AnSci Connection - October 2017

Notes from the Department Head

Fall Semester is well underway and it is a busy time for students, staff and faculty in the department who are involved in classes and other activities associated with research and Extension.

Welcome to Dr. Andres Gomez! Dr. Gomez recently joined our department as an Assistant Professor. His expertise is in the area of the microbiome associated to animals and humans. He will be an integral part of the integrated Animal Systems Biology Team, and we’re excited to see what he brings to our department.

The 78th MN Nutrition Conference, presented in September by the Department of Animal Science, University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Extension, was a great success! Over 300 people attended the conference in Mankato this year. The positive impact of this installment of the Minnesota Nutrition Conference was evident from the abundance of positive comments in the evaluation forms left by participants. The conference brings together academic, industry and producer representatives and is designed to provide leading-edge, research-based knowledge to advance sustainable production of beef, dairy, equine, poultry and swine.

Thanks to Dr. Beth Ventura, the Department of Animal Science now hosts an Animal Welfare Judging Team! Dr. Ventura has organized and leads the University of Minnesota Animal Welfare Judging Team. The team will compete each year at the Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Competition. The competition teaches students to assess the welfare of animals in a variety of settings using science-based methods and reasoning.  Students participating in this team will develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare. Please check out a more complete description of the Animal Welfare Judging Team in this month’s AnSci Connection.

We are concluding interviews to a fill a Beef Production Systems faculty position funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as part of the AGREETT (Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Technology Transfer) Program. This position is 60% extension and will focus on conducting translational research in the area of beef cattle production systems.

Wishing you all the best.

Dr. William R. Dayton

Department Head

Teaching, Research, and Extension Highlights

Dr. Andres Gomez joins the Department of Animal Science as an Assistant Professor with expertise in the microbiome. Dr. Gomez will be a core component of the Integrated Animal Systems Biology Team ( In his role he will develop a research program related to the microbiome in food animal production, teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses, and recruiting and mentoring graduate students.

Dr. Gomez obtained a Bachelor of science degree in animal sciences from the National University of Colombia (Medellin), and a Masters of Science in Biotechnology (Microbial ecology)  from the same university. After an internship at the USDA working with soil microbial ecology and bioremediation, he did his PhD in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under supervision of Dr. Bryan White, studying gastrointestinal microbial communities of humans and nonhuman primates in the context of of host ecology and health. He did his postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he worked with Dr. Ran Blekhman studying the host genetic and dietary factors shaping the gut microbiome of nonhuman primates and diverse human populations worldwide. Before joining the Department of Animal Science he worked as a staff scientist at the J. Craig Venter institute in San Diego California, where he focused on using genomics to keep exploring human and animal microbiomes.

At the University of Minnesota, Dr. Gomez's research focuses on understanding the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that shape animal and human microbiomes, in the context of physiology, nutrition, health, ecology and evolution. To that end, he uses traditional and high-throughput molecular techniques, along with bioinformatics and statistics tools to characterize single microbes and microbial communities, and employs an integral view of host-microbe systems.

Swine producers looking to transition into organic production will soon have additional resources and support from the U of MN swine research team. Yuzhi Li, Associate Professor of Swine at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC), Morris, was recently awarded funding through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to look at ways to better support organic swine producers.

As a University of Minnesota entity, the WCROC is uniquely positioned to solve some of the issues surrounding organic swine production using a multidisciplinary approach. Dr. Li will look at production areas such as cost, return on investment, organic feed, genetics, health, and welfare. She will partner with other staff and faculty from the WCROC, U of MN St. Paul campus, USDA-ARS, and other ROC’s to look at utilizing cover crops, such as camelina, as feed ingredients to reduce feed costs for organic swine producers.

One of the goals of the project is to “provide scientific-based information to producers to help them in organic swine production,” says Yuzhi. “Small scale organic producers face different problems from large scale producers, and would benefit from University research as well.”

A large component of the project is outreach. By better understanding the issues that organic producers face, programming and recommendations can be developed. A series of seminars and focus groups will aim to identify issues and challenges that organic producers face.

Funding for this project is provided by USDA National Institute on Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through two grants

1)      Integrated Research and Extension Planning – Organic Swine, and 2) Breaking barriers to organic swine transition: Utilizing cover crops as feed ingredients to reduce feed cost.

