Equine Research Team Participates in Symposium

Posted: June 10, 2014

Penn State Equine Research Team students traveled to Kentucky for the fourth annual symposium, sharing information on research projects with students from the University of Kentucky and the Ohio State University.
Penn State students pause for a photo at Keeneland Racetrack in Kentucky.

Penn State students pause for a photo at Keeneland Racetrack in Kentucky.

Eighteen members of Penn State's Equine Research Team (PSERT) participated in the fourth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the University of Kentucky in May.

Three student members of the team gave oral presentations on research projects they are conducting, including a study of the growth patterns of twins born at Penn State in 2013, and results of a metabolomic study of horses fed high and low forage diets.  Presenters were Amy Kraus, Ashley Sutton and Shelia Zimmer.  They joined presenters from the University of Kentucky Equine Research team and from the Ohio State University, sharing information and data on research projects the students had completed or were conducting.

Participants also toured the Gluck Equine Research Center and the Maine Chance Equine Campus, all part of the University of Kentucky. They heard from equine scientists at the University of Kentucky, learning about specific research being conducted there and also about graduate programs available. Following the Symposium, PSERT members toured other equine venues in Kentucky.

Dr. Burt Staniar, PSERT adviser, and Associate Professor of Equine Science in Penn State's Department of Animal Science, said,  "The event is designed to foster a collaborative atmosphere of scientific discovery, networking, and sharing among undergraduate students. Our members plan to continue to collaborate with students from the University of Kentucky and Ohio State, sharing their passion for the health and well-being of the horse."

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "This was a tremendous and unique opportunity for our equine students to interact with their peers from other universities and to network with equine industry professionals. The symposium and the subsequent tours to these outstanding equine facilities offered valuable insight into career possibilities within the equine industry."

Caitlin Edinger, sophomore, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, said, "It was incredible to see the steps that people take to care for their horses due to their pivotal role in the Kentucky economic infrastructure."

For senior Animal Science senior Ellen Blum, the trip offered a window into the future. She said, "I have been thinking about what I am going to do after graduation. After being able to see Kentucky and all of the beautiful horses and breathtaking facilities, I am more confident in finding a job in the industry."

Students enjoyed a visit to Keeneland Racetrack, with an outstanding Thoroughbred racing program and the world's premier Thoroughbred auction house. Keeneland offers an extensive library in additional to supporting equine research and pursuing innovative equine safety and welfare initiatives.

They also visited the Kentucky Horse Park, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Kentucky Equine Research, the Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center, Three Chimneys, Winstar Farm and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

Details of the trip can be viewed at

The Penn State Equine Research Team is an official Penn State University student organization that was formed in 2008, and sponsored by the Department of Animal Science. It was the first official undergraduate equine research team in the nation, and has served to encourage the formation of teams at other universities. The 50 Penn State University team members are students interested in using the scientific method to answer questions regarding the health and performance of the horse. For more information, contact Dr. Staniar at, or 814-865-0698.




Caption: Penn State students at Keeneland Racetrack - third row, from left: Patricia Ochonski, Katie Baluch, Amy Kraus and Sam Lykon; second row: Molly Jordan, Samarah LaFoca, Hannah Allen, Ellen Blum, Laura Keller, Melissa Howe, Ashley Sutton, Lindsay August, Sara Groome, Shelia Zimmer and Nikki Engwall; first row: Caitlin Edinger, Danae Oliver, Burt Staniar and Rachel Spicher.