I am incredibly thankful to the sponsors, board, and committees that support Targeting Excellence. Balancing finances and graduate school is far from easy, and your support helps make it possible for me (and may other grads) to pursue higher education in agriculture. Thank you for your investment in those looking to make their mark in the agricultural community. I hope I am able to be on the donating side of Targeting Excellence in the future!
I am currently a Master’s student in the Animal Science department at North Carolina State University under the advisement of Dr. Jon Holt. Our lab focuses on swine health and well-being, and my current projects revolve around measuring behavioral and molecular markers for systemic inflammation during heat stress. I will be continuing with my Ph.D at NCSU with Dr. Holt. However, I plan to pivot to studying the environmental microbiome and its impact on swine health. I originally wanted to work with Dr. Holt because he came from industry, which I felt was an important lens through which I wanted to receive my education. I am a “non-traditional” student, in that I worked for a few years out of undergrad before coming back to graduate school, and I fully intend to return to industry when I finish my education. Dr. Holt was the exact right fit to groom me for that. I get the best of both worlds in terms of nitty gritty science/physiology with my feet on the ground of real-world practicality. We design all of my projects with a focus on potential on-farm impact. I did several, varied research projects during my undergraduate career at the University of Missouri in both plant and animal molecular biology, though my bachelor’s degree is in Animal Science. I held two different career track jobs after undergrad, but the one where I developed the most as a person and a professional was at a small agricultural plant biotech startup called Benson Hill Biosystems. At BHB, I got an immersive agriculture experience. The company was so small, that my role didn’t stop at bench scientist; I also got a heavy dose of the business side of things, and I absolutely loved the variety and intense pace of startup Ag. However, I started to miss my animal roots. I decided that I needed to circle back, and I started applying for grad schools. I hope to return to industry as a scientist in a research and development role. I will be doing an internship this summer with AgBiome in a swine health/microbiology position. AgBiome has partnered with Elanco in the pursuit of microbes in swine that can improve health and production, and I am excited to be a part of the development of AgBiome’s new animal health initiative. I thoroughly enjoy systematic problem solving, and, in the future, I would love an on-farm consultation role to help identify and alleviate performance problems in the swine industry. I am excited to continue to immerse myself in the University learning environment and focus on developing myself to be an asset to the animal agriculture industry. I hope to be an ambassador for agriculture in the fight to keep up with global population demands. I am hoping to absorb as much information as I possibly can in my short graduate career, and I relish every chance I get to do so.