Alumni Spotlight: Erin Horst

erin horstErin Horst certainly did not start her degree in animal science thinking she would end up in a job that is focused on dairy cows. But, through her time at Iowa State, Erin fell in love with the dairy cow metabolism and how it is compared to the marathon runner of the livestock world.

Originally from Van Horne, Iowa, Erin grew up on a farrow-to-finish swine farm. She started her animal science degree with the goal of becoming a small-animal veterinarian. Then, during her junior year, Erin took ANS 319: Animal Nutrition with Lance Baumgard. It was here she discovered that graduate school was an option after graduation and decided not to pursue veterinary school. She loved what she was learning and wanted to continue to study it at a higher level.

During her undergraduate time at Iowa State, Erin was involved as a teaching assistant for ANS 214L: Domestic Animal Anatomy and Physiology Lab and ANS 337: Lactation. She was also a member of the Pre-Veterinary Club. Most important to her future career path, she worked for Lance Baumgard in his laboratory, helping with research in dairy and swine.

Erin earned her Ph.D. from Iowa State in June of 2020 under the guidance of Baumgard. Her dissertation focused on how inflammation and immune activation influences energy partitioning and calcium homeostasis. Erin dove into understanding the root causes of many transition cow health disorders and looked at how the cow’s health space influences her productivity.

She currently works as a dairy technical consultant with Elanco Animal Health. In this role, Erin supports customers by sharing recent research behind the products they offer. With this information, she can communicate why the products work and how they are best implemented. Also, Erin is able to continue to ask questions and do further research to support Elanco and their products.

When asked how Iowa State prepared her for this role, Erin responded, “Iowa State offers a lot of opportunities to help you grow. They have incredible faculty members who can help you find your path. They are passionate, involved in the industry, and constantly working with companies. Utilize the faculty to understand what exists after graduation.” Erin also credits graduate school for helping her be more comfortable in speaking about research. She says it taught her how to communicate difficult research concepts to a large audience in a clear way, which is something she still does in her role today.

Erin’s advice for current students: “Challenge yourself to find what other opportunities could exist because there could be something that hasn’t crossed your mind. Also, strive to be a lifelong learner and opportunities will follow”