Catherine WallsStudent Research Spotlight - Catherine Walls

Catherine Walls won first place in the oral presentation category—University-Wide Undergraduate Student Winners in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—during the 2022 Auburn Research: Student Symposium.

Hometown:  Arab, Alabama
Degree and major: Bachelor of Arts in Poultry Science-Production with a minor in Business
College: Agriculture
Department: Poultry Science
Class year: Senior
Faculty mentors: Charles Starkey and Jessica Starkey

Textural Characteristics of Dehydrated Pet Treats Generated Using Broiler Wing Tips and a Structure Forming Agent

What are you researching?
This project is researching how to use undervalued co-products, like wing tips from broiler processing, to create a value-added pet treat by using a structure forming agent. The pet treat samples were created using differing amounts of a structure forming agent, and the textural characteristics were evaluated using the three-point bend test and the shear force test. These analyze toughness, firmness, hardness, flexibility and stiffness of the pet treats.

How could the results benefit individuals, agencies or companies?
The results of studies like this could benefit pet food companies and poultry companies. By creating a value-added product, poultry companies can sell the wing tips for a higher price to pet food companies. Pet food companies can make pet treats with a lower-cost ingredient that can be made with differing textural characteristics that target different customers.

Tell us why you enjoy research.
I enjoy research because it challenges me to critically think and it gives me skills and experience in my industry that others do not have the chance to have. As the Auburn Creed states, "...I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully..." (Petrie). Being involved in research allows me to obtain a different level of education while at Auburn.

What advice would you give to other students considering doing a research project?
I would tell other students who are considering doing a research project that they should take every opportunity while at Auburn to conduct research if they have any interest. At Auburn, we are given the opportunity to do research that we will never have anywhere else. I would have never thought I would be working in a research lab as a student, but being on the research side gives me a new appreciation for our industry and has taught me so much while giving me hands-on experience. I had never considered research, but this summer I decided to take an internship that is research-based.

Tell us about any hobbies or activities you enjoy.
Since coming to Auburn, I have gotten involved with the Poultry Science Club. Last year I was able to serve as communications officer and this year I was elected president of the club. I love getting to participate in club events and develop relationships with other people in the poultry industry. In my free time, I enjoy playing games, fishing and hanging out with my poultry science peeps and my family. While at Auburn I love to attend Auburn Community Church, and when I am home I love being able to serve the Lord at my local church. One of my all-time favorite activities is cheering on the Auburn Tigers in any sporting event! War Eagle!!

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