Animals have always fascinated Jalani Brown. Following her childhood passion, the 22-year-old pursued her purpose of contributing to agriculture by earning a career in animal genetics.
The Fort Valley State University Wildcat will soon walk across the stage on May 13 to receive her master’s degree in animal science. Proud of her success, she said the occasion will be bittersweet because her experience at the historically Black university (HBCU) has been excellent ever since her freshman year.
Therefore, Brown continued her education at FVSU after earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 2021.
“During my undergrad, I gained the experience that I needed in classes like ruminant nutrition, reproductive physiology and animal breeding. I felt like I could get a job after I graduated, but I wanted to expand those skills,” she said.
Dr. Adel Moawad, FVSU assistant professor of animal science, encouraged her to return to the classroom, where she specializes in animal reproduction research.
“I feel like Fort Valley State has helped me develop my skills so that I can go into the workforce and be great,” Brown said.
However, her love for animals began way before she stepped onto FVSU’s campus. A native of Norcross, Georgia, Brown was exposed to agriculture at a young age.
“I grew up watching Animal Planet and National Geographic on television with my grandmother,” she said. “I started watching Dogs 101 and making flashcards with facts about dogs. The passion grew as I got older.”
In addition, the enthused scientist got involved in 4-H and poultry judging. Her grandfather also introduced her to raising chickens. “My parents and I had about 11 chickens at one point in the suburbs. My dad built a big chicken coop in the backyard,” she beamed. “It gave me an appreciation for people who take care of animals. It is a lot of work.”
Learning about FVSU’s animal science program, its status as an HBCU and 1890 Land-grant University, and the family-oriented environment inspired her to apply.
Throughout her time on campus, the scholarship recipient used her skills to present at events such as the Association of Research Directors (ARD) Conference and the Professional Agricultural Workers Conference (PAWC). She took home the first-place award in the graduate oral presentation at the PAWC. Also, she won first place in the graduate oral presentation for her research on the “Effects of L-Carnitine Dietary Supplementation on the Quality of Goat Semen” at the 2023 FVSU Research Day.
Her research involved investigating the effects of feeding L-Carnitine in powder form to goats every day for about two months. She conducted this study by collecting blood samples throughout the experiment.
“I looked at viability, concentration, abnormality, motility and testosterone. I wanted to see if the overall quality of the semen was better,” Brown explained. “The purpose of this research is to help meet the high demand for goat meat. If farmers can purchase this simple L-Carnitine powder, their goats can have better sperm quality and better fertility rates.”
As a result, she discovered that the L-Carnitine powder increased the goats’ testosterone, which heavily corresponds with fertility, between 30 and 60 days. Somewhat timid, Brown said her research efforts have prepared her for public speaking and networking. “It has also perfected my work ethic,” she noted.
These experiences have led to her landing a career opportunity before graduation. She will begin the next chapter of her life as an in vitro fertilization (IVF) technician at Trans Ova Genetics. The company provides industry-leading reproductive technologies to breeders looking to advance and extend superior genetics. Brown will train in Texas for three to six months at the end of May. Her training will include working in the IVF laboratory, combining embryos and sperm. She is stationed at the company’s new facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia, which will serve producers throughout the Southeast region of the country.
Brown is appreciative of her FVSU professors, especially Moawad for his mentorship. She said the institution is a close-knit community. She advises students to get to know their professors and other students. Although she enjoyed her years at FVSU, Brown is ready to move forward and apply all that she has learned.
“I’ve come, I’ve conquered, now I am ready to go out into the world and contribute,” she said. “I am excited to fulfill this lifelong passion I have had for animals and to benefit people in agriculture.”
For more information about the animal science graduate program at FVSU, visit https://bit.ly/fvsuanimalscience.