A cat with it's tongue out

Introducing…Olivia Chiu!

With a new school year starting, we are excited to introduce you to our new team members who have joined us this fall! We will be interviewing our new team members to help you become acquainted with them as professionals, students and people.

Hello! I would like to formally introduce myself to everyone. My name is Olivia Chiu and I am a master’s by coursework student with the Pet Nutrition team here at OVC Clinical Studies. 

1. How would you describe yourself? 

I would describe myself as a very determined and goal-oriented person. Once I have my mind set on something, I won’t stop until I have achieved that goal. I am also a person that time-manages well, I use a planner or a calendar to organize what needs to get done and budget my time according to the deadline. I would also describe myself as a very active person. I try going on hikes and trail walks any chance I can get. Regardless of what I do, I will always do my best and strive above and beyond. 

2. What interests or motivates you most? 

I love learning, and I think that I will always will for the rest of my life. Continuing education is very important for me and for the future career I have ahead. In my personal life, I have found that the weight lifting has been a good outlet for me to explore. It has helped me feel both mentally and physically better. This has made me into quite the gym rat! My family also motivates me to improve in every aspect of life, so I hope that I can make them proud by doing what I love. 

3. What program were you in before this, what undergrad? 

Before becoming a Masters student in the Department of Clinical Studies I did my Bachelor of Science here at the University of Guelph, majoring in Animal Biology. I just graduated in June 2020 and fully enjoyed my program while experiencing everything Guelph has to offer, from volunteer opportunities to the fun-filled days of College Royal. I initially did my undergrad research project in dairy cattle reproduction but have always had a curiosity for nutrition in companion animals, so I am very excited to get started on my project. 

4. When did I become interested in nutrition?  

I became interesting in nutrition during my undergrad. Although it was not the topic of my undergrad research project, it was always a topic that would come up in literature reviews, paper discussions, and in class as well. I find nutrition incredibly interesting because there are so many animals with different needs in nutrition. As an example, taurine is an essential amino acid for felines and it must be provided in the diet because they lack enzymes that allow for the synthesis of taurine endogenously. In many species, the nutritional needs of most mammals follow a similar trend; however, the exceptions to these trends is one of the reasons why nutrition is incredibly fascinating. Nutrition is also always evolving and changing as researchers conduct studies to better understand the mechanisms in which these diets act upon the body.  

5. What made me choose this graduate program and what are you looking forward to most about it? 

I have always kept my options open when looking into a graduate program throughout my undergrad, but after looking into so many programs, I knew that a program in clinical studies was the best fit for me. I know that the knowledge that I would gain from my time in this department would be invaluable. Learning from a department that does so much work for veterinary medicine is truly an honor and I hope that my contribution to the area of research makes at least a small difference. I am most looking forward to learning a more in depth side of nutrition that was not touched on in undergrad. The studies here are focused on a particular topic that allow for a deeper insight into the world of nutrition. I look forward to looking at nutrition from a research point of few rather than as a consumer on the outside. 

6. Tell us about your pets, past or present.

Where do I even start? All my life I’ve had pets, whether that be as small as a goldfish or as big as a horse, there was never a time where I didn’t have an animal. 

A horse in a field on a fall day.

Previously, I had a horse named Roxie, who was a Canadian Warmblood mare. I had her for about two years before I unfortunately had to sell her because I was not giving her the attention she needed while I was at school. In the time I had her, did some brief showing with her in the jumper divisions.  

A small white dog laying on the grass next to yellow and red flowers.

Here is my dog named Jaci that came into my life in 2012. She is a 10-year-old Bichon Frise/Maltese mix who is a complete princess and loves eating all her Greenies.

A brown bunny laying in the shaded grass on a sunny day.

Bumble is my 9-year-old dwarf rabbit, that has colouring and hair pattern like a bumble bee. He loves to hop around the backyard and eat all of my mom’s garden plants. He loves his cuddle time with me, but will run away if my dog, Jaci, comes anywhere near him.  

7. What is the topic of your upcoming research project? 

My research project this year will be focusing on the topic of feline microbiome. We will be exploring the microbiome, metagenome and metabolomics of the feline fecal samples and how storage conditions and time may affect their profiles. I am excited for this opportunity and the results it may bring. 

Written by: Olivia Chiu

Edited by: Shoshana Verton-Shaw