AnSci Connection - March 2018

Notes from the Department Head

Earlier this month, I attended the Midwest Poultry Federation Convention that included the Chicken and Egg Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association/Minnesota Turkey Research and Promotion Council annual meetings.  During the convention, I spent time at the University of Minnesota booth and interacted with growers, industry members and UMN faculty and staff.  The convention also showcased the innovation used to grow poultry products and the connections many had to the University of Minnesota and our department.  It is these connections and a strong Minnesota poultry industry that resulted in the recent announcement that our department will begin searching for a Turkey Reproduction Physiology faculty member who will focus on research and teaching.   Dr. Sally Noll graciously agreed to chair this search that is being funded through AGREETT.  This is one of many examples that highlights the importance of developing and maintaining academic and industry partnerships across the animal science discipline.  Although my time as Interim Department Head is winding down, I enjoy connecting with industry colleagues and farmers and would be happy to attend industry and commodity functions.


Along with the faculty position, we are also searching for our next Department of Animal Science Administrative Director, a position previously held by Dana Souther who recently announced her retirement.  This position greatly contributes to the direction of our department and I’m pleased that Dr. Marcia Endres will chair this search.  Additionally, Dr. Jerry Shurson has agreed to chair a search for a data scientist to work with our Integrated Animal Systems Biology team.  This is a MnDrive funded position that will join two other data scientists in Plant Pathology and Applied Economics.  This position will also interact with the International Agroinformatics Alliance and Genetic, Environmental, Management, and Socioeconomic (G.E.M.S) data efforts.  These faculty and staff will strengthen our Department and help to strategically position us for future endeavors – it’s an exciting time in Animal Science!    


Dr. Krishona Martinson

Interim Department Head

Department of Animal Science     


Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

As posted in CFANS News

Michael M. Schutz, Ph.D., has been named the new head of the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Department of Animal Science.
Schutz, a professor in the Department of Animal Science at Purdue University, is currently the Assistant Director of Extension at Purdue University and oversees Extension Program Leaders for Agriculture and Natural Resources. His ties with the CFANS are strong—he attended the University of Minnesota Morris for two years prior to recognizing his desire to pursue animal science, whereupon he transferred here to major in animal science, receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He was a member of Block and Bridle, a founding member of the Gopher Dairy Club, a member of the 1983 Dairy Judging Team, and the first recipient of the RW Touchberry Award as outstanding junior in Animal Science. He also participated in internships with Kraft Foods and Midwest Breeders. He earned his doctorate in animal breeding and genetics at Iowa State University and did his post-doctoral training in dairy cattle genetics at the U.S.D.A. Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory. Other experience includes posts as the chief geneticist for Canadian Beef Improvement and several roles in dairy extension, agriculture and natural resources administration.

The CFANS Department of Animal Science is recognized nationally and internationally for its excellent research, teaching, and Extension programming in animal agriculture and biology. Schutz will lead the department to enhance the productivity and well-being of animals to support a growing world population through education, science, and innovative technology. The department provides lifelong opportunities for people to learn about animal biology, management systems for domestic animals, and the role of animals in a changing society and seeks new knowledge about biology, production and care of domestic animals. The extension and outreach mission of the Department is to interpret research and provide education for producers and consumers of animal products to improve their economic well-being and quality of life.

Schutz will begin serving in his role on June 11, 2018.

Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny, an Assistant Professor in Animal Science, has devoted a significant part of his early research career to investigate the potential of phytogenics (plant-derived antimicrobial compounds/essential oils) to combat foodborne pathogens that cause human infections. In a new collaborative grant funded by the USDA, he and colleagues from seven other US universities are working together on selected phytogenics for improving the postharvest safety of organic poultry.

