Samuel LeivaStudent Research Spotlight - Samuel Leiva

Samuel Leiva won first place in the category, University-Wide Graduate Student Winners in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, during the 2020 Auburn Research: Virtual Student Symposium.

Name: Samuel Francisco Leiva Murcia
Hometown: Copan Ruinas, Honduras
Major: Master of Science in Poultry Science
College: Agriculture
Department: Poultry Science
Class year: 2020
Faculty mentor: Jessica Starkey and Charles Starkey

Effect of Dietary Protein Source on Broiler Chicken Growth Performance, Myogenic Stem Cell Activity and Heterogeneity, and Muscle Fiber Morphometrics


What are you researching?
Muscle stem cells, also known as satellite cells, play a key role in hypertrophic skeletal muscle growth of broiler chickens, and their activity during the early post-hatch stage is determinant for meat yield. We are studying how different dietary protein sources affect the myogenic stem cell activity and muscle fiber cross sectional area in breast muscle of fast-growing chickens and how this affects their growth performance. We are also studying the effects of different maternal and post-hatch dietary treatments on the intestinal development and immunity of young broiler chickens.

How could the results benefit individuals, agencies or companies?
The results of this study increase our understanding of how growth performance and muscle accretion are affected by different dietary treatments in meat-type chickens and provides information that could potentially help to improve efficiency of poultry production. This study could also represent a precedent for future research on how dietary treatments affect myopathies like wooden breast which cause the poultry industry millions of dollars in product losses every year.

Tell us why you enjoy research.
I like agricultural research because it is a hands-on multidisciplinary experience that allows me to apply knowledge acquired in the classroom to real-world situations and challenges me to think critically to solve problems. I enjoy caring for animals and studying how nutrition and environmental conditions can improve production efficiency, assuring the quality and affordability of animal protein for human consumption. It is also fulfilling to know that the findings of our studies can help feed a growing global population that demands good quality protein.

What advice would you give to other students considering doing a research project?
My advice for students considering doing a research project is to choose an area of research that you are passionate about and that you will enjoy spending time doing. Research is a great opportunity to network and build relationships that can help you advance in your professional career, as well as to share your knowledge and learn from your peers.

Tell us about any hobbies or activities you enjoy.
During my free time I enjoy hiking and outdoor activities. I like to play soccer and spending time with family and friends. I also enjoy travelling and visiting historic places.

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