Category: Graduate Students

Mackenzie Sharp examines a sample in the lab.

Life in the Lab

June 05, 2024 Written by Molly Schafer | Photos by Jeremy Wayman

University of Delaware alumna Mackenzie Sharp studies bacteria and the microbiome. After graduating from the UD's non-thesis M.S. in Animal Science in 2022, Sharp began working at the Wilmington International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) location. Sharp spends her days working with gut bacteria in an anaerobic chamber. As an associate scientist at IFF, she performs microbiology research for Next Gen Probiotics (NGP). 

“I work in a lab every day, which is very cool,” explained Sharp. “And not something that I particularly saw myself originally going into when I was an undergraduate, but I love this job so much.”


Mackenzie Sharp preps samples in the lab.


The non-thesis master’s in Animal Science with a concentration in Veterinary Biosciences, Biotechnology, and One Health (VBBOH) at the University of Delaware includes an individual research experience requirement. Sharp worked with Prof. Hong Li to perform research on chickens for her research experience.

For Sharp, it was a formative experience. 

“The University of Delaware got me into research, and I ended up really enjoying it. And I saw how it could benefit me in the future,” said Sharp. 

After completing the credit requirements, Sharp asked to stay on the project. 

”I was able to stay and was offered a part-time job,” Sharp noted.

Sharp says her UD research with Prof. Li helped prepare her for her current role. 

”In Prof. Li’s lab, we had weekly lab meetings, which is very similar to what I do now.” emphasized Sharp. “At the University of Delaware, "I presented every week and learned how to present data properly as a visual. That was very helpful and prepared me well for this job."  


Mackenzie Sharp examines a sample in an air-tight chamber.

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic amid shutdowns and hiring freezes, Sharp graduated with her UD undergraduate degree in pre-veterinary medicine. Sharp took stock of the situation and decided it was the right time for graduate school.

“It was bizarre to be graduating,” recalled Sharp. "I decided to apply for the non-thesis M.S. in Animal Science graduate program. I didn’t know what the next step would be for me if it wasn't vet school. I ended up loving the program and loving the research.” 

Sharp attests that the program set her apart and allowed her to excel in her career.

“I loved my time at the University of Delaware. I miss it a lot,” underscored Sharp. “As a UD student, you feel like you are a part of something bigger.”

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