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Department of Animal Sciences


Meet Michael Zuccaro: 2024 CFAES Distinguished Senior

April 11, 2024
2024 CFAES Distinguished Senior Award Recipients Announced

Animal Sciences student Michael Zuccaro appreciates how much he’s learned while at Ohio State, from improving communication skills to learning how to live a healthier lifestyle in order to alleviate stress. “I’ve learned to stay active, eat healthily, engage with my community, study hard, and pray,” he commented.

Among faculty in the department of Animal Sciences, Michael has been known for his ability to assimilate data and use critical thinking skills to ask insightful questions that elevated classroom discussions for all of our students.

Since entering Ohio State, Michael has focused on his dream of pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. His understanding of animals has been enhanced through classroom learning and animal sciences labs with his favorite mentor, Dr. Ana Grum. Michael notes that the hands-on experiences started nearly day-one in the department, with one of the highlights of his undergraduate career happening in his first week of classes– sticking his “arm in the rumen of a cannulated cow.” Beyond the classroom, he took advantage of an internship with the Midwest Poultry Consortium in Iowa. There, he had the opportunity to interact with professionals in egg and meat production companies while learning about nutrition, health, disease threats, and business management in the poultry industry. He made good friends, developed hands-on skills, and found he enjoyed working with poultry.

Michael completed a research project with Dr. Peter Reiser, a comparative muscle biologist in Ohio State’s College of Dentistry. During breaks, he worked in a veterinary clinic, where he gained hands-on experience with dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small animals. He assisted in surgery operations, ran blood tests, urinalyses, and learned microscopy skills.

Michael is also a sports fan. While at Ohio State, he became an intramural referee, learning the rules for basketball, flag football, soccer, softball, and volleyball. He called it a great way to “meet new people, be involved with sports at Ohio State, and learn how to manage my time in and out of the classroom.” He took advantage of all the different activities on campus outside the classroom, attending sporting events and music performances. He also maintained high academic standards and supported other students as an organic chemistry mentor.

Michael also volunteered to help children with Down’s Syndrome and autism in a program that teaches them how to ride a bike. He developed critical communication skills to describe the steps of riding in different ways in order to connect to all the children. He learned to “be encouraging and positive, always supporting the rider.” Through all of his activities, he has built communication and leadership skills with empathy. Michael embodies the CFAES mission of academics and scholarship; research and innovation; service and involvement; and influence and leadership through his many endeavors.