McNair Scholar 2018 Taylor Westfall-McCoy

Taylor Westfall-McCoy is a rising senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities. She is majoring in Animal Science through the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, and is on the pre-veterinary medicine track. She also is working on a minor in the History of Science and Technology. Taylor’s interests are mainly surrounding the study of performance animal care, specifically with equines and dogs. She plans to obtain her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine and specialize in elite performance animal athletes.

Taylor Westfall-McCoy headshot
My dream is to revolutionize the way that people think about the care of their animals. There is much work to be done as far as educating the average pet owner, and I believe that many things can be learned from the performance animal industry

Research project

Effect of β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate on Proteolysis via Ubiquitination in Equine Skeletal Muscle Cells Using Western Blot Techniques

Abstract: The desire by a trainer or nutritionist for their athlete to perform at the top of their game and be able to contribute consistent and winning results for their discipline is what drives the sports supplement industries—human or animal. The use of β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate, otherwise known as HMB, as an addition to athletes’ diets in order to aid in muscle recovery times and more specifically reduce the rate of muscle degradation has been well reported in human athletes, but the studies regarding animals are in the preliminary stages. Ubiquitin is found in the body as a “marker” that indicates which proteins should be degraded or destroyed. The intrigue surrounding the idea of being able to trace the reason that a protein, in this case a protein related to the skeletal muscles of horses, was degraded could be very useful for those who are interested in preventing that degradation to help their athlete succeed. The techniques that were used to delve deeper into this subject were that of Western Blot technique. The studies showed that HMB had no significant effect but there are other ways that HMB may affect protein degradation.

Faculty mentor

Dr. Hathaway received her BS in Animal Nutrition from Ohio State University where she then continued her education to receive her MS in Animal Science. Following the completion of her Master’s Degree, she came North to the University of Minnesota where she received her PhD in Animal Science. She has research interests that generally include subjects in the field of growth biology, more specifically skeletal muscle biology and nutrition. She has multiple publications within her discipline, including multiple in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Her recent publications include work studying, “the effect of hay net design on rate of forage consumption when feeding adult horses.” She worked on this project, and many others while at the University of Minnesota, with Dr. Krishona Martinson. Dr. Hathaway has also earned a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.