Alumni Newsletter : Alumni Newsletter - Summer 2018

  1. Save the Date!

    Here are some of the upcoming Animal Sciences events:

    • Farm Science Review
      • September 18, 19, & 20th
      • 8:00am to 5:00pm on the 18th & 19th, 8:00am-4:00pm on the 20th
      • Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio
      • For tickets and more information, click here
    • Introduction to HACCP Principles for Meat and Poultry Processors
      • October 11 & 12, 2018
      • 8:00am-7:00pm on the 11th; 8:00am-4:00pm on the 12th
      • University of Illinois, Meat Science Laboratory, 1503 S Maryland Dr., Urbana, IL 61801
      • For more information and to register, click here
    • Little International
      • Saturday, October 20, 2018 starting at 8:00am
      • OSU Barns located at 3658 Kays Avenue, Dublin, OH
      • Free
    • Meat & Poultry Product Labeling Short Course
      • October 23-24, 2018 8:30am - 5:00pm each day
      • Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Dr. Columbus, OH, 43201
      • For more information and to register, click here
  2. An Evening with Jack Hanna and the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

    Join us for an enjoyable evening featuring Jack Hanna and animals from the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium! The evening includes an introduction to the Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE), a plated dinner, and of course, a presentation by Jack featuring animals from the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. A cash bar will also be available. This is a fundraising event for CHAIRE and seats are limited!

    The event will take place on Friday, September 14 from 5:30-8:00pm in the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center. Tickets are $150 per person or $1,000 per 8-person table. Tickets can be purchased here.

    For more information, please contact Dr. Kelly George by phone 614-688-3224 or email

  3. Career Resources Available for Alumni

    Alumni Resources

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  4. The Department of Animal Sciences Welcomes New Faculty Members Wenner and Enger

    (L. to R.) Dr. Benjamin Wenner and Dr. Benjamin Enger

    The Department of Animal Sciences welcomed two new assistant professors to the department, Dr. Benjamin Wenner and Dr. Benjamin Enger.

    Dr. Benjamin Wenner

    Dr. Benjamin Wenner returns to the Department of Animal Sciences in autumn 2018 as an assistant professor. His early involvement in 4-H has led to a career in animal nutrition research and education.

    Dr. Benjamin Wenner as a 4-H competitorWenner originally lived in Powell, OH before moving to Michigan. After a few years in Michigan, his family returned to the family farm when he was in third grade. The return to Delaware County would serve as the foundation for his interest in animal sciences.

    “We loved nature, but us kids had never owned a pet, never farmed an acre, and were generally ignorant about agriculture. My grandpa took my older brother out for the day and came home with a steer in a trailer. Now what were we going to do?” said Wenner. “We enrolled in 4-H so that my brother could learn to show this steer at the county fair and I tagged along with a couple of rabbits. The rest is really history, as they say.”

    Wenner would remain active in 4-H throughout his childhood, showing cattle, sheep, and rabbits. “I’m thankful every day that Grandpa forced our hand on this when they bought that steer and I ended up working in this field,” said Wenner.

    Wenner pursued his interest in animals and agriculture at Michigan State University (as an Alumni Distinguished Scholar) and earned his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a specialization in agribusiness management. He returned home to central Ohio to pursue both his M.S. and Ph.D. at The Ohio State University. He earned his Master of Science in Animal Sciences under the direction of Dr. Steven Moeller, studying swine management. He completed his Ph.D. in the Ohio State Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Nutrition (OSUN) under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Firkins.

    “My Ph.D. research utilized dual-flow continuous culture fermenters to simulate the rumen of a dairy cow in a lab setting,” said Wenner. “We redesigned the units and over the past few years I’ve Dr. Benjamin Wennerbecome a bit of a go-to expert on these updated units.”

    After completing his Ph.D., he worked in technical service support for Perdue AgriBusiness in the dairy industry, building a private R&D laboratory and training the staff to operate it autonomously. “I’ve been privileged to speak at 3 regional conferences in the past couple years on dairy nutrition topics and this summer was a guest nutrition instructor at the Southwest Dairy Consortium.”

