3MT 2023 Finalist  Laura Enekegho

Laura Enekegho

Biochemistry, College of Health Sciences

Gut Warriors: Weaponizing Probiotics to Kill SuperBugs in Chickens

Introduce yourself…

I’m a second year Master’s student in the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. In my spare time, I love reading, weightlifting and spending time with friends.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

My thesis focuses on developing alternative therapeutics that can be used for treating foodborne illnesses in poultry birds. This project looks at building improved yeast probiotics with high specificity and killing activity against the pathogenic bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses in chickens. In the future, I hope our experimental probiotics can be incorporated into poultry feed and can serve as a helpful alternative to antibiotics.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

Before presenting my 3MT, I often wondered how best to write or talk about my research to my friends and family. The 3M thesis experience has been functional in helping me develop a deeper understanding for my research and how best to convey it in a simplified manner. The peer-reviewed session was helpful for thinking about my project from different lenses and guiding me through knowledge translation.

What inspires you to do research?

I’m a naturally curious person and I enjoy being able to combine my love for biochemistry, gut science and medicine into my project. Meeting and working with farmers and agriculturalists impacted by my research has played a major role in fostering my passion. Through my research, I hope to continue improving the quality of animal agriculture in Alberta and the world at large.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Probiotics, chickens, pathogens

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities at large?

Foodborne illnesses caused by pathogens are a major issue in poultry farms across Edmonton, Alberta and the world at large, They reduce productivity and growth and affect the livelihoods of poultry farmers. My project can be used to benefit the poultry industry by bringing alternative therapeutics that can be easily incorporated in chicken feed. With healthy chickens, poultry farms can be able to provide the world’s second favourite meat!

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

Where would we be without our poultry farmers? I’d love to dedicate my research to those all around the world who help to breed, rear and keep farm chickens healthy and comfortable.

3MT Image Description: Image shows a broiler chicken with a thought bubble as an insight into the chicken's small intestine. Within the thought bubble is a weaponized probiotic killing some deadly superbugs.

Watch Laura's Three Minute Thesis