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Summer 2018 Animal Sciences Newsletter
Faculty Spotlight

A team (Dairy Focus Team) of 10 to 14 graduate and undergraduate students visited Illinois dairies on weekend excursions. Twenty herds had volunteered to participate in the program. Each shared management data via their recordkeeping software prior to the visits. On the day of the visits, Cardoso interviewed the owner/producers while his army of students combed the dairies. In addition to general facility inspections, they observed animal behavior and conducted a battery of tests, including forage analysis; bedding-content measurements; air-quality evaluations; manure scores; body condition scores; and feed intake.  After returning to the university, the team gathered and collaborated on conclusions based on herd data, lab results and visual appraisals. Each farm received a personal report and specific suggestions for improvement. After all 20 dairies were evaluated, they also were sent a benchmarking data report showing where their herd fell among the other 19 operations evaluated. All herds were anonymous, and data was broken out geographically by North, Central and Southern tiers of the state.

Dr. Phil Cardoso's work in dairy extension is highlighted HERE.

Imported Swine Research Laboratory Visit

University of Illinois Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Dr. Susan Martinis toured the Imported Swine Research Laboratory and discussed the research supported by this facility with University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences Department Head Dr. Rod Johnson. 

Lactation Biology MOOC's One Year Anniversary

The Lactation Biology MOOC (Massive Open, Online Course) offered through Coursera marked its one-year anniversary having reached over 1000 active learners. This course was developed by Dr. Walt Hurley, professor emeritus, and includes over 170 lesson videos, as well as study aids, quizzes and assignments. The course provides online access to a broad range of topics related to lactation and mammary gland biology at no cost to the student. Want to learn more? Visit!

Judging Teams Updates
All East Invitational Results

The University of Illinois Livestock Judging Team cleaned house at the All-East Invitational Judging Contest in Versailles, Kentucky, last week. The team competed in three days of contests, including evaluation, selection, and judging. As a team, they won the combined, 3-day contest by a commanding margin of 586 points taking home the high team award in all three categories of sheep, swine and cattle. Individually in the overall contest, Kaylie Huizenga was 1st; Maggie Sweppy, 2nd; Cody Hadden, 4th; Megan Myerscough, 5th; and Jason Bedwell, 6th. Team members include Huizenga, Sweppy, Hadden, Myerscough, Bedwell, and Cara Thiems. The team is coached by Parker Henley and Jack Oattes, beef nutrition graduate students in the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences.

Meat Animal Evaluation Results

The University of Illinois Meat Animal Evaluation Team recently travelled to Lubbock, TX to compete at the National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest. The team was named 5th High Team Overall in a field of 14 teams after an intense three day contest with 4 divisions - Market, Breeding, Communications, and Meats. The team was named 5th in the Breeding Division, Meats, Overall Beef, Overall Swine, Overall Sheep, and Communications. Individual highlights include Maggie Sweppy’s 8th place finish in the breeding division of the contest. Team members include Jason Bedwell, Katelyn Gaffield, Cody Hadden, Kaylie Huizenga, Megan Myerscough, Emily Schunke, Maggie Sweppy, Cara Thiems and is coached by Dr. Dan Shike, Parker Henley, Jack Oattes, and Brandon Klehm.

Graduate Student Association Updates

The GSA officers hope you had a wonderful semester and a good start to your Summer. Our 2nd Annual GSA Potluck had a great turn out and even greater food, thank you to all of those that could make it! We will begin planning for the Fall this August so keep a look out for upcoming events and speakers! 

Undergraduate Stories of Interest
I Love ACES Week

I Love ACES week was held April 9-13.  We featured sevearl undergraduates who shared their love of ACES and Animal Sciences.  Here are a few of their stories:



Taylor Musgrave, a senior in Animal Sciences, loves ACES because "it makes me feel at home. The close-knit, family type atmosphere is hard to beat! I came to U of I from a small town not knowing anyone in Champaign-Urbana and the College of ACES and the Department of Animal Sciences gave me so many opportunities to jump into activities and become part of this campus community and make lifelong friends!"


