Position/Title: Ph.D. Candidate
Office: ANNU 032
A home filled with an assortment of pets and a library donned with James Herriot’s books compelled Munene to pursue “all things wise and wonderful”, a lifelong commitment to take care of “all creatures great and small”, and thus make “all things bright and beautiful” on earth. Upon becoming a veterinarian, Munene went into private practice, and several years later went back to school to pursue a Master’s program in animal nutrition with the sole aim of answering his clients’ questions "What do I feed my dog, chickens, cows, pigs, etc?". His quest is still unfulfilled as he pursues a doctorate in the same field of animal nutrition.
Current research and goals
The adoption of organic foods by consumers across the globe in general and in Canada in particular coupled with a surge in cases of antimicrobial resistant bacteria has brought to fore the need for producing healthy and safe food and feed. The known and yet-to-be-discovered deleterious effects of many food and feed ingredients, including antibiotics has occasioned the steady rise in the quest to find safer alternatives.
Munene’s Ph.D research under Dr. Elijah Kiarie (University of Guelph) and Dr. Moussa Diarra (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) will explore the potential of cranberry and blueberry pomaces, in combination with exogenous fibre degrading enzymes, as organic feed ingredients in broilers. Previous studies have shown that pomace extracts from grapes, apples and berries contain phytochemicals called phenolics such as flavonoids and anthocyanins, reported to have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antiparasitic and immunomodulatory properties. Pomace extracts have been demonstrated to improve gut health, and have the potential to disrupt the normal metabolism and growth of pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria, Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus, which are of present concern in global food safety.
The end goals of this research are of great import as they aim to; alleviate the losses incurred in poultry production through specific pathogen inflicted mortalities and morbidities, increase utilization and recycling of previously thought ‘waste’ products of fruit industry, reduce antibiotic residues in the environment and hence antimicrobial resistant bacteria, and ultimately it will increase the consumption of more safe food and animal products while opening new avenues for income generation.
Munene’s future endeavor is that his research and knowledge shall not be abstract but shall translate to an active and positive impact right down to the individuals and communities that it impresses upon in the society.