CPRC Scholarship Program - Past Recipients

Where are they now? CPRC contacted previous recipients of the poultry scholarship to find out where they are today.


2021 The postgraduate scholarship was awarded to Siobhan Ennis. Siobhan is a Msc. student under the supervision of Dr. Masahiro Niikura, at Simon Fraser University (Faculty of Health Sciences). Over the past few decades, MDV has continued to spread and become incrementally more virulent despite extensive vaccination programs. Siobhan’s research aims to create a recombinant reporter Marek’s Disease Virus (MDV) that can distinguish all latently infected cells. Using this reporter virus, she aims to identify the unique features of latently infected cells, shedding light on the bigger picture of pathogenesis and vaccine protection against Marek’s Disease. Siobhan hopes to eventually understand exactly how these vaccines work and how the virus keeps getting around them in order to guide future vaccine programs in the poultry industry.

Siobhan’s research career started with an interest in Infectious Diseases during her BSc at SFU. After first working on human pathogens, she met Dr. Niikura and discovered the world of avian virology. Since then, she has presented her findings at the 13th Annual International Symposium on Marek’s Disease and Avian Herpesviruses and published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she also lent her virological skills to the fight against SARS-CoV-2. After completing her MSc, Siobhan intends to pursue a PhD and a career in academic research.

 2019 The postgraduate scholarship was awarded to Ryan Snyder. Ryan is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. John Barta at the University of Guelph. Ryan got an early exposure to poultry from growing up on a broiler chicken and turkey farm in Haldimand County, Ontario. After completing his BSc at the University of Guelph, Ryan began to work for the Trouw Nutrition research farm as a Research Assistant where he expanded his knowledge and connection to the poultry industry. It was during this experience he met Dr. Barta, which eventually led Ryan back to academia to pursue graduate studies.

Ryan is researching commercial applications for the control of coccidiosis in broiler chicken production. He conducted a field survey from 4 dozen broiler farms across southwestern Ontario investigating the Eimeria shedding patterns from flocks using either the coccidiosis vaccine or in-feed anticoccidials in order to establish baseline information for producers to evaluate their coccidiosis control program. Ryan has studied how to reduce the anticoccidial resistance developed in a commercial facility by using the live-coccidiosis vaccine. He also is working to develop a DNA-test to identify and quantify the Eimeria species that can co-infect chickens. Ryan is the Coordinator for the Poultry Health Research Network where he organizes events and communicates the poultry research that is conducted at the University of Guelph.

Following graduation, Ryan aims to join the poultry industry to conduct research and technical services, and to continue working on the family farm.

 2017 The 2017 postgraduate scholarship was awarded to Camila Marcola. Camila is a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Ben Willing, at the University of Alberta (Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science). Camila’s research aims to understand the interactions between chickens and their gut microbiome and at identifying commensal microbes that could improve poultry performance and disease resistance. In her project, she will characterize the variation in microbiome composition between different poultry production systems across Alberta, and create a culture collection of bacteria and yeast that can be used in the development of microbiome-based strategies to improve health and resilience of poultry flocks.

Camila earned a Veterinary Degree from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in 2014, and an MSc in Animal Science from the Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil, in 2017. After completing her MSc degree, Camila was keen to return to Canada and the University of Alberta, where she had previously spent two terms as an exchange student funded by a Science Without Borders scholarship from the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq). Camila is passionate about animal agriculture and has published six papers in peer-reviewed journals (3 co-author, 2 first author, 1 co-first author) and presented research findings at several scientific and industry conferences.

