Dr. Chanhee Lee uses Animal Science to Lessen Farming Environmental Impacts

Aug. 9, 2017

Dr. Chanhee “Chan” Lee is using the study of animal science to lessen farming environmental impacts. His research focuses on improving nutrient utilization efficiency to improve production and lower nutrient excretion.

Dr. Lee didn’t get his start on a farm. He grew up in South Korea’s largest city, Seoul. However, he enjoyed travelling over two hours from home to rural areas on weekends and summer vacation. “I worked with farm crews to help them feed animals and manage farms. That was fun. Then, I decided to study animal sciences in one of the universities in South Korea,” said Dr. Lee.

Dr. Lee would earn his B.S. in Animal Sciences from Konkuk University and his M.S. in Animal Sciences from Seoul National University, both in Seoul, South Korea. In 2008, he travelled to the United States to begin doctoral study at Pennsylvania State University. He earned his Ph.D. in 2012 and stayed an additional six months working as a postdoctoral researcher examining dairy nutrition and environments. In 2013, he continued as a postdoctoral researcher at Lethbridge Research Centre in Canada. He switched his research to beef cattle nutrition and environmental impacts.

In 2015, Dr. Lee began working at The Ohio State University Wooster Campus as an Assistant Professor. His research focuses on four areas: ruminant nutrition (dairy and beef), feed utilization efficiency, nutrient excretion, and Dr. Chanhee Leegas emissions in ruminant animal operations.

According to Dr. Lee, “The goal of my research is to lower environmental impacts of ruminant animal operations by improving feed utilization and lowering nutrient excretion and gas emissions from animals and manure. Results from our research will be greatly helpful on current environmental issues in Ohio, the USA, and also the world (water quality, algae bloom, global warming, air quality, odor, etc). “

Dr. Lee is currently working on several projects. The first seeks to improve feed efficiency by manipulating feed ingredients or feeding feed additives. He is utilizing an in vitro system that is a simulation technique of ruminant stomachs (rumen) to evaluate feeds and feed additives in the lab on a small scale, before animal experiments. At the beef and dairy research facilities located at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), his team is currently conducting four different animal trials. They are looking at feed utilization and efficiency, production (milk production or growth), and enteric methane production from ruminants. Dr. Lee’s team is also working on lowering nutrient excretion (especially nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus) from dairy cows that may negatively impact the environment. Through diet manipulation, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur excretion in feces and urine are measured. In addition, manure from the cows is incubated in the lab to measure gas emissions (NH3, H2S, and greenhouse gases) that may cause air contamination and lower air quality. His final research project focuses on manure management as well. The team collects manure from ruminant animals to examine gas emissions to help lower environmental impacts (gas emissions, odor, etc.) by manipulating storage systems and applying manure additives.

Dr. Lee recently returned from conferences for the American Dairy Association and the American Society of Animal Science. He has numerous journal articles both published and in press. He also serves as an advisor to graduate and undergraduate students, as well as visiting scholars.

“The Department of Animal Sciences, OARDC, and OSU, have excellent research facilities including the Beef, Sheep, and Dairy Research Centers as well as a feed mill. The facilities were designed to do research, which is what I enjoy the most. In addition, the barn staff are very supportive on research projects. Finally, faculty members in our department are world-renowned in their field and support the junior faculty. So, I really enjoy working with them.”