My name is Sara Cloft and I use she/her pronouns. At Virginia Tech I am a PhD student in the department of Animal and Poultry Sciences. I am also a Graduate Teaching Scholar in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences where I work with the introductory laboratory class in the APSC department. Additionally, I serve as the Associate Chair for the Graduate Honor System. After graduation (and probably a post-doc or two if I’m being realistic), I hope to work as a professor at a land grant university(and get tenure) and be able to continue following my intellectual curiosities and inspire the next generation of animal (& hopefully poultry) scientists.
I am very passionate about my research especially on days that I get to spend time cuddling cute chicks and poults. My research focuses on poultry intestinal development and maturation using in-ovo feeding techniques (see the image below). This research topic is prefect for me because I think poultry (chickens & turkeys primarily) are awesome and I absolutely love intestines! Yes, I fully understand that is a strange thing to love, but consider the following: they are absolutely essential to life through their role in digestion and metabolism but also intestines are the largest mucosal immune surface within the body responsible for maintaining a healthy microbiome and protecting us from harmful bacteria. Additionally, the alimentary canal (all parts of the body that food passes through) is responsible for the enjoyment that comes from food and is the site of many of the worst chronic illnesses. In chickens there are even more fascinating elements that will probably keep me interested for the rest of my life, but I digress.
Image taken from Johnson, R. (2018) In ovo feeding: ingesting the facts. The Poultry Site. https://thepoultrysite.com/articles/in-ovo-feeding-ingesting-the-facts https://thepoultrysite.com/articles/in-ovo-feeding-ingesting-the-facts
Getting back to the prompt… I am taking Diversity and Inclusion in a Global Society this semester because I hope to become a professor. I have found that the most memorable professors I’ve had were those able to create an environment where students could feel comfortable learning material and grow as people. I feel that they were able to facilitate such an environment by being able to embrace and emphasize the diversity in a classroom. I am striving to reach this level of excellence and for me the first step to feeling comfortable with a topic is to study it. I am hoping this course provides me with ideas about how to cultivate discussion about diversity especially on sensitive topics. Previously, I worked as a resident assistant at Michigan State University (Go Green!!!) and I participated in many “diversity” events and created programs to teach pronouns or advertise resources available on campus but I doubt if I would be able to lead a classroom through a meaningful diversity and inclusion lesson. I am also hoping to have my preconceptions challenged at some point this semester. I have grown a lot since I started my college experience but I know that I still have room to grow.