My key research interests include studying the mechanisms of control of physiological and metabolic adaptations that occur in livestock, specifically lipid partitioning in transition dairy cows, which impact the nutritional quality of food and quantity of production. During my graduate training, post-doctoral training, and as an Assistant Professor at The University of Vermont, I have had the opportunity to study metabolic and physiological adaptations associated with the onset and persistence of lactation in several animal models. Most recently, my research group has investigated the role of hepatic energy partitioning in the periparturient dairy cow, the role of colostrum in the development of the immune system of the neonate (both swine and cattle), and the role of nutrition on the cellular and growth biology of the mammary glands during gestation and early lactation. It is a central hypothesis of our laboratory that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a critical role in the successful transition from the non-lactating to lactating states in animals from rodents to humans. Most relevant to this project and the future goals of my laboratory, we intend to characterize the relationship of key proteins and pathways essential to lactation and their relationship to mitochondrial function, with specific emphasis on the MCJ protein, and the relationship to vascular distensibility and cardiovascular health. This foundational knowledge will provide key preliminary data for pursuit of both NIH and USDA funding mechanisms by establishing transdisciplinary research teams in both human and agricultural medicine.
Glacier National Park