Thank you to all involved in the Targeting Excellence scholarship process. I would like to thank all of the sponsors for allowing not only me, but several students to receive this outstanding award. I would also like to thank the Board of Directors and the Iowa Committee for selecting me as a scholarship recipient. I am honored to receive the scholarship as it will provide financial assistance as well as exposure to future employers. Thank you.
Hometown: Ames, IA
School: Iowa State University
Major / Species: Animal Science
Career Goals: Having grown up on a row crop and cattle farm in northeast Iowa, I knew I wanted to be involved in the agriculture industry at a young age. In high school, I started working on a small wean to finish pig farm and developed a desire to work with pigs. As an undergraduate, I wanted to keep working with pigs, so I worked on a purebred Berkshire farm for about a year. I had never had much experience with farrowing, and this allowed me to understand and develop skills in farrowing and piglet processing. After a year, I had the opportunity to start working in with animals in a research setting. Helping graduate students with research as an undergraduate allowed me to see the time and effort put into research trials, along with the reward of a finished trial, and the impact it can have on the livestock industry. I knew pig research was what I wanted to do after completing a trial studying the impact of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRSV) on pig performance as an undergraduate. We calculated the economic impact of PRRSV, and ever since, the overarching goal of my research has been to reduce the financial implications of different pig disease through dietary strategies. Because I grew up raising livestock, I know how important feed, medication, and labor costs can be a producer’s bottom line. Upon graduation with my Ph.D., I see myself continuing to be involved in the swine industry and with pig producers. I want to continue to research swine nutrition x disease interactions and to understand how they affect pig performance. If we can understand how the disease is affecting pigs, we can ideally dietary intervention strategy to reduce the cost associated with disease. I also want to research alternative products to antibiotic growth promotants. With the implementation of the VFD and increased public demand for reduced antibiotic use in livestock, this will be a rapidly growing area of research in the coming years. If we can understand the mechanism of how antibiotic growth promotants work, we can attempt to mimic this with different alternative products. I also want to keep in contact with swine producers. Producers provide a real-time evaluation of what is happening in the field. Whether it is the emergence of a new disease or the efficacy of a new product, producers see these effects first. Keeping producers involved and listening to their needs will is critical, especially with new the new feed restriction regulations.