Laxaviera Elphage

Laxaviera Elphage

Laxaviera Elphage

Home Institution
Tuskegee University

Year Participated

Year in School

REU Faculty Mentor
Ryan Dilger

Research Area Interest
Artificial Intelligence

Project Title
Does Proximity to a conspecific alter social behavioral patterns in artificially reared pigs?

Biography & Research Abstract


The aim of this study is to observe piglet cognitive behavior two days post-weaning in individual home-cages to identify the importance of socialization. Through examining their active, inactive, social and non-social behaviors either with or without a neighbor we seek to understand how proximity to neighboring pig influences behavioral patterns. In this experiment piglets are in pairs of individual home-cages, separated by plexiglass. This plexiglass allows the pigs to see, hear, smell but not come into physical contact with one another. There are six piglets paired in one stand, meaning there are three levels. I hypothesize that the piglets who never had a neighbor will redirect their behaviors by spending more time by drinking and feeding stations. Since these items are directly in the home cage, they can lay against them or directly on them and I believe by observing others social behaviors this will give them some form of comfort like laying against the barrier with a neighbor.  


I am a rising senior at Tuskegee University, Majoring in animal science. My aspirations in life are to become a veterinary neurologist. My drive to become a veterinarian came from giving myself three seconds to change the channel whenever I saw an ASPCA commercial, as a child. Learning about the human brain and participating in neurological internships interested me in studying the brain. I began to do research on veterinary neurology and decided then that becoming a veterinary neurologist was the career I wanted. My inquisitive and ambitious mentality has pushed me to want to learn more. My commitment to completing a project demonstrates my eagerness to take any challenge that approaches me.