Where are they now?

In 2006, the Canadian Poultry Research Council (CPRC) began the annual Poultry Scholarship program. Every year, postgraduate students who will be studying an aspect of poultry science at a Canadian University are eligible to apply for the scholarship. CPRC receives several applications for the award, however only one award is granted annually. CPRC recently contacted previous recipients of the poultry scholarship to find out where they are today.

2006: The first CPRC scholarship was awarded to Mohamed Faizal Abdul Careem in 2006. Dr. Careem completed a PhD in the field of host-viral interactions relevant to Marek’s disease virus infection in chickens, at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph in 2008 under the supervision of Drs. Shayan Sharif and Bruce Hunter.

Following the PhD degree, he was awarded a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Fellowship to conduct post-doctoral research on innate immune responses generated against mucosal viral infections at the Center for Gene Therapeutics of the McMaster University, Hamilton. After completion of the two year post-doctorate, he was recruited as a tenure track Assistant Professor (virology) by Canada’s fifth Veterinary School (University of Calgary).  He established his independent research program in the area of innate immunity to poultry respiratory viral infections at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) funded by CPRC, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), Saskatchewan Agriculture, Margaret Gunn Endowment for Animal Health Research and NSERC (discovery, CRD and RTI).

Dr. Careem is a diplomate of American College of Poultry Veterinarians (ACPV obtained in 2007 while completing his PhD degree) and American College of Veterinary Microbiologists (ACVM obtained in 2012). He is also an Associate Editor of Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research (CJVR), a section Editor of Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigations and advisory Board member of Archives of Virology. Currently, he is continuing as a tenured Associate Professor (virology) at the UCVM.

2007: In 2007, Holly Pizzey received the scholarship supplement while studying at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Dr. Grégoy Bédécarrats. Her research was to study the effects of prolactin on development and function of the immune system.

After graduating, Holly attended school in Toronto to obtain a degree in pharmacy. She is currently working as the pharmacy manager at a pharmacy in Brantford.

2008: Megan MacDonald received the scholarship award in 2008 while studying at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Magor. She was studying innate immune responses to influenza virus infection. Megan published several papers in Katherine Magor’s laboratory, as Megan Barber, nee MacDonald. She worked for 9 months in Dr. Robert Webster’s laboratory during her degree, and the money from CPRC allowed her to do this. Her work was also highlighted in an issue of MacLean’s

Following graduation, Megan applied to, and was accepted to, Medical School in Calgary. She is now a medical resident in Calgary, Alberta.

2009: In 2009, Bushansingh (Shyam) Baurhoo received the scholarship while working on his PhD at McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Xin Zhao. His PhD research is titled “Reduction of Salmonella-induced enteric and systemic inflammation by mannan-oligosaccharide prebiotic through improvement of innate defense mechanisms”.

Shyam is currently an adjunct professor with McGill University (Animal Science Department) and the Director of Research and Development for Bélisle Solution Nutrition Incorporated. He has multiple on-going research projects (both at university and industry levels) with farm animals (poultry, dairy and swine) and is currently the research supervisor of 3 graduate students at McGill University. His research interest focusses on nutrition, and its effects on production, reproduction, health and welfare of farm animals.

2010: Kathleen Vail, the 2010 poultry scholarship recipient, studied under Dr. Lynn McMullen at the University of Alberta. She was investigating physiological responses of Listeria monocytogenes to environmental conditions (oxygen level, temperature, osmolarity, and pH) commonly experienced during meat processing.

After graduation, Kathleen worked as a production supervisor at McCain Foods followed by Food Safety Coordinator at Maple Leaf Foods. She is currently a QA Specialist at Champion Pet Foods in Morinville, Alberta, a position she has held for the last two years.

2011: Megan Rose-Martel was awarded the CPRC scholarship in 2011. Since then, she has published several papers on the innate mechanism of antimicrobial defense associated with the avian eggshell. She successfully completed her Ph.D. in April 2015 and continued as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Max Hincke’s lab at the University of Ottawa where she investigated the antimicrobial properties of histones extracted from avian erythrocytes.

Megan is currently a Program Officer with the Research Grants Directorate of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in Ottawa, Ontario.

2012: Aman Deep received the scholarship award in 2012 while working on his PhD at the University of Saskatchewan under the supervision of Dr. Hank Classen. His PhD research looked into strategies to reduce chronic hunger in feed-restricted broiler breeders by including slowly digested ingredients in feed rations.

After graduation, Aman accepted a position with Canadian Food Inspection agency (CFIA) in Edmonton, Alberta.

2013: Kayla Price received the 2013 scholarship award while working on her PhD at University of Guelph under the supervision of Dr. John Barta. She was studying Eimeria, the causative organism of coccidiosis in poultry, and looking at practical ways to improve its control in commercial pullets reared on wire floors.

Very shortly after graduating, Kayla accepted a position with Alltech as the Canadian Poultry Technical manager.  Her roles have her interacting with research within the company and liaising with university as well as providing technical service.  She continues to publish research papers while working at Alltech.

2014: Alexander Bekele Yitbarek, the 2014 award recipient, is working on his PhD at the University of Guelph under the supervision of Dr. Shayan Sharif. He is studying poultry immunology and developing a better understanding of the role of different toll-like receptors and cytokines in modulation of the immune system in chickens. He has published several manuscripts with several more in preparation. Alexander has completed two experiments: 1. Avian influenza infection and core gut microbiota of chickens, 2. Depletion of gut microbiota of chickens using a cocktail of antibiotics to study the role of commensal microbiota in the initiation of the immune response of chickens. He is currently analyzing the data and writing papers for both experiments.

In addition to his PhD studies, Alexander held an internship. He was awarded the Ontario TalentEdge and Alltech Inc Internship for the period January 1 to August 31, 2016.

2015: Sasha van der Klein received the award in 2015. She is studying the long term effects of broiler breeder rearing strategies on production and the effects on offspring performance under the supervision of Dr. Martin Zuidhof at the University of Alberta. Since receiving the CPRC Postgraduate Scholarship and settling in Edmonton, Alberta, Sasha’s life has been wrapped around her studies and research. First of all, she completed the compulsory course load with a 4.0 average, and from the animal trial that was conducted during the course Applied Poultry Science she wrote a paper entitled “The effect of quantitative feed restriction on allometric growth in broilers”, which was accepted for publication in Poultry Science in April. Furthermore, her team started a pilot study using the Precision Feeding System, which was developed by Dr. Zuidhof, with laying hens and they ran a trial studying energy retention in broilers, also using the Precision Feeding System. So, although her initial project proposal was aimed at transgenerational effects of nutrition in broiler breeders, her thesis will most likely get a more diverse form, as she plans to publish both trials within the next year. In April, she also started the main trial of her thesis, studying the interaction between day length and body weight on reproductive performance in broiler breeders.

Apart from her research duties at the Campus of the U of A, she also presented at the Western Poultry Conference in Red Deer and will present at PSA2016 in New Orleans as well as at the World Poultry Congress in Beijing.