UACES Facebook Poultry science grad students earn awards for research presentations at international meeting
skip to main content

Poultry science grad students earn awards for research presentations at international meeting

March 7, 2023

By Jessica Wesson
U of A System Division of Agriculture

  • Two poultry science grad students awarded for outstanding research presentations
  • Awards presented during International Poultry Scientific Forum in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Research focused on Salmonella vaccinations and mineral digestibility in broilers

(773 words)

Download related PHOTOS

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Poultry vaccine research using a technique similar to allergy testing in humans and a project to discern the digestibility of phosphorus from meat and bone have earned two student scientists recognition at the International Poultry Scientific Forum.

Chrysta Beck holds a certificate
CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE — Chrysta Beck holds her Certificate of Excellence award at the International Poultry Scientific Forum in Atlanta. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo)

Chrysta Beck and Jay Hampton, poultry science graduate students in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, were honored for sharing their research during the annual meeting Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Atlanta.

Beck presented her research on the immune responses of chickens to Salmonella vaccine injections and received the Certificate of Excellence in the “Physiology, Endocrinology and Reproduction: Layers, Breeders” category by the Southern Poultry Science Society. Hampton’s mineral digestibility research presentation was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Research Presentation in the “Metabolism and Nutrition Category.”

Fighting Salmonella

“Poultry products are major contributors to human salmonellosis cases, and effective management of Salmonella during pre- and post-harvest is necessary to reduce human foodborne illness,” Beck said.

With a decline in the use of antibiotics in broilers, Salmonella vaccination programs are increasingly important, she said. According to a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, the use of antibiotics in broilers decreased from 90 percent in 2013 to zero percent in 2021.

While vaccination programs are largely successful, some may contribute to liver damage in poultry.

“Insight into the physiological responses to these vaccinations are necessary to improve the development and optimization of safe Salmonella vaccines that can enhance bird performance and quality of life,” Beck said.

To assess those responses, Beck injected dead Salmonella bacteria into skin tissues that produce feathers. This allowed her to determine local immune responses over time for a single animal.

“This method is similar to allergy skin tests and patch tests that are used in human medicine,” she said.

Her current study was conducted using Light-brown Leghorn pullet chickens and her next study will look at inflammatory responses to a commercial Salmonella vaccination in the liver, spleen and cecal tonsils, as well as the gut bacteria of White Leghorns.

While earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Mississippi State University, Beck worked in a microbiology lab that studied the application of probiotics in broiler hatching eggs. She learned that bacteria-based vaccinations could shape the performance of a chick, which intrigued her.

“Because of this I wanted to be more competent in understanding the complexities of the avian immune system and how it connected to bird well-being and performance,” Beck said.

Gisela Erf, professor of poultry science, supervised Beck’s work. Erf conducts research for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture through its research arm, the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

“I reached out to Dr. Erf, and she graciously welcomed me into her lab to grow in this field of research.”

Phosphorus Digestibility

Jay Hampton holds award certificate
OUTSTANDING RESEARCH — Jay Hampton, center, holds his award for Outstanding Graduate Student Research on phosphorus digestibility. Also pictured are Kyle Teague, left, and Benjamin Parsons.

Hampton’s research gauges how well poultry can digest the important mineral phosphorus.

“Traditionally, phosphorus is supplied in broiler diets through inorganic rock phosphates; however, recent publications estimate that these sources are dwindling,” Hampton said. “To this end, there is a need to establish phosphorus digestibility values from meat and bone meals as literature on these sources are limited — especially sourced from U.S. producers.”

The factors driving digestibility are unknown, and Hampton’s goal is to find the relationships between meat and bones and their characteristics.

Accurate values are important to poultry nutritionists “so phosphorus is adequately supplied as it is important for bird performance, health and maintaining animal welfare standards,” Hampton said.

“Meat and bone meals provide adequate levels of phosphorus and can be obtained from U.S. producers.”

Hampton’s research was supervised by Sam Rochell, associate professor of poultry nutrition at Auburn University and former assistant professor of poultry nutrition for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. Michael Kidd, professor of poultry nutrition for the University of Arkansas System, also assisted with the research.

“I would like to thank Dr. Rochell for all the help and guidance during graduate school,” Hampton said. “I also cannot say thank you enough to my fellow lab mates and Dr. Mike Kidd’s lab for helping collect samples during a hectic time. My current research will hopefully provide more insight into meat and bone meal digestibility values, and I am excited to present at future conferences.”

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices.

Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.


# # #


Media Contact:
Jessica Wesson
Center of Excellence for Poultry Science