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Sarah Pearce
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Dr. Pearce acts as a Research Animal Physiologist within the Agroecosystems Management Research Unit at NLAE. The Research is conducted under the ARS National Research Program 101-Food Animal Production. The goals of Dr. Pearce’s personal research are to determine the impact of nutrition programs (e.g., phytochemicals), external environmental stressors (e.g., heat stress), and internal physiological stressors (e.g., pathogens) on basic and applied mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract necessary to maintain or improve animal productivity, reduce oxidative stress, and maintain the structural integrity of the gastrointestinal tract.


Was there an event or a person who inspired you to become a scientist? 

My sister Molly was born with a congenital birth defect called “Hirschprungs” disease which affects the neurons of the gastrointestinal tract. She wasn’t supposed to live past birth, but she lived to almost 25.  She was an inspiration to me, and also loved animals as much as I did. She’s the reason I specifically went into gastrointestinal research.


What attracted you to ARS or the NLAE?

 I did my PhD at Iowa State University on the negative effects of heat stress on growing pigs under a USDA/NIFA climate change grant. I was also introduced to other USDA researchers during that time. When I learned more about the research at ARS, and the connections to NADC, Iowa State, and Industry, I was interested in pursuing a career here. I waited 7 years for the right position to open up, and jumped on it!


What is your favorite aspect of conducting research?

 I get excited about method development and my ultimate favorite thing to do is analyze new data (it’s like Christmas morning for me!).


If you could achieve any research accomplishment in the next 5-10 years what would it be and why would you choose it?

 I hope to conduct research/be involved in research that initiates policy change or has a real life application to animal production, such as a successful non-antibiotic intervention for disease/stress.


Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people who don’t know you? 

 I have a rescue mixed-breed dog that I spend a lot of time training. His name is Jasper and he is a registered canine good citizen and advanced level trick dog!