AnSci Connection - April 2017

Notes from the Department Head

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

Animal Biotechnology (ANSC 3509) is a course for undergraduates seeking a broad understanding of animal biotechnology in a single semester. Lecture topics include: genes and genomes, recombinant DNA technology, proteins as products, DNA fingerprinting and forensic analysis, bioremediation, aquatic biotechnology, medical biotechnology, and bioethics as it pertains to biotechnology.

This course will focus on several themes in Animal Biotechnology. The topics in the course have been chosen to build a strong foundation for understanding and appreciating innovations in several areas of biotechnology. Whether you have career goals in animal science, veterinary medicine, graduate school or would just like to improve your scientific literacy in animal biotechnology to more fully participate in public debate about issues that confront society, the concepts covered in this course are a good place to begin.

The laboratory component of the course will focus on teaching molecular techniques necessary to gather DNA profiling data on scarlet macaws in southwest Belize for the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program. The lab will use DNA isolated from blood and feathers gathered at scarlet macaw nesting sites and housing facilities in the area. Sequence analysis of DNA will be used to determine parentage and to study population dynamics.

The Scarlet Macaw Protection Program is a conservation initiative between the Wildlife Institute (WI), the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic (BWRC) and Friends for Conservation & Development (FCD). The purpose of the Scarlet Macaw Protection Program is to support a specific scarlet macaw population in the Chiquibul Forest, which is under heavy poaching threat. The conservation strategy is to remove chicks from nest sites that are under heaviest threat of poaching, and for which security provision is most prohibitive. Chicks are reared with the aim to be reintroduced into the wild.

The Scarlet Macaw Project was featured in the latest spring issue of Audubon Magazine! Read more here:

Below are course details. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to our faculty that will be leading the course, Dr. Melissa Palmer ( or Dr. Christopher Faulk (

ANSC 3509: Animal Biotechnology with Laboratory
4 Credit Course
Course Number: 36079
No Prerequisites!
Fulfills the Following LE Requirements:
• Technology and Society Theme
• Biological Sciences Core
Lecture: MWF: 12:50 – 1:40 pm
Laboratory: Tuesdays 10:40 am and 3 pm

In February Dr. Shurson visited Escola Superior De Agricultura Luiz De Queiroz (ESALQ), or the “School of Agriculture” at the University of Sao Paulo. He discussed research collaborations taking place with poultry nutritionist Professor Jose Menten and swine nutritionist Professor Urbano Ruiz. The research involves the nutritional evaluation of new corn co-products that will be produced for poultry and swine by a new FS Bioenergia ethanol plant located in Mato Grosso (Lucas do Rio Verde). Below is a TV interview of Dr. Shurson at the FS Bioenergia conference in Mato Grosso Brazil.

In March Dr. Shurson traveled to Thailand and spoke about distiller’s dried grains with solubles at the U.S. Grains Council’s organized seminar held in Southeast Asia. The conference provided context, industry insights, and actionable market intelligence to customers of U.S. agricultural commodities. Read more about it here.


Dr. Shurson at the VIV trade show and conference in Bangkok, Thailand with two of his former Ph.D. students Dr. Zhimin (Belinda) Huang and Dr. Guowu Xu.

Earlier this week Dr. Shurson attended a DDGS conference organized by the U.S. Grain Council in South Korea where he spoke about the nutritional and economic values of U.S. DDGS. Read more about it here.

In mid-March Diane DeWitte joined the UM Extension Livestock team as an Educator specializing in swine, located at the Mankato Regional Extension office.  DeWitte will work with current swine educator Sarah Schieck to provide programming for pork producers across Minnesota.

DeWitte previously served nine years as the U of M Extension ag educator in Le Sueur and Blue Earth Counties where she provided livestock & crops education and managed the Master Gardener programs.  She is part of the Minnesota Pork Quality Assurance (PQA+) training team, and is a familiar face teaching PQA+ and TQA certifications to swine producers. 

A Wabash, Indiana native from a crop and livestock farm, DeWitte earned her B.S. in Animal Sciences and M.S. in Vocational Education from Purdue University.  Her previous roles include management of a 1000-sow commercial swine herd in central Indiana, and service with Purdue Extension in Vigo County, Indiana. 

DeWitte lives with her husband Brad in Le Sueur County and enjoys quilt-making in winter months and long-distance motorcycle travel in the other three seasons.  

