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McCoy studying beefalo DNA for senior project

April 21, 2014

For her senior research project, Davielle McCoy is comparing the DNA profile of beefalo—a cross between buffalo and domestic cattle—to determine whether certain regions are more like one species or the other. McCoy is hypothesizing that beefalo are more akin to bovine, although she’s run into some troubleshooting issues with the DNA analysis in the lab.
McCoy’s family raises the hybrid on a farm in rural Missouri, and she’s been showing both beefalo and cattle since she was a child. Farmers have been crossing bison and domestic beef breeds since the 1960s because the result produces a superior animal that has the meat quality of bison and the ease of handling bovine cattle. It takes three generations to fully cross the animals, McCoy said.  
McCoy began collecting samples last semester and is currently wrapping up her project. She’s not sure whether she’ll be able to draw a firm conclusion before the semester is up—not uncommon for research projects with time limits.
McCoy came to Stephens primarily to play basketball but fell in love with the academic program.
“Basketball brought me here, but the biology department kept me here,” she said. “The faculty here help you do whatever you want to do. They do the best they can to get you to where you want to go.”

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