Hometown: Raleigh, NC
School: North Carolina State
Major / Species: PhD- Animal and Poultry Science
Career Goals: My goal of becoming a swine extension specialist has been steadily growing and will soon be a reality. It all started while I attended Kansas State University for my bachelor’s degree and worked at Sunset Zoo performing animal educational programs and teaching classes to children. I enjoyed the excitement of teaching children and adults about the animals at the zoo and fostering a love of nature that I hope still in place today. I was also fortunate enough to work for Dr. Lily Edwards on behavior research with cattle and chimpanzees. This was my first foray in to the research world and I have continued to build on my observation and data collection skills every day.
After graduating from Kansas State, I spent one year working as a Research Technician at Innovative Swine Solutions, LLC in Carthage, Illinois. This was my first time working extensively with swine and the amount I learned in one year on the job is astonishing. I learned how to follow protocols, take blood samples, assist sows with farrowing and how to fix the constantly broken feed system, along with many other skills. While I enjoyed working at Innovative Swine Solutions and doing research on a daily basis, I also wanted to focus the research on some of my interests, mainly genetics and reproduction in sows, which led me to North Carolina State University.
I began my studies at NCSU in fall of 2012 working for Dr. Mark Knauer and Dr. Joe Cassady. My research involved the associations among body condition, reproductive performance and body lesions in group housed sows. I presented findings from my research at the Midwest Animal Science Meetings in 2013 and 2014 and an article on the project was published in National Hog Farmer. From June of 2014 to January of 2015 I was an intern with The Livestock Conservancy where I analyzed pedigree data and distributed breeding recommendations to heritage swine breed associations. My thesis was successfully defended in July of 2014 and I immediately began my PhD working with Dr. Mark Knauer and Dr. Christian Maltecca. My current research focuses on developing physiological tests for seasonal infertility and mitigation of seasonality of sow reproductive performance via genomic selection. Through my doctorate career I have crafted a working relationship with the industry by collaborating with Smithfield Premium Genetics, Prestage Farms and in the summer of 2016 I will intern with PIC.
All of these steps have been necessary to make my goal of becoming a swine extension specialist a reality. I hope to utilize the skills that I have learned to continue to educate and interact with farmers and producers, as well as, continue to perform research that is directly applicable to the industry. I want to be responsible for informing producers of new technology and innovative research that may be beneficial to them in order to help them meet their production goals. I look forward to a career where I get to continue my passions of teaching and research.