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.

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