2016 This year’s recipient of the postgraduate scholarship award was Charlene Hanlon. Charlene is currently a M.Sc. student under the supervision of Dr. Grégoy Bédécarrats at the University of Guelph (Department of Animal Biosciences) who will be transferring directly into a Ph.D. program in September 2016. Since her undergraduate studies, Charlene has immersed herself in poultry science with a specific interest for the industry. In addition to her own project, she has been actively involved in a multitude of on-going trials in Dr. Bédécarrats laboratory, including many spectrum lighting trials in order to validate a new LED bulb for commercial use by the industry. In addition, she has also been working as a part time staff at the University of Guelph / OMAFRA poultry research station and is thus familiar with all aspects of poultry research. Recently, while writing her literature review, she co-authored a book chapter with Dr. Bédécarrats on practical lighting for egg-layers (accepted for publication). Aside from research, Charlene is also actively involved in several activities and committees within the department of Animal BioSciences.

Her project will focus on determining the molecular and endocrinological basis underlying the continuous increase in laying persistency observed in the commercial strains. More specifically, by comparing unselected and selected lines for egg production, Charlene will investigate and compare the involvement of the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal (HPG) axis on egg production, along with associated hormones. During her undergraduate research project, Charlene was able to identify a second peak in estradiol occurring late in the laying cycle, at a time when production should normally decline. Identifying the reasons behind this second surge in estradiol will be a major focus. As we suspect this event comes from the ovary, she will also conduct research on understanding the organization and dynamics of the ovarian follicle hierarchy in order to understand the significant increase in cumulative egg numbers observed over the last few decades.

2015 The 2015 CPRC Scholarship was awarded to Sasha van der Klein, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Martin Zuidhof, University of Alberta. Sasha completed her MSc at the University of Wageningen in 2015 in the areas of immunology, genetics and nutrition. She was awarded the Dutch scholarship for Animal Nutrition Education in 2013 and in the same year she was one of three students nominated with the Tjeerd de Jong Award, an award for excellent Animal Science students aiming at a career in research. In 2014, she earned an Erasmus+ scholarship to be able to perform her master thesis research at the Poultry Research Centre of Nutreco in Spain. She published one and co-authored another paper following from her thesis in genetics, about the relationship between production traits and immunology in laying hens. After graduation she worked for several months as a poultry research assistant in the research team of the R&D center of Cargill in Velddriel, before she decided to precede her career in research with a PhD at the University of Alberta, with Dr. Martin Zuidhof.

Sasha’s research will look at broiler breeder management strategies. Her focus will be on understanding long term effects of broiler breeder rearing strategies on production and the effects on offspring performance. The focus will be on lighting and body weight management. She will also conduct research on understanding the mechanisms of transgenerational effects of nutrition. In her studies she will use the Precision Broiler Breeder Feeding System, developed by Dr. Zuidhof, which can control individual bird feed intake using real-time body weight measurements to make feed allocation decisions.

2014 The 2014 CPRC Scholarship was awarded to Alexander Bekele Yitbarek, a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Dr. Shayan Sharif, University of Guelph. Alexander completed his M.Sc. at the University of Manitoba in 2009 and then worked with Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Lecompte as a research technician until 2013. He followed that as a research associate with Nutreco Canada until commencing his studies with Dr. Sharif.

Alexander’s research will look at 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. His research focus will be mainly in understanding the role of TLR receptor ligands in controlling avian influenza virus. He will also conduct research on the effect of probiotics as nutritional modulators in the search for the replacement of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry diets.

2013 The 2013 CPRC Scholarship was awarded to Kayla Price. Kayla is Ph.D. student studying under Dr. John Barta at the University of Guelph. She is 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. Kayla’s research has demonstrated the effectiveness of a self-immunization strategy that improves the performance of live cocci vaccines and may reduce the need for coccidiostats, about which there is growing concern over resistance and residues. Kayla has expanded her original research program to better understand the dynamics of coccidial populations in the bird and in the barn, and to optimize live vaccine doses.

Kayla has had a very successful academic career thus far having already published several papers in peer-reviewed journal articles and presented her results at a number of scientific and industry meetings in Canada and abroad. She has received several awards in recognition of her outstanding academic performance. Beyond academics, Kayla is highly involved in several activities, both in and outside the university community, aimed at transferring knowledge to potential users of research outcomes, encouraging others to become involved in poultry science, and promoting the poultry industry in general.