Mario, a senior in Animal Sciences, has so much love for ACES! "The College of ACES has defined my university experience and has burrowed itself in a special place in my heart. From learning about the importance of animal health and food security from faculty who have a passion for agriculture to creating outstanding memories and friendships that will outlast graduation, these past four years have been unforgettable. The Department of Animal Science is filled with amazing faculty who constantly root for your excellence, advise you in your troubles, and help you in any possible way they can. This candid care and importance the Department of Animal Science exhibits makes all the hard work and late-study nights worthwhile."


Hassna Khadour, senior in Animal Sciences, loves the College of ACES "because of all the amazing opportunities that have been presented to me, the hands on classes/experiences and the amazing small community. The college of ACES has opened so doors for me from studying abroad to doing the research I love. You learn something new everyday in ACES and have the opportunity to do what you love. I am starting my Master’s Degree in Animal Sciences this August. I love Animal Sciences so much I wanted to stay!"

Animal Sciences Undergraduate Scholarship Reception

In April, we honored several undergraduates with Animal Sciences scholarships and recognized collegiate and 4-H judging teams.  You can find pictures from the reception on the Animal Sciences Facebook Page.  Congratulations to all of our recipients and a huge thank you to our fabulous donors who make these scholarships available to our students!

Mario A. Barenas, Paul E. & Rose A. Woodson Scholarship 
Erin E. Bryan, Sleeter Bull Undergraduate Meats Scholarship   
Nicole J. Chance, D. E. Becker Swine Industry Scholarship  
Ashley E. Cooney, D. E. Becker Swine Industry Scholarship  
Samantha D. Crist, Paul E. & Rose A. Woodson Scholarship 
Erin H. Fisher, Gary O. Wright
Erin H. Fisher, Mary Gillespie Wright Animal Sciences Scholarship   
Katelyn N. Gaffield, Richard J. and M. Joan Epley Scholarship       
Katelyn N. Gaffield, Richard and Charlotte Lundgren Scholarship       
Haley M. Haverback, Merle E. LeSage Scholarship       
Haley M. Haverback, Waco W. Albert Meat Animal Evaluation Scholarship      
Kaylie A. Huizenga, Richard and Charlotte Lundgren Scholarship       
Caseelynn A. Johnston, Waco W. Albert Meat Animal Evaluation Scholarship       
Madison J. Kapraun, Paul E. & Rose A. Woodson Scholarship 
Julie M. Klein, Dr. and Mrs. M. E. Ensminger Scholarship             
Taylor N. Musgrave, Illinois Association of Meat Processors Scholarship           
Megan E. Myerscough, A. L. Neumann Transfer Student Scholarship       
Laura C. Olander, Janet R. Jackson and Mark A. Roos Scholarship
Laura C. Olander, Dr. J. Wayne Rehn and Mrs. F. Jean Rehn Scholarship      
Kayla N. Peterson, Phil Rincker Award         
Gracia L. Ramp, D. E. Becker Swine Industry Scholarship
Gracia L. Ramp, Waco W. Albert Meat Animal Evaluation Scholarship      
Margaret Richards, Paul E. & Rose A. Woodson Scholarship 
Kendi E. Sayre, Alex Edgar Beef Production Scholarship
Kendi E. Sayre, Richard and Charlotte Lundgren Scholarship       
Sierra R. Schreiber, Paul E. & Rose A. Woodson Scholarship 
Emily D. Schnunke, Bankson Judging Team Scholarship          
Cheyenne S. Summers, Waco W. Albert Memorial Equine Scholarship    
Frederick P. Yang, Illinois Association of Meat Processors Scholarship           
Luke A. Zimmerman, D. E. Becker Swine Industry Scholarship 

Luke Zimmerman Awarded 2018 Center of Excellent Scholarship

Luke Zimmerman, senior in Animal Sciences, was awarded a 2018 Center of Excellence scholarship from the Midwest Poultry Consortium! This summer program focuses on strong, research-based poultry science education. Here he is participating in the consortium last summer. Congratulations, Luke!