    Wenner’s return to the Department of Animal Sciences is in a teaching appointment. However, he hopes to continue his research in the improvement of the accuracy and ease of feed analytics through the summer months.

    “Within animal nutrition, we rely heavily on the information we get back from laboratories or academic institutions; but the processes that we use to determine this information can sometimes be complicated and susceptible to unknown errors,” said Wenner. “We need to better describe this variation to the people making decisions with the data or designing the next generation of research projects. Improving the accuracy of feed assays will help livestock producers make more educated decisions and improve the quality of research data.”

    Wenner also completed research on estimating the microbial biomass of protozoa from the rumen and intends to continue work in this area. “Protozoa can contribute a substantial proportion of the microbial biomass in the rumen under certain feeding conditions; but they are difficult to culture independently from their bacterial counterparts so we have limited knowledge of how conditions around them affect their growth, activity, and influence on the health and productivity of the ruminant mammal,” said Wenner. “New methods for analyzing protozoal volume based on live video capture has opened up a new avenue to study how treatments affect protozoa and we are unique in our ability to perform this research with the availability of single species protozoal cultures.”

    When not busy with research or teaching, Wenner spends time with his wife, Amanda, and their two daughters, Hannah and Emme. The Wenners continue to be active 4-H volunteers at the club, county and state levels.

    “We have a small flock of sheep, host summer long sheep 4-H projects at our house, have a dog, Betsy, and I serve on the board of directors for the Delaware County Fair,” said Wenner. “Beyond 4-H, the other organization we are very actively involved in is Pelotonia. I started riding as a graduate student in 2010 and we’ve both been riding and raising money for cancer research ever since. Both organizations are close to our hearts as we seek opportunities to give back to our community.”

    Dr. Benjamin Enger

    Dr. Benjamin Enger joins the Department of Animal Sciences in autumn 2018 as an assistant professor. His research focuses on the less explored areas of mastitis and mammary physiology.

    Dr. Benjamin Enger showing a cowEnger grew up in the Northwest, spending most of his youth in Montana and Idaho . The son of teachers, he was involved in 4-H and FFA during middle and high school where he raised swine and participated in career development events at the state and national level. It was while pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Science at the University of Idaho that he began to shape his future.

    “I enjoyed biology/physiology, especially from a medical standpoint. When that came together with working with animals, it made sense,” said Enger. “Throughout my time as undergraduate I did a lot of work in meat science, but when I was introduced to dairy science I never looked back. I just really enjoy the intricacies of the dairy system.”

    Enger would begin to hone his interest in mastitis and mammary physiology while pursuing his graduate studies. He earned his Master of Science in Animal Science at Washington State University and his Ph.D. in Dairy Science at Virginia Tech.

    While at The Ohio State University, Enger will continue research in mastitis with a focus on its consequences and effects on the mammary gland.

    “The dairy industry has improved its control in lactating dairy cows but mastitis also affects non-lactating dairy animals. Non-lactating glands, although not producing milk, are not quiescent and are growing to prepare for the onset of lactation,” said Enger.  “One of my research areas focuses on how mastitis affects mammary gland growth and development. This is especially important because heifers, which have never lactated, may already have an infection in their gland and have diminished mammary growth.”

    Mastitis is the most common and costly disease in the dairy industry. Financial losses are incurred from the discarding of milk and losses in milk yield. Enger hopes to lessen this impact on the dairy industry.

    “I am always interested in mastitis in the lactating dairy cow and continue to research ways to reduce its impacts and occurrence in lactating dairy cows as this is when the milk crop is being directly Lab technician Cathy Parsons, Dr. Benjamin Enger, and Dr. Mike Akers (Dr. Enger's PhD advisor) at Virginia Techimpacted,” said Enger.

    Enger also conducts research on mammary vasculature, which has not had a lot of exploration in dairy cattle.

    “Another area of my research focuses on how blood vessels in the bovine mammary gland develop. This is important because blood delivers all the nutrients needed to produce milk in the mammary gland,” said Enger. “Consequently, improved blood supply is suspected to improve milk production.” 