News and Announcements

More than 100 faculty, students, and fans of CFANS Animal Science attended the first "Connecting with U—Animal Science Showcase," April 11 in the St. Paul Campus Cargill Building. Accomplishments by faculty, students, and alumni were celebrated during the program, highlighted by the presentation of the Golden Alumni Award to University of Kentucky Professor Merlin Lindemann, B.S. '77 and Ph.D. '81 (pictured from left with CFANS Professor of Animal Science Jerry Shurson). Lindemann grew up on a diversified farm near Worthington, MN, the first of his family to go to college. An inspiring mentor and educator, his vision led to showing the essentiality of chromium to nutrition and revealing nutrition impacts on the environment. His role as a leader in animal science is demonstrated at the national and international level by publication in hundreds of respected publications, an in-demand speaker, work with more than 55 government, commodity, and multi-national entities; participation in several review panels; as steering committee member of Digestive Physiology in Pigs; and as technical expert for the American Soybean Association. The showcase also featured posters highlighting faculty and graduate student research and undergraduate organizations and activites. The event connected participants to the program even down to the lunch, which featured foods catered by the Meat Science team.

Animal Science graduate student Marta Ferrandis Vila presented her research to the Experimental Biology 2017 held in Chicago, IL, April 22-26, 2017. Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of over 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing six sponsoring societies: The American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET). This multidisciplinary, scientific meeting features plenary and award lectures, pre-meeting workshops, oral and posters sessions as well as on-site career services. General fields of study include anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology, nutrition, pharmacology, and physiology among others.

Marta's poster entitled "Cytokine profile in ileal and colonic tissue of pigs is modulated by different fiber sources with and without multi-carbohydrase enzyme supplementation" will be presented at the "APS Effects of diet and metabolites on mucosal immunology" session. In addition, she will be competing for the APS Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology Section Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Poster Award, an award designed to recognize predoctoral (undergraduate or graduate) and postdoctoral trainees who are engaged in gastrointestinal and liver research. 

Dr. Milena Saqui-Salces serves as Marta's advisor and will be attending the conference as well.

The Midwest Poultry Consortium is pleased to award 2017 Center of Excellence (COE) scholarships to University of Minnesota students Elizabeth Theis and Mariah Huberty.

The scholarship will allow these students to take poultry focused classes during the 2017 summer, credits transfer back to University of Minnesota. They will also complete paid poultry internships afterwards so that they have the opportunity to practice the skills they learn in their classes.

Elizabeth is completing a second summer of COE classes this year and earning a Poultry Science emphasis. Tied to the 2016 COE classes, Elizabeth completed an internship with GNP in St. Cloud.  She currently works in the UM Poultry Nutrition Laboratory and is a member of the UM Gopher Poultry Science Club.

Mariah will be starting her COE experience this year.  She ran a small poultry business, Lofty Dreams Poultry, from her home. She currently works in the UM Poultry Nutrition Laboratory.

Congratulations to these students.

The Nelson Scholarship is named in honor of Pete Nelson, who served the University of Minnesota as the Supervisor of Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science from 2007 to 2013. In honor of Pete Nelson, the Minnesota Association of Meat Processors offers two scholarships to students currently enrolled as either an undergraduate or graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Animal Science or the Department of Food Science and Nutrition. Recipients of the scholarship were announced at the 2017 MAMP Annual Convention in St. Cloud, and Department of Animal Science graduate student Jordan Juckel was awarded the Nelson Scholarship.

Jordan began college in September of 2014 hoping to pursue vet school as she worked at the dairy barn on campus. She came in with 34 credits from high school, and decided to take 20 credits each semester and graduate a year and a half early. On top of 20 credit semesters, she worked 3 part-time jobs and was involved in extracurricular activities on campus. Jordan was involved in Gopher Dairy club, Block and Bridle, and the Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team.

During the summer of 2016 Jordan worked as the meat processing intern at the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science. Shortly before graduation, with a 3.7 GPA, she decided to pursue graduate school in meat science. After graduate school, Jordan hopes to pursue a career in food safety, education, or research and development.

