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Michaela Lievre

Position/Title: M.Sc. (Thesis) Student
Office: ANNU 016B

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During my undergrad in the Honours Agriculture major, I had various opportunities to engage in research through my summer employment. However, it was my 2016 term that fuelled my drive to further pursue research. During this term, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Dave Hume in the Department of Plant Agriculture, overseeing a project examining the role of molybdenum in soybeans grown in acidic soils. Working with Dr. Hume was an invaluable learning experience. While I recognized my love of research through my work in Plant Agriculture, I have always had an affinity for working with animals. I made the decision to couple my two passions which inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in Animal Biosciences, specifically studying beef nutrition with Dr. Katie Wood.

My M.Sc. project involves investigating the effect of feeding different levels of protein and supplemental methionine to late-gestation beef cattle, on the degree of passive immune transfer to calves. Colostrum, the first milk consumed by calves after birth, contains large quantities of nutrients and antibodies such as immunoglobulins. Cattle cannot transfer maternal antibodies through the placenta, so calves rely solely on the transfer of immunoglobulins through colostrum consumption. In the third trimester, cows have high nutrient requirements and if nutrients are limited colostrum production may be negatively impacted. Currently, I am feeding beef cattle one of three diets, offering protein above, at, or below requirements for late gestation. Additionally, I am providing half of the cattle on each diet with supplemental methionine. The cows received a rabies vaccine which will aid me in assessing the degree of immune transfer to the calf. My analysis of colostrum samples and serum samples from both cow and calf will provide insight into the benefits of dietary protein and methionine on colostrum quality and passive immune transfer.

Outside of my academic career, I work for the Student Transition Office as a Bounce Back Facilitator, and as a Liaison Assistant for the OAC. In the future, I hope to continue engaging in my community and to pursue a research career in ruminant nutrition.