Dr. Andres Gomez, new faculty member to the Department of Animal Science, was part of a short documentary that aired on HBO Friday, October 6th. The documentary was part of the HBO-Vice series and featured Dr. Gomez’s work with microbiome research.

The segment explored how western populations have lost substantial diversity in their gut microbiomes compared to populations living under traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Dr. Gomez traveled to central Africa and was joined by two other microbiome researchers as they compared the microbiomes between the BaAka hunter-gatherers and a nearby group that are agriculturalists. Through these comparisons they explained the loss of microbiome diversity in industrialized populations in the context of westernized diets, modern lifestyles, increased sanitation, and modern disease patterns.

Vice first approached Dr. Gomez and his colleague Dr. Ran Blekhman from the College of Biological Sciences about appearing in the series after learning about their published work in Cell Reports that featured their research on the microbiome.  ("Gut Microbiome of Coexisting BaAka Pygmies and Bantu Reflects Gradients of Traditional Subsistence Patterns.") Dr. Gomez hopes that this segment will further expose the general population to understanding the importance of the microbiome. Particularly how they have changed as humans have acquired different lifestyles and the correlation with the rise of modem diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

The documentary aired Friday, October 6th at 6:30 PM and 10:30 PM CST on HBO.

News and Announcements

The Department of Animal Science, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota is excited to again call for nominations for the Golden Alumni Award. The award recognizes and honors an outstanding alumna or alumnus of the Department of Animal Science. The award will be presented during the Department’s annual showcase which highlights the work of our faculty and students.

Nominations are invited based on the following:

· One recipient will be chosen annually in February and invited to participate in the Department of Animal Science Showcase event in April. The award includes travel to campus and related expenses.

· Nominees must have received a baccalaureate or graduate degree from the Department of Animal Science.

· Current staff or faculty in the department or sitting Regents are not eligible for this award.

· Nominees are chosen based on their demonstrated distinction in their professional lives, recognition for outstanding contributions to animal agriculture and exceptional service to or volunteer activities in their field.

· This award is meant to recognize alumni in industry and/or academia, and is inclusive of all types of degree(s) earned.

Nominations consist of a letter highlighting the nominee’s accomplishments, a current resume, and two letters of support.

Nominations will be accepted at any time, but must be received by Tuesday, January 16th to be considered for the current year’s award. The award will be presented at the Department of Animal Science Showcase in April.

Nominations not previously selected will be held for two years. The recipient will be selected by the Communications Committee of the Department of Animal Science.

Nominations should be sent to:

(Please send PDF via email or USPS)

Allison Kierth

UMN Department of Animal Science

1364 Eckles Avenue, 305 Haecker Hall

St. Paul, MN 55108


With the school year just beginning, we thought that we would take a second to introduce all of our new graduate students that will be studying within our department this year! Take a second to read about what they are studying, who their advisor is, and what each of them likes to do in their spare time when they aren’t committed to their research!

Mathia Colwell

Tia is a PhD student with Dr. Chris Faulk studying functional genomics and epigenetics! Besides drinking coffee and over using exclamation points in her emails, she is passionate about learning and teaching science, contributing towards Grand Challenges, inspiring others, and pipetting. Her dream is to help advance the field of biology and influence our future generations to make our world a better place.

Rielle Perttu

Rielle’s area of research is dairy cattle economics and welfare under the advisement of Kota Minegishi and Marcia Endres. In her free time she enjoys camping. Rielle just recently got back from a two week camping trip where she visited Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park for the Great American Eclipse. A year ago, Rielle and her fiancé purchased a house in Uptown so they like to take their dogs around Lake Calhoun or spend time in their backyard with their chickens. 

Amanda Reiter

Amanda is from northern Minnesota. She completed her Bachelors in Animal Science with an equine emphasis from the University of Minnesota in 2017. The following summer, she started the her master’s program with Drs. Krishona Martinson and Marcia Hathaway in Animal Science with an emphasis on Equine studies. She is fortunate enough to have diverse projects including examining the long-term effects of hay storage as well as exploring the mechanisms of equine muscle.

Claire Peichel

Claire is a first year master’s student studying under Anup Kollanoor Johny. She received her bachelor’s in Food Science at the University of Minnesota. Her focus of research is Food Safety and Microbiology in Poultry.