Graduate Student Recognition
Meat Science Scholarships
 Dustin Boler, Martin Overholt, Lauren Honegger, and Anna Dilger

Lauren Honegger received the 2018 Floyd McKeith Meat Science Scholarship and Martin Overholt received the 2018 Sleeter Bull Graduate Meats Scholarship.

Dr. Floyd McKeith, University of Illinois professor emeritus, is one of the world’s most influential scientists in the field of meat science. He served as a faculty member in the Department of Animal Sciences from 1981 until 2014. During that time, he advised scores of graduate students. Upon his retirement, he asked that any contributions to the department be “given to the students”. Therefore, the Meat Science Scholarship was established in his honor. 

The Sleeter Bull Meats Award was established in 1975 and is named for Dr. Sleeter Bull, a meat science professor at the University of Illinois from 1911-1956. Professor Bull served as the coach of the University Meats Judging Team, performed research in meat tenderness and color, and was involved in some of the first research in meat freezing. He is considered the father of the Meat Science program here at the University and was a recognized authority in meat processing. 

David H. and Norraine A. Baker Fellowship

Rebecca Winters from Dr. Miller's lab has received the 2018 David H. and Norraine A. Baker Fellowship. The David H and Norraine A. Baker Graduate Fellowship in Animal Sciences is made possible by a $150,000 endowment established in 2001 by David and Norraine Baker.  David H. Baker was a graduate student in the Department from 1961 to 1965, was a faculty member of the Department from 1967 until 1999, and remained active in research well beyond his official retirement. He was a world-renowned comparative nutritionist who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005.  The recipient must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the Department of Animal Sciences. 

Mitchell Fellowship in Animal Nutrition
 Charmaine Espinoza and Hans Stein

Charmaine Espinosa from Dr. Stein's lab is the recipient of the 2018 Mitchell Graduate Student Fellowship.  The Mitchell Fellowship in Animal Nutrition recognizes excellent graduate students who are specializing in animal nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences. Funds for this fellowship were provided as a gift by Marguerite E. Mitchell to the University of Illinois in memory of her parents, Harold Hanson and Ethel Opal Mitchell. Dr. Harold Hanson Mitchell was a world-renowned animal nutritionist in the Department of Animal Science. 

Clark Graduate Fellowship
 Jimmy Clark & Danielle Coleman

Danielle Coleman (Dr. Loor’s lab) is the recipient of the 2018 Clark graduate fellowship.  Jimmy H. Clark was a faculty member of the Department from 1968 until 2003 and remained active in research and teaching well beyond his official retirement. He is a world-renowned dairy cattle nutritionist who made significant contributions to dairy cattle nutrition in the areas of nitrogen metabolism; protein, amino acid, carbohydrate, and lipid nutrition; the use of bovine somatotropin; and the feeding and safety of biotech crops. He received numerous awards for his contributions. The Department of Animal Sciences received gifts in support of Dr. Jimmy H. Clark’s research enabling the Jimmy H. and Karen K. Clark Graduate Fellowship in Applied Dairy Cattle Nutrition. 

Nesheim Graduate Fellowship Recipients

Reilly Pierce is the recipient of a Nesheim graduate fellowship.  Reilly is joining Dr. Drackley’s lab.

Reilly joins our Nesheim fellows:  Meredith Carroll (Dr. Swanson’s lab) and Maci Oeschlager (Dr. Digler’s lab); our JBT fellows: Sara Knollinger (Dr. Cardoso’s lab), Molly McGhee (Dr. Stein's lab), Katherine Vande Pol (Dr. Ellis’ lab), Emi Tucker (Dr. Nowak’s lab); and our Clark fellow: Maegan Weatherly (Dr. Cardoso’s lab).