Dr. Johny received a $260,000 grant from the USDA NIFA Organic Research and Education Initiative program to develop phytogenics to reduce Salmonella from reaching the consumers through organic chicken and chicken products. He will work to develop applied solutions to kill Salmonella using select phytogenics and their nanoemulsions. Currently, the US organic producers and processors can use chemicals such as chlorine as antimicrobial wash to control pathogens. However, chlorine gets neutralized by common contaminants such as feathers, blood, and excreta. As Dr. Johny’s research reveals, phytogenics could be a great option to prevent the colonization of Salmonella in the poultry gastrointestinal tract. However, Salmonella can live on the surface of poultry products, therefore, destroying them on meat is important to make our organic supply safe for human consumption.

Once the results are obtained, the researchers in the project will collaborate with organic industry to encourage phytogenics in their processing practices. Mr. Wayne Martin, the extension educator and Co-PI of the project, will work with Dr. Johny to disseminate the research.
Dr. Johny is a veterinarian from India, has a Master’s degree in Veterinary Science, and a doctoral degree in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut. Apart from the research on phytogenics, his research at the University of Minnesota involves the development of alternatives to antibiotics approach for preharvest safety of poultry from applied and mechanistic angles.

This project is USDA grant #59-6022-7-002; One-Two Punch for Organic Poultry Processing – Knocking Out Foodborne Pathogens with Plant-Derived Antimicrobials.

Dr. Johny was invited to speak at the 13th ANECA (The Mexican National Association of Poultry Science Specialists) Poultry Processing Conference in Queretaro, Mexico on the 16th of February. His presentation was entitled, “Use of phytochemicals for improving poultry product safety.” Dr. Johny presented in a national webinar hosted by the Cooperative Extension System ( on essential oils, “Essential oils: What are they and why use them with poultry?” Recent investigations in the field of alternatives to antibiotics suggest tremendous potential of essential oils as viable and adoptable approach for the small and backyard flock owners. Dr. Johny discussed what essential oils are and how they can be used in poultry production in detail. See the YouTube link below:

Three recent publications from Johny’s research.
1. Effect of various inoculum levels of multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serovar Heidelberg (2011 ground turkey outbreak isolate) on cecal colonization, dissemination to internal organs, and deposition in skeletal muscles in commercial turkeys after experimental oral challenge 

2. Food Grade Pimenta Leaf Essential Oil Reduces the Attachment of Salmonella enterica Heidelberg (2011 Ground Turkey Outbreak Isolate) on to Turkey Skin 

3. Gene Expression Response of Salmonella enterica Serotype Enteritidis Phage Type 8 to Subinhibitory Concentrations of the Plant-Derived Compounds Trans-Cinnamaldehyde and Eugenol 

News and Announcements

The Department of Animal Science, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota announces Dr. Bruce Behrends as the winner of the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Industry and Dr. Bradley Johnson as the winner of the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Academia. The Golden Alumni Award recognizes one alumni from industry and one alumni from academia for their distinction in their professional lives, recognition for outstanding contributions to animal agriculture, and exceptional service to or volunteer activities in their respective fields.

Dr. Bruce Behrends will be presented with the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Industry. Bruce received his bachelors and both of his advanced degrees in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota under Dr. Paul Waibel. During his time as a student here, Bruce was known for his expertise in poultry and his strong mentoring abilities with his fellow graduate students. Bruce started his career in 1979 when he was hired by Bob Sparboe of Sparboe farms. Over the course of 25 years, Bruce helped to grow Sparboe farms from 300,000 layer hens to 13 million hens and expanded their AGRI-TECH nutrition service and premix business from 3-4 major customers to 30-40 customers across 25 different states. His impacts reached beyond the poultry industry as well. Bruce developed a system of ‘toll’ feed mills that supported nutrition while saving on feed costs, and the system has been widely adapted by the pork industry in the Midwest. He identified growing consumer trends, and has been instrumental in helping establish cage free and organic operations throughout the state. Bruce’s reach is international as well. He is highly regarded by the Japanese egg industry, and has fostered meaningful and important relationships between Japanese egg producers and Sparboe. Throughout his career Bruce served on and volunteered with a number of organizations to share his expertise and talents including the Minnesota Nutrition Conference, Poultry Science Journal, 4H, Litchfield Library Board, and the Department of Animal Science.

