Editor’s Choice Pick: “Protein Concentrations in Cows’ Milk During the Four Stages of Lactation”

Read about one of JEI's first Editor's Choice winners, Madeleine Wilson. Madeleine is pictured below with her teacher and mentor for this project, Robin Vaughn.

We are excited to announce one of our first-ever Editor’s Choice picks at the Journal of Emerging Investigators.

Meet the Student Author
Madeleine Wilson a graduating senior from North Bay Haven Charter Academy in Panama City, Florida. She has always been passionate about scientific research, and enjoyed participating in science fairs in middle school. Madeleine’s favorite subjects in school are math and chemistry and she was inspired to pursue research outside of class after an experiment from her AP Chemistry class that used a spectrometer.

Outside of doing science (and schoolwork), Madeleine enjoys running, reading, sewing, hiking, and kayaking. She is grateful for the support from her family, mentor, Ms. Vaughn, high school principal, and the editors and reviewers at JEI.

Learn More About Madeleine’s Research
Madeleine was interested in answering the following question: How do protein levels change over a cow’s lactation cycle? She wanted to know not only if there was any change in total protein levels, but also if individual proteins changed in the same manner.

Inspired by her use of a spectroscopy in AP Chemistry, Madeleine created an experimental plan to use this same technique to measure total, casein, and whey protein in four different stages of a cow’s lactation cycle. Madeleine hypothesized that total protein would decrease as lactation progressed. This hypothesis was based on the idea that as a calf continues to grow they will require fewer nutrients from the cow’s milk as they start eating solid food.

Madeleine’s results supported her hypothesis as she saw that total protein levels decrease over time. In addition, Madeleine also saw that when casein and whey were looked at individually they behaved differently. Casein levels showed a decrease over time, but whey levels increased slightly. This is interesting to consider because whey protein contains alpha-lactalbumin which is involved in the creation of lactose. Therefore, Madeleine proposed knowing when the concentration of whey is highest in milk could be beneficial to individuals with lactose intolerance in decreasing symptom severity.

An important part of research is looking forward to the next step(s). In her manuscript, Madeleine proposes repeating these experiments with more cows. In using additional cows other factors such as breed or number of previous calves can also be looked at.

Please check out Madeleine’s full manuscript.

The material on this page was prepared by Kari Mattison, JEI Editor in Chief. Madeleine Wilson provided the photo and personal biography which was edited lightly for clarity.