Victoria Holland is a junior studying poultry production in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University. In addition to her roles as a Poultry Science Club officer and a former* member of the professional agricultural sorority Sigma Alpha, Holland was named an undergraduate research fellow through Auburn’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship program in September 2015.
Her research project, “Effect of incubational egg turning intervals on gut development in the chick, gut morphology and developmental biomarkers,” explores chick quality by examining gut development prior to hatching.
“The chicken intestinal tract is not fully developed at hatching, Holland wrote in her project’s abstract. “The degree of gut maturity in chicks is likely associated with early chick livability.” Because chick mortality rates have an impact on the overall success of a grower’s flock, Holland focused her research on understanding and improving gut quality in the embryo.
On April 13, 2016, Holland presented her research at Auburn University’s This is Research Student Symposium. Her poster presentation explained her research to viewers, as she stood nearby to talk them through her abstract, methodology and conclusion and to further discuss the topic.
“While I was standing with my poster, I got to talk to a family that was really interested in my research because their children were incubating eggs and wanted to know if the chicks would hatch,” she said. “It was different, because they weren’t faculty or students, but it was a cool experience to tell them about my research and talk about their eggs.”
Holland’s interest in research as an undergraduate developed from her experiences working in the lab setting with faculty and graduate students within the department.
“The opportunity to get to know your professors in a lab setting and work with their research assistants and graduate students in the lab led me to apply for a fellowship because I really liked the lab work and learned so much about the process of working on an experiment,” she said.
Holland’s research mentor is Wallace Berry, professor of poultry science. Together she and Dr. Berry outlined research interests, designed a research plan and submitted an application to the Undergraduate Fellowship Program.
“Undergrads interested in graduate school really need to take opportunities to work inside a lab and get involved with research projects.” Holland said.
She believes that the undergraduate research fellowship has been the best opportunity to set herself apart as a graduate school applicant.
“Any research experience you can get as an undergraduate will help you stand out,” she said.
Holland will also present her research at the 2016 Poultry Science Association’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, in July.
*Correction, May 3, 2016.