Dr. Bradley Johnson will be presented with the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Academia. Brad received both his masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota, Department of Animal Science under Dr. Jay Meiske and Dr. Bill Dayton. After completing his degree, Brad went on to serve as Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University and later as Associate Professor at Kansas State University. He currently serves as a Professor and Gordon W. Davis Regents Chair in Meat Science and Muscle Biology at Texas Tech University. Throughout his career, Brad has demonstrated a consistent and strong record as a scientist. Brad is a nationally and internationally recognized authority in animal growth and muscle biology, with notable applied and basic research contributions in the area of growth-enhancing technologies. As a researcher, he has amassed an impressive record that includes 11 book chapters and invited reviews, 87 peer reviewed scientific journal articles and 187 abstracts. Brad has been sought worldwide in issues related to meat and muscle biology, and has worked with the feedlot industry from Indonesia to South Korea to Brazil. Throughout all of this, he has continued to mentor and teach our next generation of scientists and has advised 70 graduate students and post-doctoral scientists, and taught 14 university courses so far in his career.

Dr. Behrends and Dr. Johnson will be recognized for their achievements and presented their awards at the 2018 Connecting with U – Animal Science Showcase on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Details for the event are listed below. Alumni, industry partners, students, and stakeholders are welcome and encouraged to attend. Register to attend at:

Connecting with U – Animal Science Showcase

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

10:00 AM – 1:30 PM

University of Minnesota—St. Paul Campus
Cargill Building, Atrium and Seminar Room
1500 Gortner Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM – Poster Session
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Lunch and Networking
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM – Awards and Programming

Register here by Monday, April 2:

For information or questions, please reach out to Allison Kierth at

Left to right: Lauren Hendel, Krista Styer, Jake Siewert, Maddie Lindahl, Blaine Knutson, Julia Nunes, Jordan Agrimson, Marcia Endres (coach).

The University of Minnesota was well-represented at the 14th annual Midwest Dairy Challenge held February 7-9 in Madison, WI. The event was hosted by University of Wisconsin-Madison with 118 student participants from 20 collegiate dairy programs in Midwestern states. Participants from the University of Minnesota included CFANS students Jordan Agrimson, Lauren Hendel, Blaine Knutson, Maddie Lindahl, Julia Nunes, Krista Styer, and Jake Siewert. Dr. Marcia Endres coached the team.

Dairy Challenge® is an innovative dairy analysis competition developed by industry and university professionals, which exposes students to opportunities in a vibrant dairy industry. Working in four- or five-person, mixed-university teams, students at the Midwest Dairy Challenge assessed all aspects of a working dairy farm and presented recommendations for improvement to a panel of judges and participating farm families. The ultimate goal of providing recommendations is to help improve farm performance and operation profitability.

Team members presented recommendations and then fielded questions from a panel of judges. These official judges included dairy producers and industry experts in dairy finances, reproduction/genetics, nutrition, and animal health. Presentations were evaluated for accuracy of analysis and recommendations, with awards presented at the end of the day.

Team member Julia Nunes placed 1st on Farm 1. All seven students gave a very professional presentation as individuals on their respective teams. Congratulations! Our students described the contest as an excellent learning and networking opportunity. We thank all the industry sponsors that make the Dairy Challenge possible.

Dr. Jerry Shurson traveled to Brazil in February to meet with animal nutrition researchers at the Federal University of Sao Paulo (ESALQ) in Piracaba, and the Federal University of Vicosa to discuss ongoing and future collaborative research studies to evaluate the nutritional value of new high protein and high fiber corn co-products for swine and poultry. These co-products are being produced by a new corn ethanol plant (FS Bioenergia, Lucas do Rio Verde) in the state of Mato Grosso. He also visited a large swine operation and beef feedlot that are using these co-products in their feeding programs. 

