I want to extend the sincerest thank you to the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board and committees. This scholarship is extremely valuable to me in helping me continue my education into the animal agricultural field. You all are inspiring individuals and I am so thankful to get to network with you all and greatly appreciate the funding towards my education and goals. I can not wait to work in the agricultural industry along all of you amazing individuals!
Animal agriculture is an extremely important commodity, I feel, driven to contribute to the poultry industry because of its extreme value to our economy and the nutritional value it holds. I would like to work for a company that shares my passion and interest for the development of innovative alternatives to antibiotics and immunological research. I foresee myself working as a project manager for an animal health company, sharing knowledge with customers and helping to develop areas of research and/or product development. I have a particular interest in the evolving, increasing antibiotic resistance. The poultry industry is slowly moving toward antibiotic-free production of meat and eggs, but that movement has had dramatic effects concerning outbreaks of certain diseases, which has on occasion limited production of poultry products. This is one of the driving reasons for my interest in researching immunology and, more specifically, antibiotic resistant pathogens.
I have been working under Dr. Aaron Kiess for the past 8 months, gaining hands-on experience and knowledge in immunology, microbiology, welfare and nutrition through his research on hatching egg contamination and laying hen welfare. The research I have focused on includes experimenting with different environmental models to reduce hatching egg contamination and early bacterial infections in chicks. The broiler breeder industry is currently experiencing challenges with both a reduction in hatch-ability and fertility. The research conducted in this laboratory endeavors to find an environmental probiotic that will be able to change the environment the egg is laid in and protect it from pathogens while the cuticle is drying. I am fully responsible for the on farm microbial sampling and bench top plating to determine pathogen load between different treatments and to conduct and gather data on any changes in the fertility and hatch-ability. Through this research I have gained experience in the following tasks T streaking, spread plating, creating growth curves, pouring plates, performing serial dilutions, wing web vaccinations, tagging, weighing, hatch breakout, egg candling, necropsy, blood draws, intestinal squeezing, and running the i-STAT on whole blood.
In my time with the sales team at Elanco in Greenfield, Indiana, I noticed the lack of permissible antibiotics in the industry, making treatment limited and difficult. This opportunity specifically highlighted the impact of the removal of gentamicin from hatcheries on hatch-ability and chick health. My internship with Elanco allowed me to learn more about the relevant problems’ companies were facing and helped me enhance my communication skills. My past experiences with Aviagen and Cobb Vantress were also extremely valuable, as they taught me how to take viable cell counts, isolate bacteria, take on-farm samples, preform necropsies, recognize abnormalities in flocks and bio security procedures, recognize good management practices for incubation in the hatchery, and artificial insemination of breeders.
I’m hoping that my masters’ degree will give me the foundation and investigative skills necessary to contribute to the immunological research community and give me inspiration as I look for ways to support animal agriculture and continue to do research in this discipline.