Allison VanDerWal

Allison grew up on a beef and crop farm in Southwest Minnesota where she fell in love with cattle and production agriculture. In May of 2017, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s in Animal Science with an emphasis in beef production. Her current area of research is ruminant nutrition and her advisor is Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo.

Shijina Raj Manjankattil Rajan

Shijina is a master’s student the Department of Animal Science. Her advisor is Dr. Anup Kollanoor Johny, and her major area of research is poultry microbiology. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry in India. 

Dr. Lee Johnston spent two weeks at the Ministry of Agriculture Feed Industry Centre (MAFIC) in Beijing, China during late September. Lee was invited by the Director of MAFIC, Dr. Defa Li, to go to Beijing to work with their graduate students and faculty on editing and advancing papers for scientific publication.

During his visit, Lee was joined by his former student Dr. Xiaojing Li. Xiaojing earned her PhD in the Department of Animal Science in 2013. She was advised by Lee and co-advised by Dr. Jerry Shurson. Xiaojing had the opportunity to catch up with Lee and her M.S. supervisor at MAFIC, Dr. Xiangshu Piao. Dr. Li is currently Director of China Joint Venture operations for JBS United, a feed company in Sheridan, Indiana. Xiaojing said she enjoyed having dinner with her “academic mother and father!”

Left to right – Dr. Hongyu Zhang, COFCO Biotech (MAFIC graduate); Dr. Lee Johnston, Dr. Xiaojing Li, JBS United; Dr. Xiangshu Piao, MAFIC Professor; Shenfei Long, MAFIC M.S. Student

There have been many different projects and accomplishments that have occurred in our labs here on campus. Here’s what has been happening in Dr. Anup Johny’s Lab.

Dr. Johny has been awarded $260,000 from the USDA OREI program for the research on the post-harvest poultry safety using phytophenolics. He is the Co-PD responsible for the activities at the University of Minnesota. Mr. Martin will join him in the education and extension activities. The research team in which Dr. Johny is a member won a total of $2 million from the OREI program. The participating institutions are USDA - ARS, Ark, U Ark, UConn, UMN, NCSU, Appalachian SU, Cal Poly, and U Kentucky.

Dr. Johny also presented his talk “Investigating Multiple Alternative Antimicrobial Interventions against Multidrug-Resistant Salmonella Heidelberg in Poultry” in a Food Microbiology session entitled “Developing Solutions for Poultry Safety Amidst Antibiotic Regulations.” In addition, Dr. Johny was appointed the Secretary of the Food Microbiology Division for the 2017-2019 governance year.

Divek Nair, the doctoral student in the lab, won the Minnesota Nutrition Conference graduate poster presentation a second time. Getting closer to his graduation, he is very busy these days! Earlier during the summer, Divek presented at the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting and won the John Ayres Graduate Poster competition (first place) a second time! Congratulations, Divek!

Dr. Johny published an original research article in the Frontiers in Microbiology journal (Impact factor 4.0). His research describes the gene expression response of the Salmonella Enteritidis phage type 8 (outbreak strain) to two promising phytobiotic alternatives in poultry. Read the article by following this link.

Graduate students Divek Nair and Grace Dewi presented at the Poultry Science Annual Meeting this year. It was a great experience for Grace. That was her first national competition experience.

We have been active participants in the Gopher Poultry Science Club activities this far! GPSC is the collective of students who are interested in poultry. The group meets once a month and engage themselves in several fun and organizational activities. If interested in joining GPSC, send an email to

New graduate students, Ms. Claire Peichel and Shijina Manjankattil joined Dr. Johny for the MS program. Claire is a former lab member who worked as a UROP scholar during her junior and senior years. In addition, Dr. Luna Akhtar joins Dr. Johny in his antibiotic alternatives research starting in October as a Research Associate. 

Dr. Marcia Endres was invited by the University of Santa Catarina in Brazil to speak on the topic of compost bedded pack barns at the 4th National Conference of Sustainable Animal Production in late September 2017. There were over 500 attendees, including undergraduate and graduate students from 5 universities in the region, veterinarians, consultants, academics, and farmers.