On Monday, April 24th, 2017, the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science, on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota, hosted the FFA State Meats Evaluation CDE. Students from throughout Minnesota participated in the contest which included beef yield and quality grading, retail cut identification and five placing classes of carcasses, wholesale and retail cuts from beef and pork. Dr. Ryan Cox, who served as contest faculty chair would like to thank everyone involved for their tremendous contributions and support, including Jordan Juckel, University of Minnesota Meat Science (Official Committee), and Tristan McNamara and Dallas Dornink (Product Chairs). The group looks forward to successful contests such as this for many years to come.

The Block and Bridle & Gopher Poultry Science Club Recognition Banquet was held April 22, 2017 in the North Star Ballroom.  Dr. Bill Dayton gave departmental highlights from the past year.  Karin Schaefer, Executive Director of the Minnesota Beef Council, was the featured speaker and challenged the students to aspire to greater achievements. Special thanks to Cargill, Inc. for sponsorship of our banquet.

The following are photos from recognitions of the evening (Not pictured: Dr. Anup Johnny, co-adviser for the Poultry Science Club presented Rachel Kircher with a plaque for Outstanding Poultry Science Club member.):

The Animal Science Academic Quadrathlon team was recognized for their first place finish at the regional AQ competition in the oral presentation. Members from left to right were Audrey Laine, Brandon Hanson, Johanna Knorr, and Dan Hayes.

The General Livestock Judging Team competed well this spring and is gearing up for competitions this fall. Pictured from left to right: Kyle Rozeboom (coach), Rachel Engel, Josef Pettit, Emma Penzenstadler, Scott Dingels, Paige Netzke, Fred Mansfield, Maggie Larson, , Greg Harder (associate coach), and Mindy Rinkel.

The Outstanding Service Award was presented by Block and Bridle president Rachel Engels to Brad Rugg, State 4-H Livestock Coordinator. Brad has supported many of the Block and Bridle events over the years and employed many B & B members in the state 4-H office on campus

Kyle Rozeboom was presented with the Outstanding Faculty Award by Block and Bridle president Rachel Engels. Kyle teaches Livestock and Carcass Evaluation, Food Animal Products for Consumers, Livestock Merchandising, Pork Production Systems Management, Beef and Sheep sections of Introductory Animal Science, and Livestock Judging. He also manages the sheep and swine units on campus and coaches the livestock judging team.

Greg Harder presented Kent Thiesse with the Outstanding Alumni Award. Kent graduated from the University of Minnesota of Minnesota in 1975. He has served the agriculture industry in Minnesota in many different capacities over the years. He has been the overall chair of the 4-H Beef Committee for 26 years and has served on the Minnesota Beef Expo committee since the beginning. He was named the University of Minnesota Extension Educator of the Year in 1987.

Freshman, Abby Penzenstadler, was presented the Block & Bridle scholarship. In addition to maintaining a high grade point average, Abby has participated in numerous B & B activities throughout the year.

Jennifer Fidler received the outstanding B & B Rookie Award. Of special note, Jenny coordinated the clubs trip to the National Block and Bridle Convention held April 1 -3 in Washington DC.

Thomas Duff received the award for Outstanding Block and Bridle Senior. Thomas served as both Treasurer and Vice-president of the B & B club and has chaired several committees.

Five animal science students that have served as Teaching Assistants in Animal Science courses were honored for their outstanding service to the Animal Science Department. Left to right they are: Kimberly Gustafson, Josef Pettit, Alexia Riley, Scott Dingels, and Paige Netzke.

Undergraduate students – 230 in total – from 37 colleges across North America traveled to Visalia, California for the 16th annual Dairy Challenge® (NAIDC) held March 30 to April 1. Seven dairy farms participated in the educational event. Dairy students worked to improve their dairy management and communication skills, networked with other students, and explored industry careers. Dairy Challenge is a unique, real-world experience where dairy students work as a team and apply their college coursework to evaluate and provide practical solutions for an operating dairy farm. In Visalia, two programs ran concurrently – the 16th national Dairy Challenge contest and the fifth annual Dairy Challenge Academy. The events were coordinated by the NAIDC Board of Directors and the western planning committee.


This year’s national contest included 34 universities, whose four-person teams competed for awards based on their quality of teams’ farm analysis and appropriate solutions. Their farm presentations were evaluated by a panel of five judges, including dairy producers, veterinarians, finance specialists and seasoned agribusiness personnel. The University of Minnesota’s national contest team included Johanna Knorr (Pelican Rapids), Andrew Krause (Buffalo), Fred Mansfield (Kerkhoven), and Lance Sexton (Millville). Dr. Marcia Endres coached the team. The team earned a First Place award with high overall scores. Judges were very impressed by the team’s assessment and presentation. The dairy producer also attended the presentation and told the team that their recommendations were really practical. “It was an outstanding performance by the team, I was very proud”, said Endres.


