Student Research Helps Vermont Dairy Farm

January 13 2017
Category: Academics

Today’s #SoaringToSuccess focuses on undergraduate research from two students, Melody Ribeiro and Cory Blanchard. Here Melody, a biochemistry and biology double major, shares her experiences from a summer research project that helped save the lives of baby goats, or kids, at a Vermont dairy farm.

Let’s learn more from Melody…

My name is Melody Ribeiro and I am a biochemistry and biology double major. I wanted to conduct research in the sciences to gain more experience and I was given the chance to work with Dr. Bezotte and Cory Blanchard on a project this previous summer. I had an incredible experience collecting samples on a Vermont dairy goat farm and learning about the unique microbiome field.

In October, we traveled to the University of Maryland Baltimore County to present our research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the chemical and biological sciences. This was an incredible opportunity presenting our research to scientists from across the country.

We originally set off to Vermont with a plan to determine if the microflora of a goat was transferred from the mother to the baby goat, or kid, after birth. We quickly decided that we should direct our research to determine the reason that a large number of infant goats were becoming severely sick and the mortality rates were rising. We adapted our method to fit our own purpose and collected samples from the ill goats.

The kids mainly had sore-mouth, a contagious disease that typically disappears after one to four weeks. The larger problem was the goats succumbed to secondary infections including from the bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus. We returned to the lab at Elmira College and analyzed our samples. We were able to make suggestions involving cleaning and care practices using our research to support the information. Currently there has been improvement on the farm and the goats appear much healthier.

My favorite part about this internship was being able to see the connection between scientific research and the impact it can have on a business. Presenting our research gave me the opportunity to show the world everything our team achieved over the summer. It was exhilarating and I believe that this research will help me become a successful large animal veterinarian. 

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