In addition, she presented on the topic of using compost as a potential value-added product for dairy producers at the Brazilian Department of Agriculture Forum, a pre-conference event. Dr. Endres’s team was the first in the world to conduct research on the topic of compost bedded pack barns in the mid 2000’s along with organizing the National Compost Barn Conference held in Minnesota in 2007.  This alternative housing system has gained interest internationally. In the last 10 years, Dr. Endres has advised dairy producers and consultants, hosted farm tours and gave talks to people from over 25 countries on this topic. Possibly the country with most growth is Brazil, with the first compost barns built in the early 2010’s. Dr. Endres has given talks and participated in field days in various regions of Brazil in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Many producers there have switched from a system of semi-confinement and access to pasture to a total confinement system using compost barns. Surveys conducted in Brazil indicate that milk production has increased 15 to 25 pounds per cow per day and somatic cell count has been significantly reduced since the transition to the compost barn system. This is another example of how the research and ideas from MN are improving lives of farmers and animals and increasing animal productivity around the world.

Another September has gone by and the MN Nutrition Conference set a new record in attendance (over 300 people attended the conference this year) premiering at a new venue as it continues its tradition of delivering quality, leading-edge, science-based programming in nutrition of ruminant and monogastric species and horses. The general session of the conference convened speakers to address the main theme: “The Future of Animal Production”. The City Center Hotel in Mankato was the site of the 78th version of this conference. This conference is one of only a handful of conferences of such scope remaining in the country. DuPont kindly sponsored the pre-conference symposium and aligned its program with the general theme of the conference: “Nutrition in the Future”.

At a time when the regulatory and societal climate surrounding application of technologies in feeding and managing domestic animal species is changing, the pre-conference symposium committee and the conference committee put forth an outstanding effort in recruiting world-renowned speakers assembled for these first-day sessions. Speakers in the DuPont symposium highlighted the relevance of animal, gut, microbiome nutrition, strategies to enhance efficiency of feed conversion in beef and dairy cattle, and the role of enzymes and direct-fed microbials in nutrition.

In the general session of the conference, Ms. Leah McGrath, dietician of Ingles Supermarkets in Asheville, NC, led the program describing consumer attitudes and the conversation around perceptions on food nutritional quality, source and environmental impact. This outstanding presentation opened up the forum for a discussion on technologies to rely less on antibiotic use by Dr. Clayton Johnson of Carthage Veterinary Service of Carthage, IL, and a vision for incorporating animal comfort and welfare measures in livestock production by Dr. Courtney Daigle, Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. A challenge to consider the impact of removing approved feed additive and growth-promoting implant technology tools, and restrictions on certain antibiotic use in beef cattle production on economic and biologic efficiency was laid out elegantly by Tom Peters, owner of Superior Attitude Livestock Technologies, LLC of Oregon, IL. The evening was rounded out by an award presentation to graduate student winners of the Second Graduate Student Poster competition graciously hosted by the Midwest Chapter of ARPAS, and a review of mycotoxin testing and performance assessment tools by Dr. Alexandra Weaver of Alltech, Inc. Alltech, Inc. was the sponsor of a pleasant evening reception that followed.

The second day led to excellent opportunities for conference attendees to choose from one of three concurrent sessions focused on monogastric, ruminant or equine nutrition. All these sessions convened outstanding speakers in various salient research areas. These areas included: vitamin and mineral nutrition of monogastric and ruminant species, the role of nutrition in immune-regulation in monogastric and equine species, use of enzymes and of antibiotic alternatives in monogastric species, forage quality and management for ruminant and equine species, amino acid nutrition of monogastric species, nutrition and management of the transition dairy cow and those milked by robotic milkers, fiber requirements of sows, feed formulation in alternative poultry production systems, and effect of growing phase strategy on finishing and carcass performance of feedlot cattle.

The positive impact this installment of the MN Nutrition Conference was evident from the abundance of positive comments in the evaluation forms left by participants. In addition, the organizing committee and conference staff received many expressions of gratitude from attendees and speakers alike. As the committee prepares to meet to evaluate conference outcomes and plan for the 79th Minnesota Nutrition Conference, they kindly encourage you to submit topic and speaker ideas.

The Department of Animal Science welcomes a new student team to its roster: the Animal Welfare Judging Team, which will compete at the Annual Intercollegiate Animal Welfare Judging and Assessment Contest (AWJAC), held every November at a new university around the country. The competition was founded in 2002 with the aim to provide students interested in the science of animal welfare with the opportunity to refine their assessment skills in a real-life context. Students learn to rapidly and critically assess data on housing, management, stockmanship, animal physiology and animal behavior in order to form sound evaluations of animal welfare rooted in science. Students then present their evaluations through the delivery of oral reasons in front of a judging panel. The contest ensures that tomorrow's leaders in the animal industries develop strong communication skills and acquire enhanced knowledge of animal welfare.