    Enger’s research has already resulted in career success. He was a USDA predoctoral fellowship recipient, which awarded $95,000 of funding for a stipend and research; this award just concluded. He currently has two grants in review by the USDA for funding. Enger also has two papers in review with the Journal of Dairy Science and one that he is preparing for submission. He will likely attend two discipline specific conferences in the next five months. 

    Ben and his wife of nine years, Kellie, now reside in the Wooster area. Enger will work on the Ohio State OARDC campus. The Wooster facilities were part of his attraction to Ohio State.

    “I decided to peruse this position given the department’s outstanding history of mastitis and mammary physiology research.  The location of the dairy farm also was appealing to me since my previous institutions had dairies located off campus.  The space of the laboratory and the enthusiasm of the faculty that I would work with was also attractive,” said Enger.

  5. Garcia Provides Mini-Beef 509 Class for Young Cattlemen's Conference

    Dr. Lyda G. Garcia, assistant professor of Meat Science in the Department of Animal Sciences, provided a Mini-Beef 509 class for the 2018 Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC). Garcia provided hands-on learning on how meat is graded, fabrication of wholesale and retail cuts, and other issues that can affect beef quality and pricing. Participants also viewed champion carcasses from the 2018 Ohio State Fair.

    “This particular program is very exciting for me. This is my opportunity to share the impacts of livestock production practices on the carcass and meat cuts, which impact the overall economic value based on quality characteristics. This is a common missing point,” said Garcia.

    Dr. Lyda G. GarciaThe 2018 Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation YCC hosted 20 cattlemen and women for a 3-day leadership development program in Columbus and the central Ohio areas, Aug. 9-11. The conference was made possible by Farm Credit Mid-America, Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn Marketing and the Rick Malir & Bonnie Coley-Malir Beef Leadership Fund.

    The purpose of the YCC is to offer emerging Ohio beef industry leaders and young producers the opportunity to build their own leadership skills as they network with beef industry leaders, government officials, businesses and media. Young beef producers interested in attending the 2019 YCC should contact the Ohio Cattlemen’s Foundation at 614-873-6736 or email

  6. Ezeji Awarded NSF Grant

    Dr. Thaddeus Ezeji, associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, has been awarded a continuing grant by the National Science Foundation. The $95,779.00 grant is for Ezeji's work as primary investigator on "Developing second-generation hyper-producers of butanol from biomass by activating dormant pathways." The abstract for the grant is below.

    Renewable production of fuels and chemicals is growing. One strategy involves producing fuels and chemicals using microbes. Unfortunately, these chemicals often exert toxic effects on microorganisms at high concentrations. Butanol is one example of this. It has excellent properties as a transportation fuel. At high concentrations, it poisons the microbes that produce it. The central goal of the project is to enhance the ability of butanol-producing bacteria to withstand high concentrations of butanol. Undergraduate and graduate students will receive hands-on research training and mentorship. International outreach will focus on delivering a course on biofuels production in Nigeria. These experiences should prepare the students for successful careers in a global workforce.

    A major challenge for bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysates (LBH) stems from the toxicity posed by microbial inhibitory compounds (MICs) generated during metabolic processing of LBH. The long-term objective is to develop a rational approach for engineering inhibitory compound tolerance in Clostridium beijerinckii. A two-pronged strategy will be pursued. Interdependent utilization of two different waste products, glycerol and LBH, for improved solvent generation in the presence of MICs will be characterized. Also, DNA repair competence of C. beijerinckii will be increased. We hypothesize that cellular reductants [NAD(P)H] needed for detoxification of MICs and for butanol synthesis can be generated by activating a dormant pentose phosphate pathway coupled with glycerol utilization. This proposal seeks to repurpose existing pathways in C. beijerinckii to overcome metabolic hurdles. By combining metabolic engineering and reverse genetics, the project aims to uncover new determinants for butanol production by C. beijerinckii, and generate a broader framework for better microbial conversion of renewable feedstock to fuels and chemicals.


