APBI 498 - Q&A With Past Students

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Courtney Boyd | Probiotics as a Novel Approach for Treating Uterine Infections and Promoting Uterine Health in Dairy Cows

B.Sc. Applied Animal Biology, Graduated 2020

Courtney Boyd Profile

What motivated you to do an Undergraduate Essay?

After taking Research Methods in Applied Biology (APBI 398) and volunteering as a research assistant at the BC Cancer Research Centre (BCCRC) in an immunology lab, I thought an undergraduate essay would be an interesting opportunity to become more familiar with similar topics related to animal health and welfare. I also saw this as an excellent way to strengthen my skills in writing and reviewing literature to prepare for my upcoming undergraduate thesis (APBI 499).

How did you go about finding a supervisor?

I found my supervisor through a combination of networking within the applied animal biology department, speaking with my program advisor, and independently researching faculty members and their areas of current and past research. Once I had identified a faculty member conducting research in areas that aligned with my own interests, I reached out to set up a meeting. I ended up connecting with Dr. Ronaldo Cerri, and luckily he was currently working on a study that shared a lot in common with the research I was involved in at BCCRC. He put me in touch with one of his graduate students and I was able to write my essay on this topic with his guidance.

Could you please share a bit about your essay and your research questions?

My essay investigated the occurrence and treatment of uterine infections in dairy cows following parturition, and the potential use of intrauterine probiotics as a novel method to prevent and reduce the severity of these infections. The weeks leading up to and following parturition are biologically demanding, and the uterine environment is commonly contaminated with pathogenic bacteria following calving. This can lead to uterine infections including endometritis and metritis in postpartum cows. These infections represent a major challenge for dairy farmers and cow welfare. Uterine infections are costly and difficult to treat, and can lead to reduced productivity and persistent poor reproductive performance. Antibiotics are the primary mode of treatment; however, these fail to address infertility issues and pose public health risks. Vaccines and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been investigated as alternatives, but no significant progress has been made. New approaches in prevention and management of uterine infections in dairy cows are urgently needed. My essay aimed to examine the incidence, pathology and consequences of uterine diseases, summarize and discuss the available methods of treatment, and the potential for intravaginal probiotics to prevent and treat these infections.

How did this essay enrich your undergraduate experience?

Writing an undergraduate essay offered me the opportunity to explore different facets of applied animal biology and gain a broader understanding of research in this field. This course is advantageous as it allows students to diversify their studies into areas they are personally interested in learning more about. Students can choose a topic they are motivated to gain a more in-depth understanding of, while simultaneously learning more about research methods, conducting literature reviews, writing scientific papers, and time-budgeting. This course definitely helped prepare me to write an undergraduate thesis, and allowed me to apply my knowledge in immunology, animal biology and welfare into an topic I was previously unfamiliar with.