UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Ashton Miller

Ashton Miller is studying the immune system of the geriatric horse, particularly those with PPID, or equine Cushing's disease.

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

Name: Ashton Miller
From: Charlottesville, Virginia
Degree and institute where received: BS in health services administration and a minor in business, James Madison University

Ashton Miller chose to come to the University of Kentucky (UK) to pursue her doctoral degree in veterinary science because the program blends of her two passions--horses and science.

“UK’s Veterinary Science department is unique in that its research is focused on the horse,” she said. “There are very few places in the world where so many people are gathered in one location to investigate equine health … and equine health only.”

Miller is currently working in the laboratory of Amanda Adams, PhD, assistant research professor at the Gluck Equine Research Center. Miller’s research is focused on the immune system of geriatric horses, particularly those with pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID)—a common endocrine disease in older horses, which is commonly referred to as Cushing’s disease.

“In horses with PPID, I am especially interested in how their endocrine dysfunction affects their local and systemic immune responses,” Miller said.

In addition, Miller is working in collaboration with the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory on a retrospective epidemiological study focused on diseases associated with geriatric horses.

When asked what her most valuable takeaway from the program is so far, Miller said, “The veterinary science department at UK is full of researchers with different specialties, but all of them are focused on progressing our knowledge of health and medicine in the horse.

“Frequently, diseases and conditions overlap and you need someone else’s expertise to advance” in research or with a case, she continued. “The veterinary science department at UK has shown me how valuable this is, and will continue to be, and how to put it into practice. In today’s ever-expanding scientific world, it is critical to have top-notch collaborators who are excited about their work. The ability to successfully and efficiently collaborate will be an extremely valuable skill in my future endeavors.”

Miller plans to graduate in 2018 and, at this point, is keeping options open for her future career plans.

Alexandra Harper, MBA, is the operations and communications coordinator for the UK Ag Equine Programs.

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