2018-19 – Phase 1

Success Story #1: Hannah Creaser was a nutrition Intern to Kenya from May –August 2018, and she had a tremendous internship, having a chance to enhance her communication and leadership skills, and obtaining an incredible intercultural experience in another country, giving her a new global perspective. I strongly believe that her Internship gave her the confidence and appeal to be voted, on March 14/19, the valedictorian for the Arts and Science convocation at UPEI in May. This is a fabulous honour and well-deserving. A great success.  She is below with Salome Ntinyari.


Success Story #2:  Emily Kathambi Kiugu successfully defended her MSc thesis. Emily’s thesis included cross-sectional studies describing the comfort of calves and cows on smallholder dairy farms, along with a randomized controlled trial to determine compliance and effectiveness of oral and written recommendations on cow comfort on smallholder dairy farms in Naari, Kenya.

The cross-sectional studies were informative, determining baseline levels of cow and calf comfort, and factors associated with good comfort, which will be very useful moving forward with giving recommendations to farmers in the future. The trial results were particularly informative and what we would consider a big success story. These trial results would suggest that the process of giving farm-specific recommendations to farmers on how to improve cow comfort and having farmers participate in the implementation of the changes led to good acceptance and improvement in cow comfort. Three-quarters of the farmers felt they understood the recommendations well enough to make the recommended changes to improve cow comfort. We were quite pleased with this, knowing that we would not get 100% of farmers complying with the recommendations for various reasons. A success story – confirming a development model that is sustainable – we cannot make cow comfort changes to all 2 million smallholder dairy farms in Kenya but we can train animal health personnel on cow comfort requirements and they give recommendations to farmers.

She has one chapter published in a peer-reviewed journal from her Masters thesis, she has a second paper submitted to a journal, and she is working on third. She has a part-time teaching position at the University of Meru, with hopes of transforming that position into a full-time position, improving the human resources in Kenya – another success story.

emily jpg cowcomfort before and after


Success Story #3: Joan Muraya successfully defended her PhD thesis. Joan started the PhD as a single Mom and therefore had to balance her studies with her responsibilities as a mother, and this meant that she had to work hard during the times she allocated to her studies. She is hard-working and organized and she performed well in both her coursework and her thesis data collection, analyses and writing.  Her communication skills with the farmers were excellent, and they loved her infectious laugh and big smile. She also demonstrated a real empathy for the farmers’ situations and concerns regarding improving their cattle reproductive performance, and she would do whatever she could to help. Her technical skills on the farms (cattle handling and reproductive rectal exams) were also clearly superior. She was a remarkable leader in the data collection processes on the farms in Kenya. She was a joy to work with and I am so proud of her successfully defending her thesis, and it’s novel findings (in the unexpected results section) despite her challenges. She adapted very well to life in Canada, and she has become an excellent global-minded QES Scholar – a real success.

She has one chapter published in a peer-reviewed journal from her PhD thesis, she has a second paper submitted to a journal, and she is working on a third. She is returning to her position at the University of Nairobi veterinary college, improving the human resources in Kenya. Another success.

Joan Muraya and a high protein calliandra shrub
Joan Muraya and a high protein calliandra shrub

Success Story #4:  Dennis Makau successfully defended his PhD thesis. Dennis has demonstrated excellent research potential with the 5 substantive chapters of primary research in his thesis showing various means of enhancing the nutrition of cows and calves on smallholder dairy farms in Kenya. His communications skills (both written and oral) really blossomed through the PhD thesis period, so much so that I was very impressed when he did a great job delivering some epidemiology material in my graduate epidemiology course at UPEI. His data management and analysis skills became very strong, which will serve him well in future research endeavours. His leadership skills also improved greatly, becoming adept as multi-tasking as he managed his required thesis courses and activities along with additional courses in infectious diseases that were not required but he took for interest. He adapted very well to life in Canada, and has become an excellent global-minded QES Scholar.  A great success.

He has two chapters published in a peer-reviewed journal from his PhD thesis, he has two other papers submitted to a journal, and she is working on another. He has applied for a professor position at the University of Nairobi veterinary college, and should be offered that position – another success – improving the human resources in Kenya.

calliandra IMG_2101

Success Story #5:  Ashley Kroyer and Lee Wesselius were an awesome pair of Interns, with many farmers being very happy with the on-farm practical advice they provided. They were frequently given gifts of food and drink from the farmers to thank them. Previous pairs of vet students have been very good as well, but the comments about Ashley and Lee were even more positive, so I wanted to share that as a success as well. Another success is that Ashley is working on a dairy farm part-time while at vet school to get even more dairy cattle experience, is now the Vice-President of the International Veterinary Medicine Club at UPEI, and intends to pursue international development in the future.

sexed semen heifer 2 mo old IMG_2611

Success Story #6:  Madi Brauer presented findings of her research activities as a nutrition QES Intern while in Kenya in 2018 to the Science Atlantic conference at Mount St. Vincent University in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Apparently she did a great job because she won the “Science Communication Award” for the presentation.  The award consisted of a small monetary prize and help from the Atlantic Student Research Journal team to edit and publish my findings. The award description states “to the student who best communicates a science topic to their peers”.


Madi is on the right, beside Hannah. Dr. Jennifer Taylor is in the middle.