2022 Student Scholarship Winner: Emily Girka

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Published on: December 6, 2022

My dissertation research on oocyte maturation has the potential to benefit commercial in vitro embryo production; however, it can be difficult to bridge the gap between molecular-based studies and production-minded applications. My objectives for attending the 2022 AETA convention were to improve my techniques for follicle aspiration and embryo transfer, learn about efficient management of donor cattle, and network with professionals in the industry.

As I do not come from a background in production, attending the presentations and “Student and Technician” session has greatly improved my knowledge of how oocytes and embryos are handled in the industry, where conditions are not always favorable to maximize pregnancy rates. In the past few years, I have learned to perform follicle aspiration, collecting oocytes both for in vitro maturation and after in vivo maturation. Many of the problems I have encountered during this research were addressed during the troubleshooting section of the preconference seminar. This knowledge will help improve my recovery rates, especially with the challenges associated with collecting large ovulatory follicles. Along with learning to aspirate, I have become involved in the synchronization and management of donor cattle. Incorporating the use of cattle in my research has heightened my interest in follicle stimulation protocols and the effects of FSH on the developmental competence of oocytes. It was interesting to hear the differences in collection protocols between stimulated and nonstimulated donor animals, especially because the majority of my current research depends on FSH treatment. The presentations on donor management and synchronization, recombinant FSH, and human IVF have also prompted new ideas for current and future experiments.

Between sessions and during the socials, I was able to connect with practitioners from across the nation. It was also an amazing chance to connect with other graduate and veterinary students with similar interests. I particularly enjoyed meeting alums from both my alma mater and current institution (Boiler Up and Geaux Tigers!).

I would like to thank the selection committee for choosing me as one of the scholarship recipients and the AETA members for being so welcoming and sharing their expertise. I hope to see everyone again next year in Orlando!

Emily Girka

Louisiana State University

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