UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Mieke Brummer

UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Mieke Brummer

Mieke Brummer, PhD

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

Name: Mieke Brummer
From: Pretoria, South Africa
Degrees and institutes: BSc Animal Science, University of Pretoria
MSc Animal Science: Nutrition, University of Pretoria
PhD Animal Science Equine Nutrition, University of Kentucky (UK)

Mieke Brummer, PhD, has always been involved with horses and horseback riding recreationally. While working on her research project at Alltech, Brummer mentioned her interest in equine nutrition to her supervisor at the time.

“When Alltech called me upon completion of my master’s and offered me the opportunity to complete my PhD in equine nutrition under the guidance of the world-renowned equine nutritionist Dr. Laurie Lawrence, in the department of animal and food sciences at UK, there was no way that I could refuse.”

Brummer’s research focused on the mineral selenium in its organic and inorganic form and how selenium status (low, adequate, or high) affects the antioxidant status of an idle horse as well as a horse subjected to a mild exercise test.

“We also evaluated the impact of selenium status on immune function," she said. "To do so, we worked with Dr. David Horohov and Dr. Amanda Adams, both from UK’s Gluck Equine Research Center. Central Kentucky tends to have low soil selenium content, which results in low selenium pastures. Therefore, Kentucky was the ideal location for the execution of this two-year study, which required a selenium depletion period followed by selenium repletion."

Low selenium pastures are not unique to Central Kentucky, however, Brummer said. Many other areas in the United States, as well as parts of New Zealand, China, Europe, and Africa tend to have low soil selenium. Therefore, determining the appropriate level of selenium required by horses for optimum antioxidant status and immune function can benefit the horse industry as a whole.

“I hope my research outcomes will be important and helpful when selenium requirements of the horse are re-evaluated by the National Research Council,” she said.

Throughout her PhD, Brummer was also involved in other graduate student research projects including digestibility, exercise, voluntary intake, and forage preference test studies.

Brummer is currently in a post- doctoral position at Alltech, where she is acquiring new laboratory skills that she might apply toward equine nutrition practices in South Africa. “Ideally, I would love to further current knowledge on equine nutrition in South Africa, where the forage species and climate are vastly different from other regions of the world where the majority of horse research is conducted," Brummer said. "I hope that I will be able to achieve this through collaboration with universities or veterinary research facilities located in South Africa."

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

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