AnSci Connection - May 2017

Notes from the Department Head

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

As printed in the May 2017 CFANS Connections.

Representatives from the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) office in Southeast Asia participated in two regional conferences in April to provide context, industry insights and actionable market intelligence to customers of U.S. agricultural commodities. Among those representatives was Dr. Jerry Shurson professor in the Department of Animal Science. As trade in food and feed ingredients continues to increase to meet rising demand, risks and opportunities will also invariably increase, making this one-to-one outreach and the information USGC can provide even more valuable.

The Council showcased U.S. coarse grains and value-added products through a tradeshow booth as well as a one-hour seminar. The USGC-organized seminar attracted more than 60 participants and featured Dr. Jerry Shurson speaking on distiller’s dried grains.

This event allows USGC to promote U.S. grains and value-added products to meet the increasing demand for Southeast Asia’s ever-growing livestock sector. Find more information about the USGC or this conference here.

Dr. Shurson pictured with Mr. Ross Kreamer (Agricultural Minister-Counselor, U.S. Embassy), and several Agriculture and Marketing Specialists with USDA and the American Trade Office. Also in this photo (3rd from right) is Mr. HakSoo Kim, Director of the U.S. Grains Council in S. Korea.

Dr. Shurson lecturing in the Feed Formulation Training Course (40 feed mill managers from various feed companies in Taiwan)

Dr. Shurson meeting with the President (Dr. Chang-Hsien Tai) of National Pingtung University of Science and Technology to discuss research collaborations with our U of M Integrated Animal Systems Biology Team

From left to right: Dr. Shao-Yu Peng (Asst. Professor specializing in strategies to mitigate heat stress in food animals), Mr. Clover Chang (Director, U.S. Grains Council, Taiwan), Dr. How-Hong Hsieh (Professor in animal nutrition), Dr. Jerry Shurson, Dr. Mei-Jin Lin (Associate Professor, Dairy Management), and Dr. Simon Chen (Dairy Nutrition and Management Consultant).

At the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center Dr. Brad Heins has been evaluating a unique method for controlling pasture flies without the use of chemicals. He was recently published in Progressive Dairyman – Canada to share this research and the importance it has on dairy cattle welfare.

Go here to read the article and learn more about Dr. Hein’s research.

The Department of Animal Science is hiring an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist. This is a tenure-track (9-month) position with Extension (60%) and Research (40%) responsibilities involving beef production systems. To learn more, please visit our position description here:

Dr. Shurson’s research is looking at the environmental impacts that a DDGS diet can make in swine production. Read more about it in the May Issue of Ethanol Producer Magazine to learn about Dr. Shurson’s research with Drs. Pedro Urriola and Jennifer Schmitt. Read the article to learn more. 

News and Announcements

Earlier this month the department celebrated the end of the school year with a global themed potluck and departmental awards. Congratulations to our award winners:

Brad Heins – Outstanding Faculty Member

Haley Larson (Advised by Drs. Alfredo DiCostanzo and Marshall Stern) – Outstanding PhD Student

Amanda Grev (Advised by Krishona Martinson) – Outstanding PhD Student


Marta Ferrandis Vila (Advised by Dr. Milena Saqui-Salces) – Outstanding MS Student

Snapshots of our faculty, staff, and graduate students enjoying the spring social!

We're taking a break over the summer, but look forward to updating and improving the newsletter. Help us improve by taking this quick survey!

Department of Animal Science faculty member Dr. Melissa Palmer was named as the Director of the Marine Biology minor. Dr. Palmer will remain a faculty member in the Department of Animal Science and will become an affiliate of the Biology Teaching and Learning department which made the appointment possible. Congratulations Dr. Palmer!

Divek Nair and Grace Dewi, Graduate Research Assistants in the Johny lab, got their scientific abstracts accepted for oral presentations at the Poultry Science Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida from July 17-20, 2017. Divek will be presenting his research poster at the IFT Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada from June 25-28, 2017 as well.

Divek won one of the most prestigious IFT Feeding Tomorrow Graduate Scholarship from the National IFT ($2000) this year. Earlier in April, he won a Minnesota Section IFT Graduate Scholarship ($1000) and a Travel Grant to attend the national IFT meeting ($500) (On the left - Divek receives the awards from Mr. Wayne Scheck, the MNIFT Scholarship Committee Chair).

Dr. Johny received a service appreciation memento from Dr. Mary Schmidl, the MNIFT President and the Past President of National IFT, for serving the MNIFT Executive Board for the past two years (2015 – 2017). He has been serving the Harold Macy Award Committee during this governance year. At the national level, Dr. Johny serves the IFT Food Microbiology Division Board as its Scientific Programs and Awards Chair. 