Kayla has already made significant contributions to her research program and displays great potential to mature into a scientist of excellent caliber – the kind of scientist we need to help ensure the future success of our industry.

2012 The 2012 CPRC Scholarship was awarded to Aman Deep. Aman is originally from India where he had an outstanding undergraduate record, graduating second in his class. He started a M.Sc. program in 2008 at the University of Saskatchewan under the tutelage of Dr. Hank Classen. Aman’s M.Sc. studies focused on the impact of light intensity on broiler productivity and welfare. Results of this research were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and have been shared throughout the industry.

In 2011, Aman began a PhD program, also with Dr. Classen, looking at strategies to reduce chronic hunger in feed-restricted broiler breeders. Specifically, by including slowly digested ingredients in feed rations. Such ingredients have been shown to improve satiety in other species. Aman is examining physiological and behavioural responses to diets containing field peas. His research has already revealed important effects of feeding broiler breeders these modified diets.

Aman earned a veterinary degree while in India and, during his time as a graduate student, completed the requirements to practice veterinary medicine here in Canada. Throughout his academic career, Aman has demonstrated a strong work ethic, dedication to teaching, and aptitude for research. His combined veterinary and science training, skills and experience make Dr. Deep a valuable asset to the Canadian poultry industry.

2011 After reviewing many excellent applications, the CPRC Board voted to award the 2011 scholarship to Megan Rose at the University of Ottawa. Megan has attained a strong academic standing and has received several awards. She co-authored a journal article in 2009 with her M.Sc. supervisor on the protein constituents of the eggshell and has made a number of presentations, both refereed and non-refereed, at European and Canadian poultry conferences. She is involved with the university community as a laboratory teaching assistant and is active in various volunteer activities. Megan wants to become a leading poultry research scientist.

Megan started a M.Sc. program in 2008 under the supervision of Dr. Max Hincke in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. She looked at eggshell proteins associated with antimicrobial activity. Her work suggests that components of the cuticle layer of the eggshell have significant antimicrobial properties, which may have important implications for the industry as much of the cuticle is removed during egg washing. Before completing her M.Sc. program, Megan transferred directly to a Ph.D. Her current research is looking at the possibility of exploiting the antimicrobial activity of proteins known as histones. These are the proteins around which DNA coils during the formation of chromosomes. Preliminary work has shown that histones have potent antimicrobial activity. The objective of Megan’s research will be to optimize histone purification from blood and test them for bactericidal activity. If the histones test positive and enough can be recovered, they will be assessed as antimicrobial feed supplements. If successful, this research may lead to value-added products from chicken blood and provide a potential alternative to currently used antibiotics.

Megan has already made significant contributions to her research program and displays great potential to mature into a scientist of excellent caliber – the kind of scientist we want in poultry science to help ensure the future success of our industry.

2010 The 2010 scholarship supplement was awarded to Kathleen Vail, University of Alberta. Kathleen started her MSc program in September 2009 under supervision of Dr. Lynn McMullen at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta. Her project is investigating physiological responses of Listeria monocytogenes to environmental conditions (oxygen level, temperature, osmolarity, pH) commonly experienced during meat processing. Research reported in the literature indicates that many bacteria, including Listeria, change from normal cell morphology to a filamentous form under sub-optimal growing conditions. Kathleen’s hypothesis is that L. monocytogenes will survive common meat processing conditions and can persist in filamentous form on foodstuffs under cold storage conditions. Some currently used microbiological testing methods (such as plate counting) are less able to detect the filamentous form of the bacterium. If Kathleen’s hypothesis is correct, it may be that the levels of viable L. monocytogenes present on prepared foods are being underestimated. These results would be of significant consequence to the food industry, especially “ready-to-eat” meat products that are not cooked by the end consumer. For example, processors might be prompted to adjust their microbiological testing methods and/or avoid conditions that promote filamentous Listeria.

