current grad program students outside

Outstanding students interested in various aspects of animal science can pursue both the master's and Ph.D. degrees within the department. Students pursuing the Ph.D. become members of the ANFS (Animal, Nutrition and Food Science) Ph.D. graduate program and conduct their research under the guidance of an ASCI mentor. Students interested in obtaining a Ph.D. in any area related to Animal Science can contact the graduate program coordinator, Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao.

During their program of study, graduate students at UVM work closely with their faculty mentor and committee members who are often from other Departments. Typically a master's degree candidate acquires skills in research design and conduct as well as methodologies relevant to their research project. Candidates for the Ph.D. gain these skills as well as the ability to independently conduct, design and review their own research. Our students also undertake a variety of coursework during their program and are given the opportunity to gain valuable teaching skills that we feel are essential for all students in the sciences.

Graduate students enjoy access to a variety of excellent facilities across campus. Our nearby Miller research facility is used for studies involving livestock and complements other animal facilities on campus that are used to study models such as genetically-modified rodents. Several faculty within ASCI are members of the Vermont Cancer Center that provides students with access to state-of-the-art microscopy and genetic analysis facilities. Our relationship with the Miner Institute also provides the opportunity for students to explore additional research topics in dairy cattle nutrition and behavior. Did we mention that Burlington continually ranks as one of the most livable cities in the U.S.? Learn about Burlington, VT.

The Graduate College

Student with goat in her lap

Several mechanisms exist for the financial support of excellent candidates. Applications are typically reviewed on a rolling basis and can be submitted through the Graduate College at UVM. Students can either apply for admission to the Animal and Veterinary Sciences M.S. program or the ANFS Ph.D. program.

Grad students jumping in the air

Meet Our Graduate and Ph.D. Students:

Ariel Ayers, organic dairy farms

Ariel standing with her horse

Ariel Ayers grew up on a small beef farm in Whitehall New York. She recently graduated from the University of Vermont earning a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Sciences. As an undergraduate, she worked on a small dairy farm milking weekday mornings and gaining more hands-on experience and management skills. Ariel is continuing her education as a Master’s student in Dr. Sabrina Greenwood’s lab. She will be collecting and analyzing data from organic dairy farms across Vermont, trying to identify the most economically sustainable feeding protocol for organic dairies in the New England region. In her free time, Ariel enjoys boxing, CrossFit, being around her animals, snowmobiling, and going out on her boat. Email: Ariel.Ayers@uvm.edu

Suraj Bhattarai, bovine epigenetics

student holding a pool que

Suraj Bhattarai was born and raised in Jhapa, a part of Nepal where it doesn’t snow. He graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi with a master’s in Biotechnology in 2014. There, he studied trans-regulation of nerve growth factor (NGF beta) by tumor suppressor p53 under hypoxia in colon cancer cells. In 2015, he went to Nepal and worked as a lecturer of molecular biology and animal biotechnology in Sunsari technical college, Dharan affiliated to Tribhuvan University. During this time, he completed a research project funded by Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) as a principle investigator. While he was working in Nepal, he realized that animal genetics would be a field which intersected his skills in molecular biology and passion for livestock improvement especially in developing countries like Nepal. This led him to Dr. Stephanie McKay’s laboratory in the spring of 2018 where he is working on various genetic and epigenetic projects.  When Suraj is not working in the lab or generating hypotheses; he enjoys reading books, playing badminton, pool and cooking meals.

Bonnie Cantrell, bovine brains

Bonnie in the park

Bonnie Cantrell is originally from Caldwell, Idaho. She graduated from Washington State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Animal Science. During her time there, she worked for the Animal Science Department in a bovine genetics laboratory. She worked on projects in the laboratory to help decrease disease susceptibility of Johne's disease and Bovine Respiratory Disease in bovine. Bonnie will be working on her Ph.D. in Animal, Nutrition and Food Sciences with Dr. Stephanie McKay. Her research will focus on finding methylation in multiple regions of the bovine brain that correlate with docility. Bonnie also enjoys crafting in her spare time.  Email: Bonnie.Cantrell@uvm.edu

Mallory Honan, bovine milk proteome

Mallory kneeling with her dog

Mallory Honan is from Rouses Point, New York. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2017 with a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Sciences, along with a minor in Chemistry. While she was an undergraduate, Mallory assisted in bovine dietary manipulation trials, in Dr. Sabrina Greenwood's lab,  to explore the possible effects on the milk proteome. Mallory is continuing as a Master's student in Dr. Greenwood's lab to further investigate the bovine milk proteome and identify potential sources of proteins found in milk. Outside the lab, Mallory enjoys coaching track, Crossfit, trying new restaurants, and re-watching The Office.