Graduate Student International Research Grant

Martin Overholt has been selected as the recipient of the ACES Graduate Student International Research Grant.  Martin's proposal is titled "Determination of sources variability in pork quality in the Dutch swine production system."  Best wishes to Martin in his international research. 

Wilson G Pond International Travel Award from ASAS

Fernanda Batistel (Juan Loor’s Lab) and Su A Lee from my Lab both won a Wilson G Pond International Travel Award from ASAS – they will get these awards at the ASAS National Annual Meeting in Vancouver in July. Each award comes with a cash price of $2,500.

Fernanda will use her award to travel to Clermont-Ferrand, France, to participate in the 10th International Symposium on the Nutrition of Herbivores and Su A Lee will use her award to travel to Brisbane, Australia, to participate in the 14th International Symposium on Digestive Physiology of Pigs.

Fernanda Batistel

Fernanda Batistel, a student working with Professor Loor, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on "Effect of rumen-protected methionine on placenta metabolism, animal performance, and immune-metabolism of dairy cows during the periparturient and early lactation periods".

We wish Fernanda success in her assistant professor position at the Department of Animal, Dairy & Veterinary Sciences, Utah State University.

Kristen Glosson

Kristen Glosson, a student working with Professor Drackley, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on "Investigating the effect of yeast and mineral dietary supplements during the periparturient period on the production, physical health, and innate immune system of dairy cows ".

We wish Kristen success in her position as Dairy Tech Associate at Phibro Animal Health in the NY area. Drs. Glosson and Drackley have a productive research collaboration with Phibro.

Bailey Harsh

Bailey Harsh, a student working with Professor Boler, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on "Effects of ractopamine hydrochloride on nutrient digestibility, environmental N excretion, regulation of skeletal muscle growth, and beta-receptor subtypes in finishing beef steers".

We wish Bailey success in her assistant professor position at the Department of Animal  Sciences, University of Florida Gainesville.

Brandon Klehm

Brandon Klehm, a student working with Professor Boler, successfully defended his M.S. thesis "Characterizing the relationship between early postmortem loin quality attributes and 14 day aged loin quality attributes and sensory characteristics".

We wish Brandon success in his position as instructor in Animal Sciences,  coaching the meats and animal evaluation judging team, and performing extension activities.

Catherine Lawrence

Catherine Lawrence, a student working with Professor Nowak, successfully defended her M.S. thesis "The effects of di (2-thylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) on lesion development in a mouse model of endometriosis".

Sarah Morrison

Sarah Morrison, a student working with Professor Drackley, successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis entitled "Influences of milk intake and dietary inclusion of a bioactive extract from the olive (Olea europaea) on glucagon-like peptide-2 and its effects on growth and intestinal health of dairy calves".

We wish Sarah success in her position as research scientist at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY.

Sean Mythen

Sean Mythen, a student working with Professor Ridlon, successfully defended his M.S. thesis "Characterization of enzymatic pathways involved in cortisol and bile acid metabolism by the gut microbiota ".

We wish Sean success in his post-graduation career.

Maci Oelschlager

Maci Oelschlager, a student working with Professor Ryan Dilger, successfully defended her M.S. thesis "Dietary saponins and immune activation by Eimeria species in broilers".

We wish Maci success in her Ph.D. studies with Dr. Dilger.

Martin Overholt

Martin Overholt, a student working with Professor Anna Dilger, successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on "Feeding peroxidized soybean oil to finishing pigs: effects on performance, nutrient digestibility, carcass characteristics, and the shelf-life of loin chops and commercially manufactured bacon".

We wish Martin success in his position at Seaboard-Triumph Foods, Sioux City, IA.

