current grad program students outside

Outstanding students interested in various aspects of animal science can pursue an accelerated master's, a traditional master's or a Ph.D.  under the program title of Animal Biosciences within the department. Students interested in our graduate program 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 in NY 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 Biosciences M.S. program or the Animal Biosciences Ph.D. program.

Faculty Research Lab sites

Think you might be interested? Look at the different Lab sites for our research faculty. Some newer content may not be up yet so please contact the principal investigator directly with questions and possible openings. 

The Barlow Lab

The Greenwood Lab

The Kraft Lab

The McKay Lab Blog

The Smith Lab Blog

The Testroet Lab

The Townson Lab

The Zhao Lab

APPLY NOW! 

For more information please visit: The Graduate College

Or contact the program advisor: Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao

Animal Biosciences (AMP, MS)
Terrill Hall, (802) 656-2070

Degree: AMP, MS
Deadline: Accepted on a rolling basis
Additional Requirements: GRE General
Coordinators: Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao

Animal Biosciences (PhD)
Terrill Hall, (802) 656-2070

Degree: PhD
Deadline: Accepted on a rolling basis
Additional Requirements: GRE General
Coordinators: Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao, Dr. Stephen Pintauro

 

Grad students jumping in the air

Meet Our M.S. and Ph.D. Students:

Lauren Baker, Continuous Culture Fermentation

Lauren on a mountain with her dog

Lauren Baker was born and raised in Aubrey, Texas. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2018 with a B.S. in Animal Science. During her time there, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant calculating alternative feedstuffs as a fiber source in dairy cattle. In an effort to continue her understanding in ruminant nutrition, she joined Dr. Sabrina Greenwood and Dr. Jana Kraft's lab. Her research uses continuous culture fermenters to evaluate rumen dynamics with added supplementation. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting and spending time with her four-legged best friend Annie.

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.

Ashma Chakrawarti, Antimicrobial Resistance Epidemiology

Ashma with her dog

Ashma was born and raised in Dharan, Eastern region of Nepal. Prior to arriving at UVM, she earned a master’s degree at Tribhuvan University with a focus on Medical Microbiology. Her previous research mainly dealt with Extended Spectrum Beta-lactamase (ESBL) E. coli and Multiple Antibiotic Resistance (MAR) Indexing. After graduating in 2015, she worked as a lecturer in one of the constituent campuses of Tribhuvan University for three years. During that time, she received research grants from Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and University Grants Commission (UGC) Nepal. She has developed a passion for interdisciplinary approaches to address the “One Health” problem of antimicrobial resistance. As a part of her Ph.D. studies under Dr. John Barlow, she will focus on using molecular epidemiological tools and techniques to understand the dynamics of AMR bacteria. Besides study and research, Ashma loves dancing, playing word games and hanging out with her pooch.

Natalie Flores, Fatty acids in fish and cyanobacteria

Natalie fishing

My research interests include aquatic ecology, environmental toxicology, and understanding how chemical substances affect organisms and ecosystems. My doctoral dissertation focuses on enhancing the knowledge on impacts of cyanobacterial blooms on different parts of the environment, including water, fish, and air. I’m using a combination of existing data in a global analysis and new data from field sampling to address these issues. By learning more about the increased presence and effects of cyanobacteria in multiple areas of the environment, I will help characterize potential routes of human exposure to cyanobacteria toxins and identify how blooms may impact the nutritional value of fish through the fatty acid composition and toxins. I aim to broaden the knowledge on ecological impacts of harmful cyanobacteria and environmental patterns in cyanobacteria and their bioactive chemical products.

Caitlin Jeffrey, Mastitis epidemiology

Caitlin holding a calf in a barn

Caitlin Jeffrey grew up in Northfield, Vermont, and graduated from Bowdoin College in 2007 with an A.B. in biology. While at Bowdoin, she completed an honors thesis looking at the effect of weather on foraging behavior of two bird species with different feeding strategies. Caitlin went on to attend Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she focused on both equine and bovine medicine. After graduating with her D.V.M. in 2013, she practiced veterinary medicine as a large animal ambulatory clinician in New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont. She was excited to transition into a PhD program in the UVM Animal Science Department after hearing about an opportunity to work in Dr. John Barlow’s lab. She will be working on a project exploring the microbial community of the mammary gland and bedded packs on organic dairy farms, and how the microbiome of the udder may affect susceptibility to intramammary infection. Email: Caitlin.Jeffrey@uvm.edu

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 completed her Master's degree in Animal Science with Dr. Townson and is continuing to pursue her PhD with research focusing on bovine reproduction and infertility. In her spare time, Abby enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, and swimming.

Bharath Kumar Mulakala, Cow Rumen Meta-Proteomics

Bharath was born and raised in the southern part of India. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in veterinary medicine (DVM). Bharath completed his master’s in Animal Sciences at North Carolina A&T State University. His master’s thesis focused on cow innate immunity. He specifically focused on Galectins expression and secretion in cow milk in relation to somatic cell count. In addition, he also looked at the effect of plant phytochemicals on the modulation of galectins expression and secretion in cow whole blood and neutrophils. After graduation with his master’s in May 2019, he worked as a Research Associate I at City of Hope in Los Angeles, California, for a couple of months. Bharath will be working on his Ph.D. in Dr. Sabrina Greenwood’s lab. His research will be focused on Cow Rumen Meta-Proteomics. Apart from research, Bharath likes to play and watch cricket and love to watch movies.

