UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Brittany Harlow

UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Brittany Harlow

Brittany Harlow

Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Name: Brittany Harlow
From: Dwight, Illinois
Degrees and institutes where received: B.S. Animal Science, Minor: Chemistry, May 2010, University of Ill., Urbana-Champaign
M.S. Animal Science, Area of Specialization: Equine Nutrition & Microbiology, December 2012, University of Kentucky, Lexington

Doctoral student Brittany Harlow’s graduate research has been focused on exploring options for reducing gastrointestinal conditions in the horse, specifically those associated with disturbances in hindgut bacteria, increased hindgut acidity, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, colic, and even laminitis.

“My academic and personal interests have always revolved around a love of horses and science," she said. "When offered the opportunity to study under world-renowned equine nutritionist Dr. Laurie Lawrence (PhD, professor in the animal and food sciences department at UK) in collaboration with the USDA’s Dr. Michael Flythe (PhD, forage-animal production research microbiologist within the U.S. Department of Agriculture) in the horse capital of the world, there was no way I could refuse."

Harlow‘s research projects have focused on exploring alternatives to commercially available antibiotics, such as plant-derived antibacterial products and their potential application in equine medicine. Moreover, she would like to study the steps in laminitis development caused by carbohydrate overload and potential dietary intervention strategies to reduce bacterial disturbances.

Currently, Harlow is studying the effects of starch sources, such as corn, oats, wheat, and starch level on disturbances of the equine hindgut bacterial community.

“Hopefully my graduate research will provide insight into mechanisms of carbohydrate-related hindgut bacterial disturbance and could contribute to the development of intervention/prevention strategies to lessen these disturbances,” Harlow said.

Harlow said she also hopes her research will further current knowledge and provide a better understanding of the important relationship between the horse and its hindgut bacterial population microflora, and its role in equine nutrition and health.

After completing her PhD, Harlow plans to pursue a career in academia, where she would like to continue research in the area of equine gastrointestinal microbiology and related disorders.

Shaila Sigsgaard is an editorial assistant for the Bluegrass Equine Digest.

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