Meet alumna Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson
Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth Johnson came to the Department of Animal Science as a graduate student to work with barn animals and add research experience to her credentials. Knowing how selective veterinary medicine programs are, she wanted to find a way to distinguish herself from other applicants. She succeeded by researching a plant-derived microbial treatment to prevent illness in dairy and beef cattle that caught the attention of several entrepreneurial and business organizations. She graduated this month and is heading to Tennessee to begin studying veterinary medicine. Here is what she said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

Elmira College in Elmira, NY.

What was your major?

Biology.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I wanted to go to veterinary school and wanted something to differentiate myself from the other applicants. I knew that by coming to UConn, I would have access to the barn animals as well as research experience that would set me apart from the others.

Who was your advisor?

Dr. Xiuchun (Cindy) Tian in the Department of Animal Science.

What was your field of research?

The lab mainly worked on biotechnology. My project was developing a natural treatment to prevent diseases, namely pneumonia and mastitis, in cattle caused by a bacteria called Mycoplasma bovis. Our lab has used the natural compounds on Mycoplasma bovis cells to show that they are effective in inhibiting their growth and we have also completed a toxicity study with the compounds in mice as well.

Name one aspect of your work that you liked.

I have really enjoyed the variety in it all. I liked that one day I’m down at the barns, the next day I’m in the lab and in between all of that doing the business side of the project.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?

Increasing the awareness of Mycoplasma bovis and working towards developing a natural treatment that farmers will be able to use reliably over time.

Since our lab saw the need for an effective treatment for Mycoplasma bovis, we created MycoZap, a product through a business called VigorSential. We began by attending Accelerate UConn in the spring of 2018 and then we moved into the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Summer Fellowship Program in the summer of 2018 to learn how to create the business side of things.

From there we have attended and gotten awards for our entrepreneurship at the Wolff New Venture Competition, the Connecticut Entrepreneur Innovation Awards and the Connecticut Entrepreneur Awards. I will continue to remain part of the company.

What do you hope to do now that you have your degree?

I will be attending Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee Veterinary Medicine program for the next four years.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

During my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for 3 weeks. While I was there I had the great opportunity of shadowing some farmers and veterinarians as well as immerse myself in the amazing Irish culture.

By Jason M. Sheldon