I would like to extend my gratitude to all of the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board of directors, and state committees that made it possible for my fellow students and I to apply for this scholarship. People like you help to provide students the opportunity to go farther and be successful in their goals.
After leaving my small, rural hometown in northeastern Ohio to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Sciences, my initial career goals were the same as the greater majority of my peers: pre-veterinary science. Due to a series of fortunate events, rejection from vet school included, and influential people, I found myself suddenly aware of the vast number of alternative animal related careers. As such, I am glad to say I found my way into the Animal Sciences graduate program at The Ohio State University where I am now seeking a Master’s of Science Animal Sciences with a specialization in poultry gut health and recombinant vaccine technologies. Upon completion of my master’s degree during the autumn semester of 2018, I intend to continue my education at The Ohio State University by completing a PhD in Animal Sciences with a focus on poultry gut health and microbiome analysis. I aspire to use these degrees and the knowledge I have accumulated in order to pursue an academic position and career as a research scientist tasked with the development, improvement, and evaluation of prophylactic treatments addressing the current challenges of gastrointestinal disease in the poultry industry such as coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis. I am continuously gaining experiences in the laboratory that include, but are not limited to, bacterial culturing techniques, protozoal replication (isolation, enumeration, and sporulation), DNA extraction and PCR amplification, microscopy, fluorescence microplate assays, extensive dissection and tissue collection, vaccine preparations, and computational data processing and analysis.
The decreased acceptance and use of antibiotic growth promoters in the poultry industry necessitates new, more natural methods of disease control and improvement of gastrointestinal health. The studies I have completed thus far have evaluated the efficacy of specific subunit vaccines, recombinant vaccines that combine select antigens or portions of antigens into a single, non-pathogenic vector, and synthetic peptide vaccines. These particular vaccines were designed to enhance the host immune response to poultry-specific Eimeria spp., the causative agent of coccidiosis, and Clostridium perfringens, the primary etiological agent of necrotic enteritis. Improving these immune enhancing technologies will provide the means to protect flocks from disease, maintain overall health, and meet consumer demands creating sustainable industry profits.
I look forward to furthering the depth of my understanding regarding the complex interactions that occur between the host, microbiota, pathogens, and diet. These are critical factors concerning the development of disease control programs and promoting livestock growth. I am also eager to collaborate with other members and experts in my area of research and the industry. My professional goal is to carry this research into an academic position thereby coupling industry interaction with basic and applied research to develop and evaluate future poultry health products. From an academia standpoint, I wish to engage students in the study of poultry health, and expose them to the vast opportunities afforded to them by careers in the field of animal sciences, the pursuit of higher education, and conducting research. I fully expect pursuing a career in the field of poultry health and immune enhancing technologies to provide me with the challenges, enticement, and gratification I desire from my future career.
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For questions please call: Rachel Virden 678-448-2368