BROOKINGS, S.D. — Julee Driver, a South Dakota State University Ph.D. graduate, was recently awarded the Single Laboratory Validation of the Year award by the Association of Official Analytical Chemists for her ground-breaking research on verifying amounts of antibiotics in livestock feed.

Ms. Driver worked to prove the statistical reliability of a new method used to measure amounts of neomycin, an antibiotic used to prevent and treat disease, found in animal feed products while pursuing her Ph.D. The two-year study was conducted at S.D.S.U. in one laboratory; analytical research as thorough as Ms. Driver’s often requires multiple facilities for testing and statistical verification, according to the university

"The field of animal feed is an area that has often been neglected in research," Ms. Driver said. "Originally, the importance of animal-feed quality was not well understood."

The necessity of maintaining accurate information on product labels was underlined by Ms. Driver’s work. Although labels may claim certain quantities of antibiotics or other ingredients found in animal feed, livestock owners have no means of verifying the amounts. Even a small error may be detrimental to animals.

Ms. Driver’s innovative research resulted in improved accuracy and precision over the current process for testing neomycin in animal feeds, a method that had seen little change since the 1960s.

Much of Ms. Driver’s inspiration stemmed from her time spent as a pharmaceutics analyst. She used principles learned from pharmaceutical research and applied them to her work in animal feed, an approach that ultimately yielded successful and beneficial results, while conducting her study.

"I am excited to be recognized for performing a thorough statistical study," Ms. Driver said. "It will be even more exciting if the method performs well in the collaborative study and can become an official A.O.A.C. method."

In July, Ms. Driver successfully defended her dissertation, earning her Ph.D. in chemistry from S.D.S.U. She currently works as a scientist for SGS, a seed-testing facility in Brookings, where she runs chemical and biosafety analyses.