2009 The 2009 scholarship supplement was awarded to Bushansingh (Shyam) Baurhoo at McGill University. Shyam is investigating the effect of mannanoligosaccharides (MOS) and lignin on broiler chicken performance, especially in the absence of dietary antimicrobials. MOS are complex sugars derived from yeast that have been shown to have prebiotic effects – that is, they may support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the chicken’s gut. Lignin is a co-product of the paper industry that may also be of benefit. This work directly relates to CPRC’s priority of finding alternatives to commonly used antimicrobials. Shyam’s PhD research project is very ambitious. He will be looking at effects on nutrient metabolism, gene regulation, immune function and microbial population dynamics. Work thus far suggests that MOS and low levels of lignin are both more effective than virginiamycin at decreasing gut colonization by the bacterium E. coli and at increasing numbers of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. The supplements may also help protect poultry from Salmonella challenge. These results could be of significant importance to the industry.

2008 Megan MacDonald was awarded the 2008 supplement and holds an NSERC Post Graduate Scholarship. Megan is studying, under the supervision of Dr. Katherine Edens Magor, innate immune responses to influenza virus infection. Specifically, she is interested in why ducks can survive as asymptomatic carriers of several strains of Avian Influenza which cause severe disease in chickens. Previous research suggests there are differences between ducks and chickens in certain receptors that recognize viral genetic material. These receptors (known as immune detectors), when stimulated, participate in a cascade of immune system responses. Megan’s work led to the discovery of a new influenza detector, RIG-1, that is present in ducks but not in chickens. She hypothesizes that this difference relates to why ducks are resistant and chickens susceptible to a number of viruses.

Megan has already published two papers, and has made four poster/oral presentations. Megan was one of only three students worldwide selected to present a paper at an immunology conference in France in 2006.

2007 This year’s recipient of the CPRC postgraduate scholarship supplement was Holly Pizzey. Holly is working in Dr. Grégoy Bédécarrats’ lab at the University of Guelph. She is studying prolactin, a pituitary hormone whose expression is associated not only with incubation behaviour, but on a multitude of other functions, including stimulation of the immune system. The main objective of Holly’s research project is to study, at the molecular level, the effects of prolactin on development and function of the immune system. A great deal of background work has been performed in Dr. Bédécarrats’ lab and the project is well poised to increase the relatively small knowledge base on prolactin’s role in immune function. This increased knowledge may have important implications to breeding schemes, which have traditionally selected against incubation behaviour and could have affected prolactin expression.

The first recipient of CPRCs postgraduate scholarship supplement, Mohamed Faizal Abdul Careem, recently reported on his previous year’s work. Faizal has obtained status of Diplomat of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians (ACPV) and has been accepted by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) as a licensed poultry veterinarian. He has published 5 papers, submitted 2 more manuscripts, made an oral presentation and contributed to 2 poster presentations. His academic performance remains very high – Faizal was awarded the Soren Rosendal Memorial Research Prize and the Korean-Canadian Dr. F. Schofield Memorial Scholarship from the Ontario Veterinary College, as well as the Reed Rumsey Award from the American Association of Avian Pathologists. In recognition of his outstanding performance, the 2nd installment of his supplement has been sent to Faizal.

2006 Three applications were received under the program this year. After careful review, the CPRC is pleased to announce Mohamed Faizal Abdul Careem as the recipient of this year’s supplement. Faizal is a PhD student working under supervision of Drs. Shayan Sharif and Bruce Hunter at the University of Guelph. The objectives of his research project are to determine the mechanism of immune response following embryo vaccination against Marek’s Disease (MD) and to see whether embryo vaccination against MD has any adverse effects on subsequent development of immune responsiveness. Faizal is a recipient of a prestigious Canada Graduate Scholarship