  7. Bielke and Clark Receive Awards at the Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting

    Drs. Lisa Bielke and Daniel Clark, assistant professors in the Department of Animal Sciences, earned awards at the Poultry Science Association (PSA) Annual Meeting. Bielke received the 2018 Novus Outstanding Scholar award; Clark received the Hy-Line International Research Award.

    The Novus Outstanding Scholar award is given to an individual who serves as an exemplary scholar in her area of expertise who has made significant contributions to the industry through her work. The selection is organized by Novus’s industry-leading research and development and technical service teams. Bielke focuses her current research on poultry health with emphasis on enteric diseases and the ante mortem control of food pathogens, including projects developing vaccine technologies, probiotics and creating tools and assays to better assess gastrointestinal challenges.

    The Hy-Line International Research Award is given to a member of the PSA who in the preceding five calendar years has, as sole or senior author, published outstanding research. To be eligible for this award, nominees must have received their final academic degree within the 10 years prior to the granting of the award. Clark's research focuses on muscle growth and meat quality. This includes his research with Dr. Sandra Velleman on the poultry muscle defect called wooden breast.

    The 2018 Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting was held July 23-26 in San Antonio, Texas.

    Dr. Lisa BielkeDr. Daniel Clark

  8. Pairis-Garcia Earns AFRI Grant

    Dr. Monique Pairis-Garcia, assistant professor, received a $497,500 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant. She is the primary investigator for the project “Timely On-Farm Euthanasia of Cattle: Exploring Caretaker Decision-Making and Training Methods.”

    “We are not conducting a traditional experiment with a treatment and a control group but working directly with producers to identify the challenges that are occurring on-farm in regards to euthanasia,” said Pairis-Garcia. “In addition, we are developing training tools [educational materials] to help both new and experienced caretakers make the best decisions for the cow.”

    The grant falls under the AFRI’s “Animal Well-Being” program area. Dr. Kathryn Proudfoot (Department of Veterinary Preventative Medicine), Dr. Alia Dietsch (School of Environmental & Natural Resources), and Dr. Jan Shearer (Iowa State University, College of Veterinary Medicine) join Pairis-Garcia on the project.

    Below is Pairis-Garcia’s summary for the project.

    Since 1999, more than 20 undercover videos have been taken in commercial dairy facilities throughout the United States. Undercover videos are a tool utilized by animal activist groups to disparage modern agricultural practices and expose cases of abuse and neglect. Although most of what is presented on these videos are taken out of context, one area of concern to the industry is the identification of compromised animals that failed to receive appropriate treatment and require euthanasia. This issue is not unique to the dairy industry, and in fact, there has been much public scrutiny on the methods, performance and decision-making process of euthanasia in the entire livestock industry.  Euthanasia is a necessary act for any operation keeping live animals and the euthanasia method used should be humane, practical, economical, and socially acceptable. Currently, information is deficient for training employees on timely and humane euthanasia decisions that are standard across the dairy industry. This proposed project will benefit dairy producers by identifying quantitative and qualitative decision criteria for on-farm euthanasia of dairy cattle through use of a national survey. In addition, identifying barriers to euthanasia on-farm will be addressed utilizing focus groups in Spanish and English and include assessing the effect of caretaker training, farm culture and attitudes on the euthanasia decision making process. Lastly, this project will culminate with the development of an innovative and interactive educational tool for on-farm euthanasia of dairy cattle. This proposal directly meets the methods of humane slaughter or on-farm euthanasia program area priority

  9. Faculty, Students, and Alumni Attend the Reciprocal Meats Conference

    Faculty, students, and alumni from the Department of Animal Sciences participated in the American Meat Science Association's Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC). The conference was held June 24-27, 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information on the conference, click here.