Each fall, up to 10 undergraduates and 5 graduate and veterinary students will meet twice weekly to train together in preparation for the contest. The competition chooses four new animal species each year, and students judge scenarios for those four species at competition, including one live assessment at an animal facility nearby. This year, the students are becoming experts on farmed fish, meat rabbits, racing greyhounds, and finisher pigs, before traveling to competition at Iowa State University in mid-November. 

Current students interested in joining the team can contact Dr. Beth Ventura at, once they have taken the prerequisite class in the spring (ANSC 2015: Animal Welfare Science and Ethics). To learn more about the competition, visit, and like the UMN Animal Welfare Judging Team on Facebook at

Dr. Marshall D. Stern was an invited speaker at the U.S. Soybean Export Council 4th Regional Dairy Nutrition and Soybean Meal Transportation and Shipping Conference held at Ishtar Dead Sea, Jordan on September 25th -27th. Dr. Stern addressed “Methods for Improving Efficiency of Protein Utilization in Dairy Cattle”. Attendees included representatives from 9 different countries in the Middle East and the U.S. Before the conference, Marshall had the opportunity to visit Petra, one of the 7 wonders of the world.

The Minnesota Nutrition Conference hosted its second Graduate Student Poster Competition.  In an effort to enhance sharing of research results, graduate student participation and networking opportunities, the steering committee of the conference decided to host a Graduate Student Poster Competition starting in 2016.  Students from University of Minnesota and neighboring universities were encouraged to submit posters and abstracts of current or recently presented research, using formats acceptable by the American Dairy Science Association and American Society of Animal Science for these formats.  Eight entries were received in 2016, and included seven posters from University of Minnesota graduate students, and one from a graduate student at South Dakota State University.  In 2017, thanks to a greater effort by the committee and response, 15 entries were received from graduate students from the University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, and University of Illinois. 

The Midwest Chapter of the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) sponsored the competition in both 2016 and 2017.  Winning entries ranked from first to third place received cash awards and the student ranked first place also received a free 1-year membership to ARPAS. 

Nair Divek, Ph.D. student of Dr. Anup Johnny, competing with his poster entitled “Effect of a dairy probiotic, Lactococcus lactis, on Listeria monocytogenes in broiler chicks received first place. 

Second place was awarded to Haley Johnson; her poster was entitled “Effect of inclusion of modified distillers grains and soy glycerin in beef cattle finishing diets on ruminal fermentation”.  She is a Ph.D. student co-advised by Dr. Marshall Stern and Dr. Alfredo DiCostanzo. 

The poster entitled “Development of Swine Enteroids: a Novel Tool for Animal Nutrition Research” submitted by Michaela Trudeau, a Ph.D. student advised by Drs. Jerry Shurson and Pedro Urriola received third place in the competition. 

The greater number of entries during this second year of the Minnesota Nutrition Conference Graduate Student Poster competition demonstrates interest by students to share results of research they have conducted.  Further, it permits dissemination of research results in a succinct and effective manner, which also leads to student interaction with leaders of pharmaceutical, nutrition and feed manufacturing companies.  These are characteristics, which further distinguish the Minnesota Nutrition Conference from other similar conferences in the country.  Conference attendee evaluations of this competition reflected positive reception of this segment of the conference.  The committee is expected to approve continuing with this feature of the conference in 2018.

The University of Minnesota’s dairy cattle judging team placed 1st overall in oral reasons in the national collegiate contest for the second time in three years on October 2 at World Dairy Expo, Madison, WI.  The Minnesota team was also 2nd in Brown Swiss, 2nd in Milking Shorthorn, 4th in Guernsey, 5th in Holstein, 5th in Jersey, and 6th overall.    

Team member Brooke Roberts, Whitelaw, WI, placed 1st individually in oral reasons, and she is the fourth University of Minnesota contestant over the past seven years to place 1st in oral reasons in the national collegiate contest.  Other team members were Laura Jensen, Comstock, WI; Austin Schmitt, Rice, MN; and Trent Dado, Amery, WI.  Individually, Roberts was also 3rd in Brown Swiss and 12th overall.  Jensen was 4th in oral reasons, 3rd in Milking Shorthorn, and 14th overall, and Schmitt was 19th overall.

