Jess sitting in a lawn chair holding her dog Finn on her lap and smiling at the camera.

Introducing… Jessica Fletcher!

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.

Hi everyone! I’m Jess and I am one of Dr. Verbrugghe’s new Masters by thesis students. I’d like to take this time to introduce myself so you can get to know a little about me and the research I will be focusing on!

Tell us about yourself!

I obviously have a passion for animals and nutrition and this was realized at a young age. I grew up on a beef farm in a small town and was always surrounded by animals and agriculture. Education is very important to me and I love to share fun facts I learn with others at random times!

Some fun facts about me: I can’t whistle, my favourite animal is a red panda, I’ve never eaten seafood, I was hired to work for Disney World until the pandemic cancelled my plans, my goal is to travel to New Zealand in the near-ish future and finally, if I could survive solely on chocolate I would!

Young woman, Jess Fletcher, holding medium brown dog, with pointed ears and and a black muzzle. Jess is laughing in the photo, and her dog, Finn, appears to enjoying the moment as well!
Jess and her dog, Finn

What program were you in before?

From 2016-2020 I was in the Animal Science program through the Ontario Agriculture College, here at Guelph. I’ll always be an Aggie at heart, (#2020Buffalo), but I’m excited for my new path in the OVC! My undergraduate program exposed me to various nutrition courses including beef, swine, pet and wildlife. It was great to experience all the avenues that animal nutrition has to offer and inspired me to become part of the industry.

When did you become interested in nutrition? 

In my pet nutrition class, I learned not only about nutrition, but it’s challenges, it’s joys and it’s future. Seeing the research possibilities in companion animal nutrition inspired me to make my mark on the industry and make a meaningful contribution. From there, I was able to see how nutrition affects various scientific fields, including biology, genetics and healthcare. The chance to combine my passion for animals with research, while collaborating with great names in the nutrition world is a blessing and I intend to learn as much as possible.

5 cats eating from a bowl
Growing up on a farm, cats are just one species that Jess shares her life with! Here are some of her working cats on her farm.

I have also had the opportunity to work in various aspects of the animal nutrition industry, including production facilities, retail and research, which has allowed me to see all sides of the industry. I highly recommend students find a way to work or volunteer in the career field they are interested in, as it will confirm your passion and help you find your niche before leaving school. These experiences definitely made me decide a Masters was the next step in my education and will set me up for success in the future.

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

Guelph was an obvious choice for my continued studies. Not only did I spend 4 great years at the University, but I have many mentors and people who inspire me who have come through OVC and Animal Biosciences’ doors. I knew I wanted to work with some of the best in the industry, while learning invaluable skills, so Guelph was an easy decision. Combining my goals and desire to expand my knowledge has led me to the Ontario Veterinary College master’s program and I’m excited to expand both my skills and knowledge.

Tell us about your pets, past or present

Since I grew up on a cow/calf beef farm, I like to say I’ve had dozens of pets in my life. I loved to spend my time out with our calves, giving them lots of snacks, scratches and occasionally taking my iPad out to educate them on the movie industry! Pictured here is an orphaned calf I raised named, Vylet and my dog, Duke.

A medium dog, brown and black with floppy ears and a plus coat, is sniffing a small, young, white calf. The dog is Duke, and the calf is Vylet.
Duke & Vylet

I also grew up with farm dogs and cats (pictured above), which meant I had to get a pet of my own when I moved away from home. This past June I adopted my first dog, Finneas aka Finn. He came from a rescue in Texas so his breed is a mystery; possibly Chihuahua and miniature pinscher? I’m open to guesses! He is a very sweet boy with lots of funny quirks, such as putting his feet on your face as a sign of love. I’m excited to see what he thinks of snow; he has already solidified his love of fuzzy blankets and heaters!

Finn, Jess' dog, is looking dapper in a colorful Hawaiian shirt. He is laying in the grass on a bright day.
Finneas aka Finn

What is the topic of your upcoming research project?

My research project is a component of a study already in progress in the department of Clinical Studies. The study seeks to compare L-carnitine and choline’s lipotropic effects and determine the efficacy of choline in regards to lipid metabolism. The objective of my project will focus on how L-carnitine and choline affect gene expression in liver, fat and muscle tissue of lean and obese cats. My hope for this project is that significant results will be found to aid in the reduction of feline obesity and the issues that can accompany the weight loss process, and hopefully help humans with fatty liver disease in the future as well.

Welcome to the team, Jess!