Dr. Johny spoke at the Classes Without Quizzes (CWQ) program organized by the CFANS Alumni Association on “Chicken Beauties in Our Backyards – Scope, Issues, and Future” where he discussed the current laws and ordinances, scope, diseases, nutrition, care, management, and future of the emerging urban backyard chicken  culture in the United States. Watch a 5-minute video clip here on the talk. 

The Minnesota Nutrition Conference Planning Committee is pleased to announce the agenda for the 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference. View it online at

This year, the conference will be held on September 20 and 21 at a new location: Mankato City Center Hotel ( A block of sleeping rooms is being held for conference attendees. For details, see

The conference committee, comprised of nationally recognized industry professionals and academics, has put together a full agenda with topics of interest to nutrition professionals, nutrition company management personnel and academics. During the general session, the committee chose to focus the discussion on broader issues shaping the future of animal production. 

The conference kicks off on September 20 at 1:00 pm with four internationally known speakers who will address “The Future of Animal Production”. A dietitian, Ms. Leah McGrath of Ingles Supermarkets in Asheville, NC, will deliver a keynote on “Food Fiction vs Food Fact: Understanding the Consumer and the Conversation”.  This topic will lay the groundwork for the other speakers to address “Technologies to Reduce Reliance on Antibiotics” (Dr. Clayton Johnson, Carthage Veterinary Service, Ltd, Carthage, IL), “Incorporating Animal Comfort and Welfare Measures in Livestock Production” (Dr. Courtney Daigle, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University), and how “Economic and Societal Drivers Shaping the Future of the U.S. Beef Industry” (Thomas Peters, Corn Belt Livestock Services, Oregon, IL). 

Within each of the species sessions (equine, non-ruminant and ruminant) scheduled to start on Thursday, September 21 at 8:30 am, species committees invited experts in the fields of nutrition, forage growth and management, immunology, microbiology, and nutrition and gut microbiota interactions to deliver highly educational and motivating talks that will coincide with the theme of the general session. Highlights of these talks across the various sessions include boosting the immune system of horses with nutrition, minerals in the diets of beef and dairy cattle and horses, vitamin nutrition of horses and pigs, dairy and beef production systems, nutrient management of cows milked by robotic machines, amino acid nutrition of pigs and poultry, nutrition-immunity interactions in horses and pigs.

The 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference is proud to be partnering with DuPont for the Pre-conference Symposium on September 20 from 8:30 am to noon at the same venue. In keeping with the theme of the general session, our partners at DuPont chose the topic “Nutrition in the Future”.  Highlights of the Pre-conference Symposium talks include use of enzymes in animal nutrition, animal-gut-microbiome interactions, and strategies to improve production efficiency in beef and dairy cattle.

Given the scope of topics and speakers’ credentials, the committee and conference chairs are certain that nutrition professionals, nutrition company management personnel, and academics will greatly benefit by choosing to attend the 78th Minnesota Nutrition Conference this year. For additional information, please visit

Conference registration is available online at On-site registration begins at 8:00 am each day.

NOTE: A special registration rate is available to Animal Science faculty, graduate students and staff at the University of Minnesota, and to University of Minnesota Extension educators. Please contact Bonnie Rae ( for details.

The Integrated Animal Systems Biology Team is a group comprised of Drs. Jerry Shurson, Chi Chen, Chris Faulk, Milena Saqui-Salces, and Pedro Urriola. The team takes a multi-faceted approach to develop solutions in animal production using metabolomics, transcriptomics, molecular genetics, metagenomics, bioinformatics, intestinal sensing, signaling, and cell differentiation. Learn more about the team and the work that they do by reading their newest brochure. 

Graduate Student Spotlights

Gabriella Furo is pursuing a Master’s degree under the direction of Dr. Sally Noll. Currently Gabi is working in multiple studies to examine the prevalence and severity of Footpad dermatitis (FPD) in turkeys, which is an important animal welfare and economical problem in poultry flocks worldwide. Gabriella is expected to graduate in 2018. She is a member and currently the treasurer of the Gopher Poultry Science Club.

Gabriella is from Hungary, where she received an MS in Agribusiness (2007), then worked with breeder geese and ducks and assisted feed mill and plant production. She became an agricultural exchange student - MAST Trainee - in 2011 and has been living in Minnesota since. She is married and raising a little toddler-tornado named Alma with her husband, Tamas, who is a PhD student at the U of M. Gabi is optimistic that she can balance her time and energy between grad school and family. She has traveled to 14 countries, and hopes to experience many more.

Her career plans are to start a PhD program and help poultry farmers improve their management practices and animal welfare.


Calendar of Events

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.