Role: HQP Scholar
Primary Faculty Advisor: John Cant
Project: Estimating Energy Balance and Providing Individualized Nutrient Supplementation to Dairy Cattle Using Automated Technology
Department: Department of Animal Biosciences, OAC
What inspired you to pursue your current degree?
As an avid horseback rider and dog lover, I grew up knowing I wanted to spend my life working with and learning about animals. This led me to complete my undergraduate degree in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph. During those 4 years, I gained a keen interest in animal metabolism and research. This ultimately led me to complete my M.Sc. in precision dairy cattle management, and now continuing this project for my PhD.
What about your research area excites you?
What excites me most about my research area is that it is new and requires me to think outside the box when we approach the topic of dairy cattle management.
What challenges do you find in your research, and how do you try to overcome them?
What makes my research exciting is also what makes it challenging, because individual dairy cattle feeding programs haven’t yet been created it it is difficult to create our models or hypothesize how it might work. To overcome this challenge I remain excited about developing our models and gather all the knowledge I can to understand how they might work and what we can learn from them. With new research, I think it is important to keep an open mind and remain flexible in your thinking and ideas.
How would you describe your research and the implications of your project?
My research aims to provide individualized nutrition programs for each dairy cow, which is vastly different from the herd feeding systems currently used. Currently, dairy cows are all fed the same diet and mixture of nutrients, formulated to represent an average cow in the herd. If we are able to successfully create a model to predict individual nutrients and mixtures of feed for each cow we can potentially reduce feed costs, nutrient waste, animal health and optimize production.
What do you see as your next steps after completing your degree?
After completing my degree I hope to connect my research in academia to industry, hopefully using my models to help improve animal health and management not only in dairy cattle but potentially other industries as well. What role has the HQP scholarship played in your academic journey so far? (interested in comments about the benefits of the HQP course, skills learned and opportunities)
The HQP scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to pursue this research through funding. Additionally, the HQP course gave me a chance to work with individuals from other departments and diverse backgrounds in a professional setting. We were also able to work with an industry partner I may not ever have had the chance to meet. The course was incredibly rewarding and helped me to develop new business skills, as well as strengthen my team working and project management skills. The relationships I formed would not have been possible without this course and I am grateful for the experience. It has also has given us the opportunity to potentially publish our research in a field outside of our own, giving us a diverse research background.
What are three of your favourite activities outside the lab?
My 3 favourite things to do outside of school are camping, horseback riding and hiking with my dogs and husband.
What is one important thing you have learned during the pandemic?
This pandemic has taught me that family, friends and your support network at work are the most important to remain healthy and positive.