Nicole Jaskiewicz, glycobiology

Nicole sitting with her infant daughter and her family dog

Nicole Jaskiewicz grew up in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in May of 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. She had always planned on attending veterinary school, but when her mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, Nicole realized her passion for biomedical research. In August of 2012 she enrolled in the University of New Hampshire's Biochemistry Ph.D. program under the mentorship of Dr. David H. Townson. When Dr. Townson became the UVM Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department Chair in January of 2016, Nicole and her family jumped at the opportunity to make a fresh start in Vermont. Nicole's research focus is, the role of Glycobiology, specifically O-GlcNAcylation, in cancer disease progression. Her mother is now cancer free and is her greatest cheer leader! Outside of the lab Nicole enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and their new daughter, Fiona. As a family they enjoy gardening, working on their new home, and hiking with their dog, Newton. Email: Nicole.Jaskiewicz@uvm.edu

Allie Lundberg, infertility in dairy cows

Head shot of Allie smiling

Allie Lundberg is originally from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and graduated with a B.S. in Animal Science from Iowa State University in 2016. During her time at Iowa State, Allie developed a genuine interest and passion for essentially all topics relating to agriculture, livestock, and food systems. In an attempt to narrow her interests, she pursued the opportunity to work as an undergraduate research assistant to Dr. Patrick Gunn where she helped determine nutritional and estrous synchronization protocol effects on follicular development in beef cows. Her continued interest in animal reproduction lead her to Dr. David Townson’s lab at the University of Vermont where she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Animal Science. Her research focuses on the cellular mechanisms that influence apoptosis of bovine granulosa cells as they pertain to follicular selection and atresia in the ovary. Outside of the lab, Allie enjoys being outside, eating and cooking new food, playing with her cat, and exploring New England.

Abby Maucieri, bovine reproduction and infertility

Abby standing with a cow

Abby Maucieri is originally from Altoona, Pennsylvania. She graduated with a B.S. in Dairy Science as well as a B.S. in Animal and Poultry Sciences from Virginia Tech in 2018.  During her undergraduate career at Virginia Tech, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Ben Corl helping in research involving fatty acid analysis and milking frequency. She gained interest in bovine reproduction through coursework, working on a dairy, and while assisting graduate students with their reproductive physiology research. She learned of Dr. Townson’s lab while interning at Miner Institute. She is pursuing her Master’s degree in Animal Science with research focusing on bovine reproduction and infertility. In her spare time, Abby enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, and swimming.

Michael Miller (Miner Institute) , biomarkers for feed efficiency

head shot of Michael outside

Michael Miller, from Needville, Texas, received his B.S. in Biomedical Science from the Texas A&M University in 2014. Following graduation, he received a M.S. in Animal science at Texas A&M University with a focus on identifying biomarkers for feed efficiency in feedlot cattle. He will be working towards his Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. Rick Grant and Dr. Heather Dann at the William H. Miner Institute in Chazy, New York, as well as taking classes at UVM. His research will focus on fiber dynamics in the rumen and modeling them in Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS). Outside of the barn, he likes to explore new places with his wife and dog.

Wyatt Smith (Miner Institute), dairy cattle diets

Wyatt outside in in MN

Wyatt Smith is originally from Hamburg, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2016 with a B.S. in Animal Science. He is currently working towards his Master's Degree under the direction of Dr. Rick Grant at the William H. Miner Institute located in Chazy, New York. Through this program, he will be taking classes at UVM and participating in research projects at the Miner Institute. His research will focus on indigestible portions of neutral detergent fiber in dairy cattle diets.  Email:  Wyatt.A.Smith@uvm.edu

A.J. Spitzer, hypoxia in mastitis

A.J. with his two pet chinchillas

A.J. Spitzer is from Cleveland, Ohio and has always loved all things living. In his early years, he expressed this passion by personally rearing over a hundred different species of animals. He meandered his way north to the University of Vermont and graduated in May 2016 with a B.S. in Animal Science and Microbiology. He began studying with Dr. Zhao near the end of his undergraduate career and continues to work with him as he pursues his M.S. degree. In the lab, he investigates the role of severe hypoxia in mastitis through mammary tissue cultures and other methods. His love of herpetology is second to none and his hobbies include cooking, playing or watching sports, hanging out with friends and pets, and boasting a colorful wardrobe.  Email:  Alexander.Spitzer@uvm.edu

Allison Leigh Unger, bioactive fats in milk

Allison by the water smiling

Allison Leigh Unger was born and raised in the Providence, Rhode Island area. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2015 with a B.S. in Animal Science. During her time there, she worked in a laboratory that sought to find sustainable alternatives to chemical anthelmintics in sheep and goats. She came to visit Vermont for the first time last summer and fell in love with the area. Her interest in the connection between agriculture and human nutrition led her to Dr. Jana Kraft's lab. As part of Allison's Ph.D. in Animal, Nutrition, and Food Sciences, she will be a project coordinator at the Clinical Research Center for a study that is looking at the effects of bioactive fats in milk on metabolic health markers, as well as utilizing mice models. She enjoys hiking, baking, coffee, trying new restaurants, and going to the theatre. Her favorite farm animal is a sheep.  Email: allison.unger@uvm.edu