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Department of Animal Sciences


Dr. Sandra (Sandy) Velleman retires following three decades of industry leadership

March 27, 2024

Dr. Sandra (Sandy) Velleman will retire from her role in the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University in March of 2024, following thirty years of service to our students, faculty, and the Ohio community at large. Velleman  has been a pioneer in Avian muscle biology and an asset to our department and students over the years.

Dr.  Velleman started her undergraduate career like many in animal sciences– eager to attend veterinary school. However, a cell biology class she took as a sophomore quickly changed the trajectory of her career. Soon, she found herself participating in undergraduate research, studying muscle cell recognition in chickens, and defending her first thesis on the topic in 1981­– before she completed her undergraduate studies.

Following her graduation from Boston University with a degree in Biology, she went directly into her PhD program at the University of Connecticut under Dr. Paul GoeSandy and guests enjoy the celebration.tinck. It was during her time in Connecticut when Velleman began to create her own niche in the field of muscle biology by discovering that muscle cells in poultry produce an extracellular matrix, a finding that went against all scientific dogma at the time. From her PhD program, she continued onto the University of Pennsylvania for the National Institute of Health (NIH) postdoctoral trainee program. She worked extensively with children with connective tissue disorders before returning to Connecticut and further exploring limb development in chickens.

Velleman has spent much of her career studying satellite cells (muscle stem cells). She joined the faculty at The Ohio State University following her time in Connecticut and worked closely with Dr. Carl Nester. Conversations between the east coast natives often ranged from the score of a Yankees v. Red Sox game to critical studies of poultry maternal inheritance. One of Vellemans’s largest contributions to the field of avian physiology is the surprise discovery that breast muscle physiology in turkeys is maternally inherited. This discovery changed the way poultry producers around the world selected their birds, focusing on breast muscle attributes just as much as egg laying in hens.

Today, Velleman has spent over 45 years in research, and thirty of those have been as a Buckeye. She has impacted the lives of hundreds of students in her advising and teaching roles. Velleman notes that she views life as chapters, and she is excited to see what the next one will hold. While she still serves as the Editor in Chief of Frontiers in Avian physiology, in which Velleman has led a treatise of Women in Avian Physiology that is the 3rd most viewed and downloaded topic for the journal, she will be spending her retirement showing and training her Shelties– Turner, Ray, and Journey– and spending plenty of time on the water kayaking.

Please join us in thanking CFAES Distinguished Professor, Dr. Sandy Velleman, for her contributions to the college, department, and community in her over thirty years at The Ohio State University.