Meet Jessica Lowell, one of the first two students to be featured in Farm Journal PORK's new regular feature, Up & Coming Leaders. We will be featuring some of the fresh, new voices of the pork industry who combine innovative thought and work ethic with scientific savvy and a passion to make a difference.
Hometown: Marshall, Mich.
Education: Bachelor’s in animal science, Michigan State University; master’s in swine nutrition and finishing her doctorate in meat science at the University of Illinois
Q. What is your background in the swine industry?
A. I grew up in a farming family and always enjoyed working with pigs. My uncle has a 300-head, farrow-to-finish farm. I worked at the Swine Teaching and Research Center at Michigan State, and gained experience in swine management and production.
Q. Tell us about your internship experiences.
A. I interned with Hord Livestock Company in Bucyrus, Ohio, on a 3,000-head sow barn, farrow-to-wean operation. Experiencing swine production on such a large scale was enlightening. I handled a variety of responsibilities from breeding and farrowing to general barn maintenance.
Q. Did you take part in undergraduate research?
A. My initial plan was vet school, so I didn’t participate in undergraduate research. Looking back, that would have been a big plus. It helps you appreciate everything that goes into getting an advanced degree and sets you up for success.
Q. Tell us about your current research.
A. Everything from diet to transportation can affect meat quality. Pork is the most consumed animal protein in the world and is exported to countries such as Mexico, Japan and China. Mexican consumers prefer a high lean product, while Japanese consumers prefer a darker, more highly marbled product. Contrasting demands means pork quality and carcass characteristics are now essential breeding objectives. One challenge in meeting consumer quality demands is the difference between when packers and consumers assess quality. For my Ph.D. dissertation, I established correlations or relationships between early quality (what the packers see) and aged quality (what the consumers see). I also determined whether those relationships are different between sex and/or sire line. This helps producers and packers understand quality traits they can use when selecting product and decide if they should account for sex or sire line when using early quality traits to estimate aged quality observed by the consumer.
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