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Peine’s research paper wins contest

In June, Vermillion native Jena Peine went to Montana to present a paper she wrote to judges at a Western Section American Society of Animal Science competition. She won the contest, and the same paper also took third place in an open applied research paper competition.

Peine is a lab technician and graduate student at North Dakota State University, working toward her master’s degree in animal science with a concentration in ruminant nutrition. As an undergraduate, she initially studied microbiology, she said, but added animal science to her degree program her senior year. As an animal science major, she decided to focus on ruminants, animals like cattle, sheep, goats and deer, because their digestive systems use a lot of microbes — which she studied as a microbiology major.

Peine is doing research at NDSU with animal science professor Joel Caton. The research is focused on arginine, an amino acid that is known to increase blood flow. Her research team is dealing with test feeding arginine to pregnant sheep to see if it can increase blood flow — and with it nutrition — to the fetus. If the research is successful, it has implications for pregnant women who may have issues related to fetal nutrition, Peine said.

The study Peine did for her paper, “Effects of maternal nutrition and rumen-protected arginine supplementation on ewe and postnatal lamb performance,” began around July last year and ended around Christmas. Since then she’s been summarizing results and writing, along with co-authors G.Q. Jia, M.L. Van Emon, T.L. Neville, J.D. Kirsch, C.J. Hammer, S.T. O’Rourke, L.P. Reynolds and J.S. Caton.

The competition wasn’t on Peine’s radar until her professor suggested she enter it.

“I was pretty clueless as to what it was,” Peine said.

Her professor had entered a paper in the American Society of Animal Science competition back in the 1980s, and he encouraged her to submit her paper. The competition itself calls graduate students from the western U.S. to enter. At the Western Section annual meeting June 18-20, competitors gave oral presentations to the judges.

Further research

Peine’s work is far from over. Right now, the research team only has gross measurements like weights of the lambs born after their mothers were fed the arginine supplement. So far, they’ve seen encouraging results in those weights, Peine said, but they haven’t gotten so far as to say whether or not the lambs actually do get better nutrition.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” she said.

She figured her professor will be working on the study for about the next five years. Her part will be done in two years, when she graduates. Peine said she hopes to graduate with her master’s degree in May of 2015.

After graduation, her goal is to stay at NDSU, if she can. If not, she would pursue research work somewhere else.

“I’m hoping to stay at the university in some sort of research capacity,” she said.

Peine’s paper can be read online here. It is on pages 80 to 83 of the document.