Brian Mike (FS Bioenergia) and Jerry Shurson at the University of Vicosa


High protein dried distillers grains being produced by FS Bioenergia


Broilers on an experiment at ESALQ


Dr. Horacio Santiago Rostagno, Professor of Monogastric Nutrition in the Dept. of Zootecnia at the Federal University of Vicosa

Pictured from left to right as they were participating in the championship match: Scott Dingels, Anne Benzine, Kirsten Hall, and Noah

The Animal Science Academic Quadrathlon Team competed March 11 and 12 in the regional AQ contest held in conjunction with the Midwest ADSA/ASAS meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.  Team members were Scott Dingels, Kirsten Hall, Noah Rechtzigel, and Anne Benzine.  The Animal Science Academic Quadrathlon consists of four components conducted over two days: quiz bowl, lab practicum, written exam and oral presentation.  The U of MN team placed 1st in the quiz bowl, 2nd in the lab practicum, and 6th in the written exam out of 16 collegiate teams.  After competing in the regional AQ, team members attended educational sessions of the Midwest ADSA/ASAS meetings.  

Graduate students Devan Catalano (skier) and Michelle DeBoer (rider) recently competed in a skijoring competition at Canterbury Racetrack with Michelle's horse, Mollie. Skijoring is a timed event in which a horse pulls a skier up to 40 mph while the skier has to complete obstacles. The event is scored based on time, with time penalties given when an obstacle is not performed correctly. The event was divided into 4 categories, novice, youth, snowboarding, and open. Michelle and Devan competed in the novice class with goals to:  1. Not end up in the hospital 2. Get a cool photo and 3. Get into the finals (top ten of each division). Not only did they achieve all of their goals, they placed 5th out of 38 teams! Considering this event was their third time skijoring ever, we are immensely proud of them, however their adviser, Dr. Krishona Martinson, is mostly just pleased that nobody ended up in the hospital! Photo credits go to Shelley Paulson Photography. 


Graduate Student Spotlights

Mathia Colwell is a first year PhD student with Chris Faulk studying Functional Genomics in Animal Science. Most people know her as “Tia”. She grew up in Medford, MN but has called Minneapolis her home since 2010. She received her BS in Biology from Augsburg College (now Augsburg University), focusing her interests in biochemistry and molecular biology. Tia fell in love with research while working with blood proteins at Augsburg, and enjoyed teaching molecular techniques to other students during her undergraduate career. These experiences have fueled her interest to pursue a career in teaching and research within academia. Tia is thankful and loves being part of the Animal Science department, as they are diverse in different fields of research. In the lab, she loves working with undergraduates, and is constantly telling them physics is a useful skill to have in their back pocket. She enjoys designing experiments, troubleshooting, and finding solutions to difficult problems in the lab. In her free time, she likes to stay active by running, paddleboarding, wine tasting, and playing with her puppy, Walter. Tia says, “Stop by the lab some time if you’d like a tour! Stay curious my friends! ”


Congratulations to post-doc Jae Cheol Jang and his wife on having his second baby on February 26th! Welcome to the world, Lincoln

Congratulations to Chris Zellmer on passing his final defense! Chris was advised by Drs. Alfredo DiCostanzo and Marshall Stern. 

From left to right: Dr. Marshall Stern, Chris Zellmer, Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo

Calendar of Events

April 4Department of Animal Science Showcase, St. Paul, MN

April 4PQA Certification, Rice, MN

April 4TQA Certification, Rice, MN

April 18-19Minnesota Dairy Health Conference, St. Paul, MN

April 18PQA Certification, Worthington, MN

April 18TQA Certification, Worthington, MN

April 27-29Minnesota Horse Expo, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

May 31-June 1Dairy Cattle Welfare Symposium, Scottsdale, AZ