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Amber Zupan

Position/Title: M.Sc. Student
Office: ANNU 015

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Bachelor of Science (Hons) - Animal Biology with a minor in Molecular Biology and Genetics (University of Guelph, 2020)

Relevant Work & Research Experience

1. Nutrition and Technical Associate, Grober Nutrition (2020- present)

  • formulate diets for all young animal milk replacers using least cost formulation
  • HACCP and quality testing ingredients and finished products
  • assisting in running research trials (including data collection, literature reviews and data analysis)

2. Undergraduate Student Researcher, University of Guelph (2019-2020)

  • conducted a 4th year research project under Dr. Katharine Wood, assisting on Kortney Acton's research project
  • research included looking and the influence of methionine and protein supplementation in late gestation beef cows on the meat quality of offspring
  • in addition, was able to assist on some of Dr. Woods previous masters students projects working with the dams of offspring in my 4th year project (2017-2019)

Current Education

I am currently a MSc-Thesis student in the Animal Biosciences department studying under Dr Katharine Wood in the field of beef nutrition. My passion for agriculture and the beef industry started back in second year when I was enrolled in AGR*2350 - Animal Production Systems Health and Industry, a course that I am now honoured to be a teaching assistant for. Following the course, I attended a Beef Science meeting which had a focus on current beef research at UofG. I found the research in Dr. Wood's lab to be very interesting so I started as a volunteer soon after working with masters students Maddy Collins, Kaitlyn Lawson and Michaela Lievre. On this project, I was able to assist with various sample collection and topdressing of individual feed bunks of cows that were to be used in a fetal programming trial. Once the cows had calved, I had the opportunity to work as Dr. Wood's summer student helping Kortney Acton with her trial looking at the impacts of maternal nutrition on offspring performance and meat quality. This led into my 4th year project where I was responsible for analysis of meat tenderness and water holding capacity of offspring meat. With all of these incredible research opportunities, I knew that I wanted to continue my education by pursuing a Masters of Science in Animal Nutrition.

My Masters project is a cluster project with partners out west at the University of Saskatchewan (SK), and the University of Lethbridge (AB) with the goal of determining the minimum fibre requirement for feedlot cattle and improving the empirical prediction of ruminal pH. Specifically, my project is looking at determining the impact of undigestible NDF (uNDF) and starch fermentability in feedlot steers on performance and gut health. Currently, nutritionists are formulating with the amount of forage, or NDF, in the diet however not all forages are created the same in terms of effectiveness or digestibility. With current nutritional models starting to incorporating uNDF into formulations, it is important to understand the effects of uNDF on ruminal motility, rumination and hence ruminal function. For this study, 96 beef steers were used and were 1 of 4 diets with high/low uNDF and high/low starch fermentability. Steers were then weighed every 28 days, had fecal samples and blood samples taken 3 times within the 18 week period, and had an indwelling pH probe inserted to measure rumen pH and temperature every 5 minutes for the last three weeks before slaughter. At slaughter, pH probes were collected, rumen and cecal fluid samples were taken and the rumen and intestines were health scored. Results for this trial will be available in mid-2022 as the trial just finished in late 2021.

Following my masters, I hope to work full time at Grober Nutrition and continue to contribute my knowledge to the beef nutrition industry. Outside of my studies, I enjoy getting involved with various committees like College Royal, Animal Biosciences Grad Student Council and OAC Grad Student Council. In addition, I enjoy attending dairy shows across Ontario, puppy raising for Autism Dog Services and hanging out with my chocolate lab, Carlton.