Grants promote LSU Agriculture undergraduate research projects
Every day for six weeks, Ariel Bergeron goes to the LSU AgCenter poultry research facility to feed and water quail. Bergeron, a senior in the LSU College of Agriculture, is studying nutrition requirements of quail less than six weeks old.
The LSU College of Agriculture gave Bergeron and eight other undergraduates grants to pursue research in their fields of study.
Bergeron is majoring in animal, dairy and poultry sciences and is interested in poultry nutrition. She and her faculty adviser, Theresia Lavergne, a poultry specialist, chose to look at this subject because not much research has been done on nutrition requirements of quail in the past 30 years.
“Bobwhite quail are a popular gamebird in Louisiana, but they are having trouble surviving in the wild,” Bergeron said. “More people will be raising quail, so we want to know what the optimal diet is.”
Bergeron is looking specifically at requirements for the amino acid lysine.
She conducted a six-week study with 180 birds, feeding them different diets with varying levels of lysine. She recorded their weight and feed intake every seven days starting two week into the study.
Bergeron is replicating the study and will compile the results.
“This research will provide information to the gamebird industry, which has a $5 billion economic contribution to the U.S. economy,” she said.
Research projects help prepare students like Bergeron for graduate school and careers that involve research, Lavergne said.
“Ariel is gaining a better understanding of how research is conducted and how data is collected,” Lavergne said. “This gives her experience that some only get in graduate school.”
This is Bergeron’s third research project, and she has presented her results at national meetings.
Other College of Agriculture research grants went to the following students:
Ryan Ardoin, a senior majoring in nutrition and food sciences, is working with Witoon Prinyawiwatkul, a food sciences professor, to study the consumer perception and purchase intent of low-sodium mayonnaise products. This study could give consumers alternatives for reducing their daily sodium intake.
Katie Bowes, a senior majoring in natural resource ecology and management, is looking at the effects of salinity in survival, growth and biomass of the aquatic plant Ruppa maritima. Bowes is working with Megan Lapeyre, an adjunct professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, to conduct an aquatic greenhouse experiment.
Brittany Craft, a senior studying nutrition and food sciences, is examining the effects of participating in a culinary skill-building program on high school students’ willingness to consume fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods. Craft’s faculty adviser is Georgianna Tuuri, an associate professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences.
Haley Hutchins, a senior studying biological sciences, plans to characterize the diversity of the fungi Colletotrichum associated with economically important plants in Louisiana. Hutchins is working with Vinson Doyle in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology to build a comprehensive database of the plants harboring Colletotrichum in Louisiana.
Samantha Lanjewar is a senior majoring in animal, dairy and poultry sciences. She wants to determine if seven specific genes, which are used to test various performance levels of cattle, can be successfully amplified in a type of cell called a fibroblast. She is working with Kenneth Bondioli, professor in the School of Animal Sciences.
Scarlett Swindler, a senior studying nutrition and food sciences, is working with professor Marlene Janes in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences to look for rapid and reliable detection methods of the human norovirus in marine waters.
Carly Thaxton, a senior majoring in nutrition and food sciences, aims to assess dietary intake of pregnant women while also looking at fatty acid levels by analyzing the mother’s red blood cells. Carol Lammi-Keefe, a professor in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences, is Thaxton’s adviser.
Colleen Walsh, a junior studying natural resource ecology and management, is conducting research on an invasive species, Daphnia lumholtz, commonly known as water fleas. She is working with William Kelso, a professor in the School of Renewable Natural Resources, to gauge its presence in Louisiana wetlands and its ability to change its phenotype in response to changes in the environment.