Being able to make a difference in the lives of dogs and cats is why Julie Spears, an animal sciences graduate, likes working as a research nutritionist for Nestle Purina.
“We are a global leader in pet nutrition research, and our efforts have truly improved the health of pets,” Julie says. “My research group has helped with innovations in weight management, digestive health, healthy early development, aging, and oral health.”
Working for a company that really loves their pets is another highlight of her job.
“We can bring our pets to work with us,” Julie says. “My puppy, Finlay, loves the dog park that we have on campus. Safi, my German shepherd, was featured in print and TV ads for Pro Plan, and my cat, Elsa, has been in videos on our website.”
Over the course of Julie’s career, she has had to develop great organization skills, a drive for creativity, and the will to proactively cooperate with her colleagues. These skills, coupled with her education at the University of Illinois, have brought her success.
“The nutrition program at Illinois is very well respected, and I learned so much from my time there,” Julie says. “In addition to nutrition, my advisor, George Fahey, taught me to think critically and interpret results accurately. I also learned a great deal about communication. The animal sciences graduate program emphasized giving effective presentations. Thanks to that program, I can speak to different audiences without feeling nervous. Scientific writing was also stressed, and I had several publications in peer-reviewed journals before I left Illinois.”
When she started college, Julie was clueless about what she wanted to study, and she had no idea what graduate school was. Over the course of 10 years at the U of I, Julie is most proud of evolving from a confused undergraduate to a woman having found her life’s purpose in companion animal nutrition.