Victoria Robbins

Mentor: Dr. Lori Warren
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"I decided to become involved in research to explore different paths I could take with my passion for veterinary medicine. Apart from a clinical setting, I wanted to gain exposure to the basis for understanding animal health through experimental study. I also wanted to learn different research methods and practical planning, as well as improve my skills in professional writing."


Wildlife Ecology and Conservation


African Studies

Research Interests

  • Equine Health
  • Wildlife Ecology
  • Epidemiology

Academic Awards

  • Dean's List Fall 2014
  • Dean's List Spring 2015
  • Jennings Scholarship 2015
  • University Scholars Program 2015-2016


  • Florida Quidditch, 2013-2015
  • Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society, 2014-2015
  • Equestrian Club 2013-2014


  • Assisting an Animal Sciences graduate student with research in equine nutrition
  • Volunteered at the Savanna Research Center in the Mbluluzi Game Reserve in Swaziland

Hobbies and Interests

  • Horseback Riding
  • Hiking
  • Reading science fiction and fantasy
  • Baking

Research Description

Effect of oat beta-glucan on postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses in horses
Oats are recognized as a “heart-healthy” grain. The beta-glucan in oats has been linked to health benefits in humans, including lowered cholesterol and lower glucose and insulin following a meal. Although oats are a traditional cereal grain in equine rations, the health benefits of beta-glucan have not been investigated in horses. I hypothesize that horses fed a ration rich in oat beta-glucan will exhibit lower glucose and insulin than those fed a corn-based diet. Eight mature Quarter Horses will be used in a 4 X 4 Latin square design study to determine the effects of oat-beta glucan on serum cholesterol and postprandial glucose and insulin responses. Horses will be fed 4 diets that differ in the amount and source of oat beta-glucan: cracked corn (low beta-glucan control), regular feed oats (moderate beta-glucan), a high beta-glucan oat variety (high beta-glucan), or corn top-dressed with a concentrated oat beta-glucan powder (high beta-glucan). Both of the high beta-glucan diets will provide 170 mg beta-glucan/kg body weight per day, which is a level shown to positively impact human health. All diets will have the same digestible energy content. The daily ration will be split into two equal-sized feedings. Horses will also have free access to pasture forage and a pelleted vitamin/mineral supplement will be included with the grain portion of the ration. In each of the 4 study periods, 2 horses will be fed each of the 4 diets. Each period will consist of 22 days of feeding treatment diets and collecting data, followed by 13 days of dietary washout (horses will receive the corn control diet during washout). At the completion of each period, dietary treatments will be switched and another cycle of data collection will begin. Using this Latin square design, all horses will receive all diets, allowing them to serve as their own biological control. In each period, venous blood samples will be obtained on day 0 (before treatment diets begin) and on day 21 for determination of serum total cholesterol. On day 21, the horses’ glucose and insulin responses to their treatment diet will be evaluated (“meal test”). Horses will be fasted for 8 hours, and then an amount of their treatment diet that will provide 0.8 grams of nonstructural carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight will be offered. The time to eat the meal will be recorded and blood samples will be obtained before and at several intervals for 4 hours after the meal for plasma glucose and serum insulin concentrations. On day 22, the horses’ glucose and insulin response to an oral dose corn syrup will be evaluated (“sugar test”). After an 8-hour fast, a dose of 0.15 mL/kg body weight of corn syrup will be administered using an oral dosing syringe. Venous blood samples will be obtained before the syrup is given and at several intervals for 2 hours after the syrup dosing and plasma glucose and serum insulin concentrations will be determined. For both the meal test and the sugar test, I expect to capture the rise in plasma glucose and serum insulin in response to the meal/syrup, as well as see these concentrations return to pre-feeding (resting) levels. This will allow me to determine if the overall responses to the meal/syrup were modified in horses receiving the high beta-glucan diets. Additionally, comparison of the high beta-glucan oat diet to the corn + beta-glucan powder diet will reveal whether the effects are due to the beta-glucan or to something else within the intact oat.