Indu Upadhyaya has been involved with the animal sciences since long before coming to UConn as a PhD student. Originally from Pondicherry, India, Upadhyaya received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research. After finishing her DVM program, she worked for eight months as a practicing veterinarian in India. In addition to providing veterinary services and counseling to pet owners and farmers, she volunteered in large animal and poultry vaccination campaigns, because these activities offered excellent opportunities to interact with farmers and understand the challenges and problems they face. During her internship in college, she had worked at various large and small-scale chicken farms, during which time she developed an interest in poultry safety. As her interest in poultry health and food safety continued to increase, she decided to pursue a PhD in food microbiology and food safety.
“I wished I could do a little more than just treat animals. I was hoping I would be able to research some of the prevalent diseases … to actually find strategies to cure them,” she says.
Working in the laboratory of her advisor, Kumar Venkitanarayanan, Upadhyaya’s PhD research investigates the potential of several plant molecules for reducing egg-borne transmission of Salmonella Enteritidis (S. Enteritidis) in chickens.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps in humans. The bacterium primarily colonizes the intestinal tract of animals and birds. It is commonly transmitted to humans by consumption of contaminated foods including beef, chicken, milk and eggs. In addition, other products, like Salmonella-contaminated fresh produce, can cause foodborne illnesses. Between January and September of 2014, there were eight outbreaks of Salmonella in the US, two of them from poultry and poultry products.
S. Enteritidis is responsible for major losses to the poultry industry; the annual loss from Salmonella-contaminated eggs is approximately $370 million. (more…)