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Published April 12, 2018
Bonnie Youmans, a University of Wyoming alumna, McNair Scholar and current researcher at the University of Minnesota, is the keynote speaker for the 2018 UW Undergraduate Research Day banquet Saturday, April 28.
Youmans grew up in Laramie with a family that strongly supported her education. She graduated from Rock River High School and, as a first-generation college student, obtained a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from UW.
At UW, she was awarded a funded research internship through the McNair Scholars Program. She conducted an independent research project under the mentorship of Gerard Andrews in the Department of Veterinary Sciences. Her project developed improved testing and diagnosis procedures for sheep brucellosis, a disease that is potentially devastating to the wool industry.
This undergraduate research experience at UW opened up opportunities for her to further her education and career goals. The year following her McNair internship, she was recruited by the Baylor College of Medicine SMART (Summer Medical and Research Training) Program, which offered her more hands-on experience in research.
Youmans then was accepted into the Ph.D. program in molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award that funded the last two years of her graduate studies. Her work at BCM was related to the Human Microbiome Project, where she worked to identify bacteria that live in the gut and how they change during disease. She earned her Ph.D. in December 2013.
She then did a postdoc with Tim Johnson in the Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Minnesota, applying her human microbiome research to commercially raised poultry to identify how changes in bacterial communities affect poultry growth and performance.
Youmans decided to stay in Minnesota and is currently a project manager for Johnson. In addition to poultry microbiome research, she is involved in projects aiming to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens in the poultry industry and developing probiotics that promote poultry gut health.
The McNair Scholars Program at UW is 100 percent funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It provides graduate school preparation and undergraduate research opportunities for first-generation and limited-income students. The McNair Scholars Program is part of Student Educational Opportunity under the Office of Academic Affairs.