Sydney Stewart, an undergraduate student at Oklahoma State University, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to conduct research in Germany during the 2017-2018 academic year.
The Fulbright program places U.S. students in countries around the world where they act as an ambassador for the United States, work with research advisers, and learn about the people and culture.
Stewart, a graduate of Life School Red Oak Secondary School in Red Oak, Texas, is scheduled to graduate from OSU in May with a bachelor’s degree in animal science (pre-veterinary option) and a minor in microbiology. She will join a team of researchers from the Institute of Animal Sciences, in Bonn, Germany, to evaluate pig health and biosecurity measures on commercial swine farms in the rural northwestern part of the country.
“We will use bacterial samples taken from the animals, as well as animal health and performance data, to determine if pigs are more susceptible to particular pathogens (infection or disease-causing agents) at specific points in the pork production chain, and whether certain biosecurity measures are more effective than others at preventing the spread of pathogens among pig herds,” said Stewart.
She was attracted to Germany because livestock producers there have already gained a reputation for quickly adapting to strict regulations for antibiotic use in food animals, without sacrificing animal welfare and animal production performance.
“Germany is now the world's third-largest producer of pigs and pork products, and is one of Europe's top livestock producing members,” said Stewart. “By studying modern antibiotic-free disease control and prevention systems on commercial German farms, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each system, we may be able to develop viable, cost-effective, practical models for implementation on U.S. farms.”
Stewart, whose family is heavily involved in the U.S. agriculture industry, said she never imagined she’d have the opportunity take part in cutting-edge, internationally-significant research abroad while representing her country and the ag industry.
“To actually have that chance now is an incredible honor and a privilege, and I'm very grateful for my mentors in the Departments of Animal Science and Foreign Languages who encouraged me and supported me throughout the application process,” said Stewart. “I am inspired by Fulbright's mission to promote a 'cultural exchange' between people all over the world, and I strongly believe that my experiences in a diverse, innovative country like Germany will further my development as both a scientist and an effective advocate for agriculture.”
In addition to the Fulbright award, Stewart is a recipient of a General Honors Award and will graduate with the Departmental Honors Award and an OSU Honors College Degree. She is a three-year participant in the Animal Science Undergraduate Research Program, recipient of the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station Undergraduate Research Scholars Grant, and two-time recipient of the Lew Wentz Undergraduate Research Grant.
Stewart’s hobbies include cooking, photography, soccer, and horseback (trail) riding. She was a member of the 2015 OSU Intercollegiate Meats Judging Team and OSU German Club.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the country’s largest student exchange program, offering opportunities to students and young professionals for graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.
Funded by an annual congressional appropriation to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the program was initiated by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 for the promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.