I am beyond grateful for the support of the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board, and committees. The last year has been particularly difficult for all of us. This award definitely helps take some of the financial pressure off of students so we can focus on absorbing all we can from the University experience in order to become better assets to agricultural industry. I hope that in the future, I am able to support Targeting Excellence and pay it forward to the next generation of agriculture professionals!
I did not have livestock exposure before going to college, where I did several, varied research projects during 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 agriculture experience there. The company was so small, that my role didn’t stop at bench scientist; I got a heavy dose of the business side, and I absolutely loved the variety and intense pace of startup Ag. However, I missed my animal roots. I decided that I needed to start applying for grad schools. I am currently a PhD student under the advisement of Dr. Jon Holt. He was the one who brought me around to pigs. Our lab focuses on swine health, well-being, and technology. My MS projects revolved around measuring behavioral and molecular markers for systemic inflammation during heat stress. The goal of the research was to attempt to determine a non-invasive measurement or predictor of heat stress in order to apply alleviatory measures more effectively. My PhD work involves 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 right out of undergrad before coming back to graduate school. I fully intend to return to industry when I finish my education. Dr. Holt was the exact right fit to prepare me for that. I get the best of nitty gritty science/physiology with my feet on the ground of real-world practicality. Dr. Holt also invests a lot into his students’ professional and personal development, and I have grown a lot under his guidance. I hope to return to industry as a scientist in a research and development role after graduate school. My fellowship is sponsored by AgBiome, who has partnered with Elanco in the pursuit of microbial products in swine that can improve health and production. I have already learned so much from them and appreciate their continued support. Coming into grad school, I was looking to thread a very specific needle in that I wanted an agricultural bench science role in an animal health company. I am lucky to have many such companies nearby and an advisor who has helped me build connections with them. 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 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. That you for considering me for this scholarship.