Student Spotlight: Claudia DeLeon

Claudia DeLeonWith a lifelong passion for animals of all shapes and sizes, Claudia DeLeon’s journey in the Iowa State University animal science program started like many, with the desire to become a veterinarian. 

When DeLeon made the journey to Iowa from her home state of Florida, she fully expected to leave as a veterinarian, but as she went through the undergraduate program, it became evident that her true passion was in the research field rather than medicine. After she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in animal science in the spring of 2021, DeLeon decided to continue at Iowa State to pursue her master’s degree in animal physiology. 

Working closely with Assistant Professor Dawn Koltes, DeLeon is working to better the future of the poultry industry through research on embryonic mortality and Salmonella. During the first research project of her master’s program, Claudia’s focus was on investigating if bacteria presence within fertilized broiler breeder eggs and dietary factors influence embryonic death. DeLeon is lined up to work on a research project that focuses on Salmonella, looking at how different diets and micronutrients can affect the shed of Salmonella in poultry. This research and data will be a large part of her thesis but, unfortunately, may be postponed due to the rise in Avian Influenza cases in early 2022. Overall, she is passionate about research that encompasses intestinal health and the microbiome. 

DeLeon has not only continued her education but continued to find herself as well. When asked if there was an achievement she was most proud of, DeLeon stated, “My personal growth, not only have I become more confident in myself, but I have also found myself becoming more comfortable with setting boundaries and prioritizing my mental health.” While DeLeon is in no rush to finish her educational journey, having already looked into doctorate programs, she is excited to get out and impact the industry.  

Though DeLeon’s goals and intentions have changed from when she first came to Iowa State, her passion for animals and the industry has only grown stronger, just like her confidence. She said she really enjoys mentoring and being the person that others feel comfortable reaching out to and helping them gain the confidence she felt she lacked when she first came to Iowa State.  

DeLeon’s advice to new students: 

“It’s important to make connections with people and have someone to reach out to and answer your questions. I also want to say that you should prioritize your mental health and do what works best for you.”