UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Ashley Wagner-Wells

Ashley Wagner-Wells’ research focused on equine protein metabolism and skeletal muscle physiology.
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UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Ashley Wagner-Wells
Ashley Wagner-Wells studied equine protein metabolism and skeletal muscle physiology during her time at UK. | Photo Credit: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture

Name: Ashley Wagner-Wells
From: Cheriton, Virginia
Degree and institutions where received: BS in Animal Science and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech;
MS in Animal and Poultry Science with an emphasis in nonruminant nutrition, Virginia Tech;
PhD in Animal and Food Sciences with an emphasis in equine nutrition, University of Kentucky.

Ashley Wagner-Wells chose to study equine protein metabolism and skeletal muscle physiology at the University of Kentucky (UK) under the guidance of Kristine Urschel, PhD. Specifically, for her dissertation, she looked at factors affecting equine skeletal muscle protein synthesis.

Also during her time at UK Wagner-Wells studied the effects of advanced age on horses’ whole-body protein synthesis and skeletal muscle mechanistic target of rapamycin signaling—a signaling pathway that, when activated, stimulates translation initiation of a protein and, ultimately, protein synthesis. She also examined the effect of gluteus medius muscle (which is located in the horse’s hind end and forms the swell or round of the croup) sample collection depth on postprandial (post-feeding) mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in mature Thoroughbred mares. Due to the fact that muscle fiber type changes with gluteal muscle depth, and the mTOR pathway has been shown to react to stimuli different in various fiber types, Wagner-Wells wanted to verify that sampling depth did not affect the signaling pathway. She found that although there were changes in the fiber types, there were no differences in the signaling pathway

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