AETA 2018 Scholarship Winner Report: Eric Zwiefelhofer

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Published on: December 27, 2018

I would like to thank the AETA for allowing me to attend the AETA/CETA Annual Conference in Montreal this year. I have wanted to attend the meeting since being introduced to the embryo transfer (ET) world while working with AETA accredited ET veterinarians in Wisconsin. Following my completion of my BS in dairy science from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, I ventured north to the University of Saskatchewan in Canada to pursue my PhD in the area of cattle reproduction, specifically working with fixed-time artificial insemination protocols utilizing a nonsteroidal approach. Following the completion of my program, I plan to move back to Wisconsin and work in the ET industry as an AETA certified practitioner.

I come from a graduate student background where conferences can sometimes be overly scientific, and I sometimes find myself asking what the real-world take away is. When the pre-conference session began, I knew that this was real-world, practical knowledge that could be applied to the field of embryo transfer. Although all of the topics were very informative, the talk that made me think the most was the talk by David Kenny. His research revolved around nutrition in pre-pubertal bulls, but it had implications on early puberty in heifers as well. Although oocytes can be collected from pre-pubertal heifers, oocyte competence is lower and therefore achieving puberty earlier may result in better oocyte quality and shorten the generation interval. He also brought up the interesting topic of epigenetics, which was a new topic to me.

As informative as the scientific sessions were, I benefitted most from networking with practitioners and students from across North America. I was impressed with the openness of all the practitioners and the responses of the many questions regarding the topics presented. I want to thank David Duxbury and Glenn Engelland for mentoring my table at the student/mentor lunch. The knowledge that I received in a short time went far beyond the ET industry. The banquet also allowed me to interact with students and form lifelong connections.

I want to sincerely thank the AETA for allowing me to attend their annual conference and also to the board, sponsors, and members for making the meeting successful. The knowledge and connections that I received in Montreal will be beneficial to myself when I begin a career in the ET industry. I am looking forward to next year’s meeting already. Thank you again.

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