Rachel Schmitt

Rachel Schmitt, a student working with Professor Ellis, successfully defended her M.S. thesis entitled "The effects of zinc source and supplemental copper on growth performance, carcass characteristics, and morbidity and mortality of growing-finishing pigs raised under commercial conditions ".

We wish Rachel success while looking for employment opportunities.

Weinan Zhou

Weinan Zhou, a student working with Professor Dailey, successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on "Nutrient-induced intestinal epithelial stem cell proliferation and its effect in obesity".

We wish Weinan success in his postdoctoral position with Dr. Sayee Anakk at the Department of  Molecular and Integrative Physiology, U of I.

Norman Cousins Award

Rodney W. Johnson, Professor of Integrative Immunology and Behavior and Head of the Department of Animal Sciences, has been selected to receive the international Norman Cousins Award. This is the highest honor given by the PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society ( to an individual for outstanding contributions to research in psychoneuroimmunology. His award lecture, which is the highlight of the annual meeting, will be delivered on June 7 at Miami Beach. Dr. Johnson’s internationally recognized research in immunophysiology and behavior has improved the health and well-being of humans and domestic animals alike. He is among a very small group of international scientists who has the range of expertise extending from immunology to neurobiology and from molecular to integrative systems biology and nutrition. His research involves rodents and neonatal piglets, but is designed in a translational manner so results from either species are broadly applicable to both animal agriculture and biomedicine. Dr. Johnson is one of only a few individuals worldwide conducting biomedical research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a large domestic animal species. Consequently, the significance of his research is magnified because the results are applicable to both animal agriculture and biomedicine. As tangible proof for the broad appeal of his research and for its enthusiastic acceptance by the scientific community, Dr. Johnson has presented invited lectures all over the world and been recognized with major awards from four different professional societies. He has authored more than 138 peer-reviewed papers. He has been principal investigator on extramural grants totaling in excess of $13 million, having received uninterrupted funding from the highly competitive NIH since 1996. The broad underlying theme of his research addresses how the immune system affects brain development and aging. Dr. Johnson has provided outstanding sustained service to PNIRS and continues to excel in all aspects of research, from successfully acquiring competitive research grants, designing and conducting research projects, and publishing the results in highly-regarded, peer-reviewed journals. He continues to search for ways to promote, protect, and maintain brain health by studying communication pathways between the immune system and the brain.

2018 AFIA Ruminant Nutrition Award

Dr. Juan Loor is the 2018 recipient of the American Feed Industry Association Ruminant Nutrition Award.  This award is given to faculty who stimulate research excellence in the nutrition of ruminant animals.  Congratulations Dr. Loor. 

JDS Club 100

Dr. Juan Loor has been inducted into JDS Club 100.  As part of the 100th volume of the Journal of Dairy Science (JDS), individuals who have authored or co-authored 100 or more papers in the journal join this prestigious group.  JDS is one of the leading dairy research journals worldwide. 

Dr. Vickie Jarrell is elected to the Council of Accreditation of AAALAC International

Dr. Vickie Jarrell was recently elected to the Council on Accreditation of AAALAC International.  The Urbana campus animal care and use program has been fully accredited with AAALAC International since 2002.  Her term on council begins July 1, 2018 and continues to June 30, 2021. 

2018 Mahr Endowed Lecturer for the Iowa State Universoty for One Health

Dr. Lawrence Schook was selected as the 2018 Mahr Endowed Lecturer for the Iowa State University for One Health.  His selection was based on the creation of the UI Oncopig model for human cancer.  His lecture was entitled "The Oncopig Cancer Model (OCM):  A Platform for Transitional, Translational and Transformative Advances in Cancer Research."

Watch recording HERE:

Dr. Hans Stein wins Cromwell Award

Dr. Hans Stein has been selected as the 2018 winner of the Cromwell Award.  Dr. Stein will be presented this award on July 9th at the 2018 ASAS annual meeting in Vancouver, BC.

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