Skip to content

Sebastian Umaña Sedó awarded the Dr. Helen Leitch Dairy Development Scholarship

Dairy at Guelph is pleased to announce that Sebastian Umaña Sedó, a Doctor of Veterinary Science (DVSc) student at the Ontario Veterinary College, has been awarded the Dr. Helen Leitch Dairy Development Scholarship, worth $5,000.

The new scholarship is open to graduate students in any college whose research focuses on any aspect of dairy production, foods or systems and its application to international development. Applicants were asked to make a short video to describe their research and how it will have a beneficial impact on a country, territory, community or people, in a country eligible to receive official development assistance.

Growing up in San José, Costa Rica, Sebastian felt lucky to grow up alongside livestock as a part of his upbringing. His father owns a cow-calf operation, while his uncle is a veterinarian for dairy cows. This provided opportunities to tag along, which ultimately paid off. At 17, Sebastian was awarded a scholarship to study veterinary medicine at the National University of La Plata in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After finishing his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, he attended a conference where Dr. Stephen LeBlanc, Professor of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, presented. His talk left an impression on Sebastian. Three years later, he connected with Dr. LeBlanc and the professors of the Ruminant Field Service at Ontario Veterinary College and decided to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Science degree at the University of Guelph.

Today, Sebastian’s research focusses on identifying herd-level factors associated with dairy calf mortality during the first 48 hours of life and the pre-weaning period. By bringing low-cost, modifiable practices in early life to developing countries, calf mortality can be prevented, leading to better outcomes for producers.

Translating his research to real life implementation is something he’s done before, bringing his work to Central and South America by hosting workshops on calf mortality in partnership with the animal health industry.

“As my research on calf mortality unfolds, I hope to share outcomes on a global scale through publications in scientific journals, making connections in the private sector, and collaborating on methods to adapt my research findings in the dairy sector in developing countries,” Sebastian says.

“We’re excited to award the Dr. Helen Leitch Dairy Development Scholarship for the first time, recognizing the role Dairy at Guelph researchers like Sebastian play in effecting change, not just in Canada but globally,” says Dr. LeBlanc, also the Director of Dairy at Guelph. “Dairy animals support human nutrition and communities on six continents. Sebastian’s application stays true to Dr. Leitch’s vision of improving life and bettering the industry.”

About Dr. Helen Leitch

Dr. Helen Leitch was raised on a farm in Ontario and says that she benefitted richly from the University of Guelph, graduating from the Ontario Agricultural College with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1981 and a doctorate in 1993. Helen has devoted her life to international development with the World Bank, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, CGIAR, Semex and Holstein Canada, as well as with her alma mater. She believes the University of Guelph has much to offer international dairy development.

Back To Top