I am incredibly thankful to be named a Target Excellence Scholarship recipient. I am amazed by the breadth of impact Targeting Excellence has across students pursuing degrees in animal ag. I look to use these funds to attend international scientific meetings to discuss my research throughout the world. I am incredibly proud of the research I get to perform at UC Davis, but I believe the final step is to communicate the impact of cattle production on climate with various interested stakeholders. Thank you again for your time and support for the next generation of students in animal agriculture.
My passion for animal agriculture was initiated on my home farm and cultivated over my 9 year 4-H career where I set a keen focus on raising pigs. I found an interest in providing nutrition via the different ways I could change up the diet to maximize my pigs? appearance in the show ring. I merged this interest with my favorite courses throughout high school in chemistry and biology and pursued the animal science major at Cornell University. After moving across the country to New York where there are a lot more dairy than swine operations, I found a new interest in dairy cattle management. My studies focused in working across disciplines of agribusiness, applied research, and financial planning to consult dairy farms on ways to improve farm profitability, productivity, and sustainability, based on their specific goals. Given all my success and interest in the technical aspect of the dairy industry, I knew my next step would be a master’s degree in dairy cattle nutrition. My master’s research allowed me to focus on the transition period of the dairy cattle lactation, which includes the few weeks before and after calving. During this period, cows metabolize their own protein and fat tissue to meet their nutrient requirements in early lactation. Through ultrasound measurements, blood samples, and tissue biopsies, we looked to answer the question of why certain dairy cows prefer to use nutrients from their body tissue vs. nutrients consumed from feed for early lactation milk production. This research has been widely published in both academic and layman?s publications to get the information out to help producers more accurately feed their herds for animal health and performance. Given my strong technical background and interest in thinking about the role of dairy farms in food systems, I was motivated to pursue my PhD at the intersection of intensive cattle production and environmental limits. This field continues to be incredibly pertinent to many members across the U.S. from consumers, producers, to industry members and co-ops. While much progress has been made in cattle production efficiencies, there is still much to be done. Cattle production, unlike other industries, has the possibility to reduce its environmental impact, sequester carbon via the soil, and positively contribute to human nutrition. I seek to use my degree and career to uncover solutions that can be implemented on farms to improve animal health, climate outcomes, and the way we think about carbon from cattle production. Given the importance of this field, it would be a failure to have my research restricted to the lab or academia alone. Therefore, I have sought to implement this information through written and oral communications to those decision makers that are concerned with nutrition and climate impacts. After I complete my PhD, I seek to pursue an industry role in the sustainability field that helps to meet the needs of the climate, producers, and human nutrition, so that cattle can be a tool to meet these needs across the U.S. and around the world.