Alumni Spotlight: Sara Kvidera

Sara KvideraSara Kvidera found her passion for animal science close to home. Hailing from Traer, Iowa, on a row crop and cattle farm, Sara fell in love with cattle through taking care of the orphan calves on her family’s operation. She attended Kansas State University on a track and field scholarship from 2009 until 2012 while completing her undergraduate degree in animal science.

It was at Kansas State where Sara changed her focus from beef nutrition to dairy cattle. She took Physiology of Lactation, taught by Barry Bradford, and fell in love with the dairy cow, who, to Sara, is the “athlete of the farm animal world.” She soon joined Bradford’s lab and became passionate about the process of asking questions and doing research. Bradford’s friendship with Iowa State professor Lance Baumgard provided Sara with the connection to return home for graduate school. She liked the culture fostered by Baumgard and was interested in what he was studying: heat stress, immune health, and bioenergetics.

Sara graduated from Iowa State in 2017 with her Ph.D. in nutritional science with a ruminant nutrition focus. She studied the gut health in pigs, steers, and lactating cows, as well as the energetic requirements of an activated immune system.

Currently, Sara works for Elanco Animal Health as a dairy technical consultant. She provides
technical support for products and customers wherever they need it. When asked how Iowa State prepared her for this role, Sara said, “The culture I had in my lab at Iowa State was very good. I was able to learn how to learn, how to teach, and how to communicate information in a way that makes sense to others.” She claims the environment of collaboration with her lab mates was critical for setting her up for success. “I was able to learn how to ask the next question, figure out the answer, and communicate that to others.” She also credits Iowa State for its strong network within the dairy industry.

Sara’s most meaningful moment in her time at Iowa State was when she completed her first live phase research project. “Doing a live cow trial from start to finish was a monumental task. Completing that was a big step forward to becoming responsible and getting things done. It gave me confidence in myself that I hadn’t felt before.”

Her favorite class was AN S 620: Advanced Nutrition and Metabolism – Energy with Dr. Baumgard. She loved that it asked a lot of questions about where energy goes in an animal, and she uses it every single day in her job with the products that she supports. When asked if she had any advice for current students in animal science, Sara replied, “It’s important to ask more questions than you answer. Listen and ask questions with the intent to understand rather than the intent to reply. The more you learn and understand, the better you can help someone in the future.”