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Undergraduate Student Presents KER Research at Scientific MeetingBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 11, 2015

Abby Gates, an undergraduate student at Georgetown College, recently presented research at the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) Southern Section Meeting in Atlanta. Conducted at Kentucky Equine Research (KER), the study examined the effects of nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC) levels on equine stress and behavior using heart rate variability indices.

The opportunity to conduct the research arose from Gates’ participation in the Georgetown College Program to Accelerate Learning in the Sciences (GC-PALS), which provides funding for undergraduate research. She approached Joe Pagan, Ph.D., the founder and president of KER, about the possibility of an internship. Together, Pagan and Gates crafted the study, which was designed to measure tangible differences in behavior in horses fed diets low in NSC.  

Gates performed the study in the summer of 2014. Designed as a hands-on internship, Gates spent many hours a day at the research facility. In addition to data collection, she was responsible for all aspects of horse care, including daily stall maintenance, feeding, turn out, and grooming.

The combined experience of performing research and then presenting it to other scientists proved rewarding for Gates. “This has given me the priceless opportunity to not only perform research as an undergraduate, which itself can be a difficult goal to obtain, but also to present it at a regional meeting,” said Gates. “I really enjoyed being able to share the research with like-minded people, not to mention being able to attend other presentations.”

KER maintains a robust internship program, offering several summer and yearlong internships for individuals with a keen interest in equine nutrition and exercise physiology. For more information about the KER internship programs, including requirements for admission, visit


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