Coaches for the team were Dr. Les Hansen; Scott Ellinghuysen, Altura, MN; Alicia Thurk Hiebert, Browerville, MN; and Eric Houdek, graduate student.

Photo caption: University of Minnesota team member Brooke Roberts, Whitelaw, WI, was presented the plaque for top individual in oral reasons in the national collegiate dairy cattle judging contest from Dr. Dave Selner, Executive Director of National Dairy Shrine.

Photo caption: First-place oral reasons team in the national collegiate dairy cattle judging contest at World Dairy Expo, Madison, WI, from the University of Minnesota (l. to r.): Graduate student Eric Houdek, coach; Scott Ellinghuysen, Altura, MN, coach; Trent Dado, Amery, WI; Laura Jensen, Comstock, WI; Brooke Roberts, Whitelaw, WI; Austin Schmitt, Rice, MN; Alicia Thurk Hiebert, Browerville, MN, coach; Dr. Les Hansen, coach.

Do you have the best chili in the land? Do you have the perfect recipe? Do you just enjoy eating chili? Please join us in the ABLMS front lobby Friday, November 17th at noon for a friendly chili cook-off! Bring a pot of your best chili to share, or just show up ready to eat and vote! All are welcome. It is free to enter and free to sample and vote for your favorite! At 1 PM we will name the winner of the “People’s Choice” award, whose name will be added to the brand new “Chili Chalice”! If you plan to bring chili to be judged, please respond to All are encouraged to shop in the meat lab for your meat ingredients! Good luck and good cooking!

Entering the program’s 13th year, Alltech will offer the undergraduate winner a fully funded 4-year PhD program to be agreed with the appropriate University and Alltech. We will offer the graduate winner a post-doc position in an Alltech Bioscience Centre (Dunboyne, Ireland or Lexington, US) for up to 2 years. In addition, winners are awarded cash prizes. Our 2016 graduate winner Dr. Richard Lally, now in the first year of his post-doc, shares his story at


Spread the word about this competition by encouraging bright, motivated students to apply. Please nominate an undergraduate and a graduate student to participate in the program by filling the attached nomination form. The deadline is Oct 31, 2017. Nominated students then write an agriscience research paper and submit it online (firm deadline December 31, 2017) to enter the competition. This competition is a major opportunity for students to get further experience during the competition itself, and also provides a major incentive for the winners.

Attached you will find information on the broad topics to be considered for submission, along with details on student registration and procedures for submission of materials. There are regional competitions from which the four finalists in both categories will be selected to take part in the final global competition in Kentucky, which takes place as part of ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, in May 2018. All finalists will have their travel and accommodation fully covered by Alltech to visit Kentucky. It is a very exciting opportunity! You can find out more at

NOTE:  Alltech does not take ownership of the research paper that students submit, but reserves the right to use only the title and abstract for promotional purposes.

Graduate Student Spotlights

Yuan-Tai Hung grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, which is 7000 miles away from Minnesota. He attended school in Taichung city, an industrial city on the western side of central Taiwan, for his undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2012, he graduated from National Chung Hsing University and earned a master’s degree in Animal Science. In his previous research, he evaluated the effect of supplementing sorghum distillery residue and polyethylene glycol on laying performance and blood characteristics in laying hens. After graduation, he went to compulsory military service for a year. After his service, he worked as a technical sales representative at Leader Nutrition Technology Co., Ltd. He promoted feed additives and antibiotics imported from international manufacturers to poultry and swine producers and feed mills. Nevertheless, he always wanted to study abroad and see the world, so he started looking at schools and preparing his applications for PhD programs.

In Fall 2016, Yuan-Tai started his PhD program with the Department of Animal Science. He is advised by Drs. Milena Saqui-Salces, Pedro Urriola, and Jerry Shurson. His research focuses on swine nutrition, specifically focusing on biomarkers of swine with different dietary treatments. Overall, he enjoys life at the University of Minnesota and appreciates the people around him that help and support him. 


Former Animal Science graduate students, Brenda Reiter (grad student in Growth Biology with Dr. Bill Dayton and Mike White) and Sam Fessenden (grad student in Dairy Nutrition with Dr. Marshall Stern) tied the knot in Plainview, MN on October 7, 2017. Elana and Marshall Stern had the pleasure of attending the wedding and reception in Rochester, MN.