The Academy provided interactive training for nearly 90 students from four-year universities or two-year dairy programs. Academy participants were divided into smaller groups including students from various schools, and dairy industry volunteers worked as Advisors to coach these less-experienced Academy participants as they assessed the dairy and developed recommendations. The University of Minnesota students participating in the Academy were Ethan Dado, Trent Dado, Maddie Lindahl, and Austin Schmitt.


“Dairy Challenge is a tremendous collaboration between universities, dairy producers and agribusinesses – all working together toward a common mission to help develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and continually improve the dairy industry,” said Amy te Plate-Church of Look East PR and NAIDC board chair.


About Dairy Challenge

NAIDC is an innovative event for students in dairy programs at North American post-secondary institutions. Its mission is to develop tomorrow’s dairy leaders and enhance progress of the dairy industry, by providing education, communication and networking among students, producers, and agribusiness and university personnel. Over its 16-year national history, Dairy Challenge has helped prepare more than 5,000 students for careers as farm owners and managers, consultants, researchers, veterinarians or other dairy professionals. The next national event will also be hosted in Visalia, Calif., April 12-14, 2018. Four regional events are held in late fall and winter; details are at

Graduate Student Spotlights

Rachel Mottet is a part time PhD student who studies Animal Science with an equine emphasis and works full time as an Equine Specialist for Purina Animal Nutrition. She is advised by Dr. Krishona Martinson. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls and a Master’s degree from North Dakota State University in Animal Science with a Reproductive Physiology emphasis. Her research at the University of Minnesota thus far has focused on evaluation of fly control remedies on equines, and she is moving on to a metabolic horse project starting summer of 2017. She is hoping to do a digestibility study in the future as her main research interest is in the area of equine nutrition.

Rachel is originally from Milwaukee, WI and currently lives in Minneapolis, MN. She spends a good portion of her day visiting farms and setting up equine nutrition programs as part of her job. When she is not working or going to school, she spends time with her two dogs, Auggie and Grizzly. She also spends time with her horse, Titan, who she competes with in the equestrian sport of 3-day eventing. On the weekends you will find her checking out local breweries and looking for the latest and greatest food truck in the Twin Cities!

Jinlong Zhu is pursuing a doctoral degree in swine nutrition. He is working with Drs. Shurson and Urriola. His research focuses on the improvement of nutritional utilization of high fiber ingredients in swine diet. He is also exploring how high fiber ingredients reduce nutrient digestibility.

Jinlong grew up in a small town in the middle of China, where animal farming made up a high proportion of family income. With an interest in animal nutrition, Jinlong went to China Agricultural University, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Animal Science.

In his free time, Jinlong enjoys riding his bike, playing football, and running. He finished his first marathon in 5 hours in Beijing 2015.  


Calendar of Events

May 17, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training, Hutchinson, MN

Pre-register – or 1-800-537-7675

May 17-18, 2017  - 21st Annual Distillers Grains Symposium, Indianapolis, IN

May 30-June 1, 2017 - 32nd ADSA Discover Conference on Food Animal Agriculture: Dairy Replacement Heifers - Transitioning from Weaning through First Lactation, Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca, IL\

May 30 - June 1, 2017 Precision Dairy Conference, Lexington, KY

June 13-14, 2017 – WCROC 2017 Midwest Farm Energy Conference, Morris, MN

Pre-register here:

June 14, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Mankato, MN

More information here.

June 28, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training, Mankato, MN

More information here.

June 25-28, 2017 - ADSA Annual Meeting, Pittsburg, PA

July 19, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Marshall, MN

More information here.

August 16, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Waseca, MN

More information here.

August 30, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Morris, MN

More information here.

September 20-21, 2017 - 78th MN Nutrition Conference, City Center Hotel, Mankato, MN

November 8, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus training & Transport Quality Assistance training, Rochester, MN

More information here.

November 15, 2017 – UMN Swine Extension- Pork Quality Assurance Plus Advisor training, Mankato, MN

More information here.