I really appreciate everyone who has donated or participated in Targeting Excellence. I have been so grateful for the support. The last few years have been a particularly difficult time to be a student, and the financial support and recognition from Targeting Excellence is so valuable. Thank you!
I did not have livestock exposure before going to college, where I did several, varied research projects in undergrad at the University of Missouri in both plant and animal molecular biology. I held two career track jobs after undergrad, but I developed the most as a person and a professional at a small agricultural plant biotech startup called Benson Hill. I got an immersive experience there in both bench science and some agricultural business development. I absolutely loved the variety and intense pace of startup Ag. However, I ended up missing my animal roots and decided that I needed to start applying for grad schools to further my education. I am currently a PhD student at NC State. It was here at State where I was first introduced to working with agricultural animals, and I have never looked back! My former lab focused on swine health and well-being. My MS projects revolved around measuring behavioral and molecular markers for local and systemic inflammation during low-intensity heat stress. That research evaluated the differences between first-time and repeated exposure to heat stress to broaden our understanding to stress adaptability in pigs. I am changing gears in my PhD to study probiotic supplementation in chickens and its impact on GI and immune energy homeostasis. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with two of the most important agricultural elements in NC, the swine and poultry industries. I originally wanted to go to NC State because of its extensive network of industry partners, which I felt was an important lens through which I wanted to receive my education. I fully intend to return to industry when I finish my PhD Program. I get the best of nitty gritty basic science with my feet on the ground of real-world practicality, and I hope to return to industry as a scientist in a research and development role after graduate school. I am also fortunate to be a part of a PhD fellowship with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), whose funding originally spun out of the 2014 Farm Bill. Through this fellowship, I am sponsored by AgBiome, a company in the pursuit of microbial, biological products for the improvement of agricultural production. I have already learned so much from them and appreciate their continued support. I am lucky to have a company like AgBiome nearby and NCSU and FFAR programs that have helped me build connections with them. I am excited to continue to immerse myself in the University learning environment and focus on developing myself in order 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 aspire to absorb as much information as I possibly can in my short graduate career, and I relish every chance I get to do so. I can’t thank the donors and committee of Targeting Excellence enough for their continued support throughout my education.