Name: Elizabeth Boudaher
From: Sydney, Australia
Degrees and institute where received: BS in animal health and disease, minor in animal nutrition, honors in animal and veterinary bioscience, University of Sydney, Australia.

Upon completing her undergraduate degree, Elizabeth Boudaher decided to take a year off to work in the animal industry. During that time, she consulted with her research supervisor about her options in pursuing a doctoral degree in equine microbiology, the focus of her undergraduate research project.

“He informed me that the best places to study were Melbourne, Ireland, and Kentucky,” she said. “With Lexington being the ‘Horse Capital of the World’ and with UK (the University of Kentucky) having the Gluck Equine Research Center, it only made sense to pick UK.”

Boudaher is working under the direction of Carrie L. Shaffer, PhD, assistant professor at the Gluck Center, and is applying next-generation sequencing technologies to study how Rhodococcus equi interacts with horse immune cells to cause disease and to catalog the repertoire of virulence determinants.

When asked what her most valuable takeaway from the program is so far, Boudaher said, “The most valuable lessons really come from the research component of the PhD program.

“Not only do you learn so many new things as you obtain results, but you also learn about yourself,” she said. “Research is very finicky, so when things go right, it’s an amazing feeling. But when things go wrong, and they will, you are presented with an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and how to cope with failure.

“For me, the most valuable take away, and one of the most important traits to have in research, is to be confident in your abilities even when things aren’t going the way that you would like them to,” Boudaher said.

She expects to graduate in 2021 and plans to obtain a postdoctoral position within equine microbiology to further refine her scientific skillset and expand her knowledge base.


Author: Alexandra Harper