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My Honours Project by Amy McLuckie

Applied Animal Science student and now SRUCSA Co-President Amy McLuckie focused her honours project on the effects of environmental enrichment on piglet behaviour. Amy was recently nominated for the first BSAS (British Society of Animal Science) Undergraduate Thesis of the Year award and made the longlist of twelve with her thesis being highly commended by the panel.

“My honours project was focused on investigating the effects that environmental enrichment has on piglet behaviourAmy M and the expression of genes involved with brain function.

(Title: Investigating the Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) Behaviour and Gene Expression)

It was through a three-day Research Skills course at the SRUC Biomarker’s Lab that I got in touch with one of my supervisors, who provided me with the samples and recorded footage from a previous study. I was supervised by Dr Sarah Brown at the University of Edinburgh and Dr Sarah Hall at SRUC.

I completed my lab work at the Biomarker’s Lab from September to January and Arianne Lowe, the manager of the lab, guided me through the various techniques I had to undertake to gather data on the gene expression. Gene expression in the cingulate cortex of the brain was measured by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and scan-sampling was the technique used for the behaviour analysis.

At the moment, I am taking a sabbatical year as the SRUCSA Co-President for the central faculty. In the long term I’d love to work in a lab as I thoroughly enjoyed the practical aspect of my degree and project. However, I’d also really like to continue my studies by either undertaking an MSc (but I’ve not decided in which field yet!) or by pursuing my original dream of veterinary medicine. The options feel limitless!”

Find out more about studying Applied Animal Science at SRUC, visit

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