Morgan Schiknis,

Morgan outside for sunset

Morgan R. Schiksnis is originally from Flanders, New Jersey. She recently graduated from the University of Vermont earning a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Sciences. As an undergraduate, she was a part of the 2016 CREAM group, worked as a research assistant in Dr. Hudson’s lab evaluating the efficacy of drugs against cryptosporidiosis in calves, and conducted research in Dr. Jetton’s Lab, in conjunction with Dr. Kraft, studying the effects of a high fat diet supplemented with bioactive fatty acids on the development of hepatic steatosis in aged mice. Morgan is continuing as a Master’s student in Dr. Kraft’s lab to investigate rumen bacteria and protozoa’s ability to produce unique fatty acids with health benefits to humans in an artificial rumen. In her free time, Morgan likes to hike, run, cook, and play with her pets Winston & Charlie.

Miriam A. Snider, Organic, Grass-Fed Dairy Production & Forages

Miriam holding a piglet

Miriam Snider is originally from Malden, Missouri. She graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 2015 with dual B.S. degrees in Animal Science and Cellular-Molecular Biology. At SEMO, she conducted research focused on bovine reproductive physiology and telomere breakage in Drosophila melanogaster. Miriam moved on and completed her M.S. in Animal Science at the University of Kentucky in 2017. There she focused on beef nutritional physiology and tall fescue toxicity. She specifically looked at the effects of ergot alkaloids from tall fescue on serotonin receptors in bovine gut vasculature and whether said alkaloids were transported via the small intestine. Miriam will be working on her PhD in Dr. Sabrina Greenwood’s lab, collecting and analyzing data from continuous culture fermenters and organic, grass-fed dairy farms in Vermont to develop better nutrition and forage management plans. In her free time, Miriam enjoys reading, trivia, museum hopping, watching Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs football, collecting oddities, and being with her husband, Josh, and cat, Louise.

Emily Stassen, Methylation of DNA in cattle

Emily feeding a horse

Emily Stassen is originally from Glastonbury, Connecticut. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2016 with a B.S. in Molecular and Cell Biology. At UConn she researched interactions between human proteins and viral decoy RNA in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biophysics. She worked on understanding these protein-dsRNA interactions to better understand how viruses evade our natural defenses and replicate their RNA in the host cell. Emily will be working on her Ph.D. with the Cellular, Molecular, and Biomedical Science program with Dr. Stephanie McKay. Her research here will focus on understanding how DNA methylation interacts with the genome to give rise to phenotypes in cattle. Emily also enjoys spending time with her family in her free time.

Victoria Taormina, Dairy Fats in Human Health

Victoria smiling outside

Victoria Taormina was born in New York, raised in New Jersey, and is excited to continue her education in Vermont. She recently graduated from UVM with a B.S. in Dietetics, Nutrition, and Food Science. As an undergraduate, she conducted research with Dr. Jana Kraft, investigating the role of food descriptions in the decision-making process. Drawn to Dr. Kraft’s clinical nutrition research, she will begin her Ph.D. research exploring unique dairy fats and their role in human health and disease prevention, specifically type 2 diabetes. Victoria likes to cook, crochet, and walk around Burlington.

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

Heather Schuettner, acquisition of antimicrobial resistance in S. aureus

Heather outside in a field with her dog

Heather is originally from Massachusetts and came to UVM as an undergraduate in 2015. During her time as an undergraduate she conducted research in Dr. Barlow's laboratory, and she earned a B.S. in Zoology in 2018. She plans to continue her work in the Barlow lab while pursuing an M.S. in Animal Science. Heather's research focuses on the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance in S. aureus, and her goal is to determine whether naturally-occurring antimicrobial compounds found in plant essential oils have the potential to serve as an alternative to traditional antibiotics. Outside of school, Heather enjoys cheering on Boston sports teams, cooking (and eating), and hiking around New England with her dog.

Michelle LaCasse, Fatty Liver Disease in periparturient dairy cows

Michelle at a conference

Michelle LaCasse was born and raised in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. She graduated from Winona State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Cellular and Molecular Biology and a double major in Ecology. Her undergraduate research consisted of a human nutrition study that focused on satiety and the effects of pre-meal snack choices.
During her time in southern Minnesota, Michelle completed two internships with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Her work included trout management in over 600 miles of streams at a fisheries office in the Driftless region.
Michelle is pursuing a Master’s degree in Animal Science in Dr. Testroet’s Lab with research focusing on Fatty Liver Disease in periparturient dairy cows.

Katie Smith (Miner Institute), Indigestible fiber and fermentable starch

Katie hugging a cow in a barn stall

Katie Smith was born and raised in Blue Springs, Missouri, A town about 45 minutes from Kansas City. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2017 with an Animal Science degree with a Pre-Vet emphasis. In 2018, she was the student grazing dairy manager at the University’s dairy farm, where she managed around 40 head in an intensive rotational grazing system. She now resides in Chazy, New York at the Miner Institute where she is working towards a Master’s degree in dairy cattle nutrition. In Katie’s free time, she enjoys trying new recipes, going on nature walks, and petting other people’s dogs.