Meet graduate student Dominique Martin


Dominique Martin with two UConn foals.
Dominique Martin with two UConn foals.

Dominique Martin is serious about horses, having owned one since the age of twelve. She plans a career in research, with her ultimate goal involving equine research. Martin is a mentor for the Department of Animal Science, training undergraduates in laboratory techniques and cell culture. She contributed to this blog as a recipient of the Gavitt Grant, which places interns in the CAHNR Office of Communications. Here is what she said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate? What was your major? As a freshman I went to Centenary University in New Jersey and was an equine science major. I decided that Centenary was not the right school for me and transferred to UConn as a sophomore and pursued animal science.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school? I decided to go to graduate school after getting involved in undergraduate research. Coming into college I wanted to go to vet school, but quickly realized I really enjoyed research. I worked on my undergraduate honors thesis in Assistant Professor Sarah Reed’s lab and decided I wanted to continue researching.

Who is your advisor? What is your field of research? My advisor is Dr. Reed. My master’s thesis research is evaluating how poor maternal nutrition during gestation alters offspring muscle metabolism. Our lab works on a collaborative project that uses sheep as a model, to understand how over- and under-feeding mothers during gestation impacts offspring development. However, as a graduate student I have been involved in multiple different projects in the lab, which I really enjoyed.

Name one aspect of your work that you like. One thing I particularly like about research, especially animal science research, is that every day is different. Some days I’m down at the barn taking care of sheep or ultrasounding horses, and others I am in lab doing cell culture or running an assay. I am always quite busy and rarely bored, which makes it interesting.

In your opinion, what is your greatest accomplishment so far? My biggest accomplishment happened at the American Society of Animal Science National Meeting last summer. I presented my research in a poster competition for master’s students and ended up winning first place. Grad school has gotten me over my fear of public speaking, so it was an accomplishment not only to win, but to realize that I figured out how to talk in front of an audience.

When do you expect to get your degree? What then? I am defending May 2, so I will graduate this summer. After that I am planning to get a job and continue doing scientific research. Long-term I would like to go back and get my Ph.D., but for now I want to work for a few years.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? One thing is that I am an avid horseback rider. I began riding at age four and I’m pretty sure horses are the reason I decided to become an animal science major. As an undergraduate, I rode on the UConn Equestrian team and was president for two years.

By Kim Colavito Markesich