I am involved in research at Virginia Tech with my advisor Dr. Eric Wong working to better understand the response of the chicken intestine to exogenous microbes: parasites, viruses, bacteria and probiotics; with special regards to the ability to return to homeostasis. Homeostasis is the natural state of healthy tissues, in the intestine it involves a steady turn over cells to maintain digestion and absorption of nutrients. Intestinal damage is typically characterized by inflammation which results in reduced functionality and overall decreased feed efficiency. Oftentimes the state of inflammation in the intestine persists beyond the period of infection which can stifle growth in meat chickens contributing to economic losses from disease.
In addition to my research in poultry science I also conduct research into teaching Introductory animal science courses with Dr. Cindy Wood. Introductory courses in animal science are the first opportunity higher education programs have to present animal science specific content to students. My research is working to develop a report of common course content and teaching method based on a review of syllabi from the 115 Animal Science bachelor of science (or animal science concentration-agriculture B.S.) programs across the greater United States. I am also investigating how the Introductory animal science classes are viewed by students in the Animal and Poultry Science at Virginia Tech and how the course content and learning objectives are reiterated across the APSC curriculum.
At Auburn University working under Dr. William Dozier, III I researched the effects of increasing dietary amino acid density for meat chickens following vaccination against a parasitic disease. Vaccination against coccidiosis ( a intestinal parasite) is a common part of antibiotic free broiler production but use of the live vaccine, the only commercially available vaccine in the US, causes a mild infection which reduces growth in vaccinated birds and can increase risk for future bacterial disease. My research found that feeding more amino acids (building block nutrients of proteins) during the period of vaccine cycling, typically the first 21 days post-hatch, improved body weight gain and breast meat yield.
I am currently employed as a Graduate Teaching Scholar in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, in this role I am taking courses on contemporary pedagogy and university teaching as well as teaching and conducting educational research for the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences focusing on the Introduction to Animal and Poultry Sciences Laboratory course (APSC 1464).
I have also completed the Future Professoriate graduate certificate in May 2020, from the Virginia Tech Graduate School. For completion of the certificate I have completed coursework in contemporary pedagogy, higher education culture, diversity and inclusion, and a graduate teaching workshop. As part of the certificate program I am a member of the Virginia Tech Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence
Course worked with:
- Introduction to Animal and Poultry Sciences (Virginia Tech) – Co-Instructor, GTA, Guest Lecturer: Pet Food & companion animal nutritional issues
- Graduate Teaching Workshop (Virginia Tech)- Guest Lecturer: Encouraging and Enforcing Honesty in the Classroom: A conversation about the roles of GTAs (Classroom Ethics session)
- Poultry Feeding (Auburn University) – GTA
- Poultry Health (Auburn University)- GTA
- Animal Feeding and Nutrition – Undergraduate TA
I have been involved in service related commitments to the university at all stages in my university experience. I have served as an undergraduate representative on departmental curriculum committees, and as a departmental representative on the graduate student senate at Auburn University. Recently, I served as the Associate Chair for the Graduate Honor System at Virginia Tech and still currently volunteer as a panelist for the organization.
I believe that it is essential for graduate students to get involved in service while pursuing their degree as we are the future of the university and often overlooked. I have been a vocal advocate for graduate student involvement in departmental affairs and on university committees. To that end, I have been working with the Dairy, Animal and Poultry Science (DAPS) graduate student association at Virginia Tech to advocate for greater graduate student representation within the department.