Mooving Science Forward

Macy Moore in the lab

Resolving respiratory riddles in bovine and human health.

Iowa State University Foundation
Story by Susan Flansburg, Photo by Joe Sines, Bottlesode Films

As a child, Macy Moore devoted her time to helping her family’s small cow-calf operation near What Cheer, Iowa. She set her sights on becoming a veterinarian and imagined a future treating animals in a clinic. But when Macy arrived at Iowa State as an undergraduate, she made a discovery that changed her trajectory — she uncovered a passion for research. Now, the work she’s doing could help cattle, and even humans, avoid serious illness.

Macy’s love for inquiry took hold in Dr. Jodi McGill’s lab, assisting with groundbreaking research. Funded through McGill’s position as the John G. Salsbury Endowed Chair in Veterinary Medicine, the study is investigating new, non-antibiotic strategies to vanquish bovine respiratory disease. The potential impact is substantial.

“Bovine Respiratory Disease is one of the leading causes of death for the meat and dairy industry,” McGill says. “This research will make a big difference for producers who rely on these animals for their livelihood. Human RSV disease, which has similarities to bovine RSV, is responsible for one in 50 deaths in children under the age of five worldwide. This work may even save the lives of human infants and children someday.”

Illuminating insights

Macy’s work on this project sparked her passion in ways she hadn't expected.

“Dr. McGill is good at picking up on what you like. She says, ‘Let’s see if you enjoy that, too’ and allows you to get more involved. I’ve gained a lot of skills; I can run assays myself, and I’m confident in a lab setting,” Macy says. “I like that we’re always looking at both the animal and human side. It’s exciting to ask, what could my work mean for the person on the street?”

McGill says it’s rewarding to see students like Macy involved in such important research. She credits her endowed chair position for making this possible, and for fueling innovation.

“We all want to fund our students and do well by them. Many faculty researchers stay up at night stressing about how to pay their student workers. The endowed position helps me sleep at night,” McGill says. “It also allows new areas of research like Macy’s.”

Pioneering pathways

Thanks in part to McGill’s mentorship, Macy presented a poster about her research at a national conference (she was one of only five undergraduates in attendance) and was admitted to Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine two years early. She plans to continue in research as a doctorate or master’s candidate in the future, alongside earning her DVM. She says her course of study checks all the important boxes, as an animal lover, scientist, and people person.

“Academic research involves working with animals and collaborating with a diverse team, which has given me a broader perspective. You understand that science is a universal language,” Macy says. “Working with Dr. McGill has very much shaped my path. I want to keep exploring.”

May 2024