    Front row: Dennis Seman, DL Seman Consulting, Cottage Grove, WI; Sierra Jepsen, U. of Wyoming; Hailey Schumacher, OSU; Rachel Capouya, OSU Plant Pathology: Katy (Shircliff) Wolff, Cargill; Brandon Klehm, U. of Illinois Back row (L-R): Lynn Knipe, OSU; Martin Overholt, Seaboard-Triumph Foods, Sioux City, IA; Ben Bohr, U. of Guelph; Bruce Armstrong, LifeSpice, Chicago, Bob Campbell, MPSC, Inc. Hudson, WI; Daniel Clark, OSU; Savannah Forgey, Texas Tech University, TX

    L-R: Carrie Thomas, Smithfield Foods, Kansas City, MO; Dennis Seman, DL Seman Consulting, Cottage Grove, WI; Bob Campbell, MPSC, Inc, Hudson, WI; Ed Mills, Penn State University, Lynn Knipe, OSU

    L-R: Morgan Foster, OSU and Andrea Garmyn, Texas Tech

  10. Department and Ohio Pork Council Host 'Pork 509'

    The Department of Animal Sciences and the Ohio Pork Council joined to host ‘Pork 509’ - a pork quality seminar. Attendees from allied industries, swine producers, pork finishers, and undergraduates learned about swine welfare, genetics, nutrition, meat quality and processing characteristics.

    “We were really trying to raise awareness of all of the factors that can influence the variations of quality,” said Professor and Swine Extension Specialist Dr. Steve Moeller.  “Consumers are a lot more sophisticated and demand a higher-quality, value product.”

    Participating faculty members provided information about their areas of expertise. Dr. Eric England, assistant professor, discussed nutrition and techniques for acDr. Steve Moeller discusses pork assessment hieving objective quality measurements. “We really want to find ways to take the human element out of quality measurements by providing standardized systems,” said England. “Standardization maximizes quality and cost efficiency for both the consumer and the various companies involved with pork production.”

    Assistant Professors Drs. Lyda Garcia and Monique Pairis-Garcia collaborated to discuss animal welfare. Pairis-Garcia addressed animal welfare from a management practices perspective. “Producers need to be aware that everything they do from the farm, transportation, to the finishing plant has an impact on meat quality,” said Pairis-Garcia. “Also consumers really do care about the treatment of animals. They are more likely to support producers that put forth the effort to treat animals correctly. So, animal welfare is really a win-win for everyone.”Dr. Lyda Garcia with graduate student Jennifer Swonger

    Garcia also discussed the impact of animal welfare on meat quality. “Whether it’s proper nutrition or animal handling, animal welfare shows through in the end product. It’s easier for us to sell a product if the animal has been properly cared for.”

    Garcia also addressed issues of carcass evaluation and meat quality assessment. She used teaching techniques that she has honed providing real-world experience to the Ohio State Meat Judging Team. Garcia believes that understanding the measurements used by the USDA are important to every level of the meat industry. “They have to understand what the USDA is looking for in grading meat. How can they achieve quality if they don’t know what it looks like?”

    Participants practice grading pork qualityThe Pork 509 was a collaboration between the Ohio Pork Council and the meat and swine science team. In addition to faculty collaboration for seminar content, the Ohio State Meat Shoppe (Manager Ron Cramer and Assistant Manager Ethan Scheffler) opened its door to help with meat fabrication, preparation, and cooking for samples and meals.

    “This was really a team effort. We really want to raise the visibility of the swine industry. But we also want to show all of the research and outreach that everyone on the meat and swine science teams do,” said Moeller.

  11. Alumna Uren Wins First Place at ADSA

    Recent Animal Sciences graduate Jaime Uren won first place at the American Dairy Science Association – Student Affiliate Division (ADSA-SAD) annual meeting, in the Undergraduate Production Oral Presentation Competition. Uren, from Dexter, Michigan presented a paper inspired by her Honors research project entitled, “Environmental Enrichment in Dairy Cows and Calves.” Her Honors project advisor was Dr. Maurice Eastridge.

    Uren submitted a literature review examining the use of enrichment tools (rotating, mechanical brushes) for scratching purposes, and their impact on dairy cattle well-being. “The research on environmental enrichment is broader for dairy calves and there is less in-field use of mechanical brushes for calves, but I'm excited to see what the future holds in the area of dairy calf enrichment,” said Uren.

    Animal enrichment is useful for increasing consumer support of the dairy industry and has positive animal health and welfare implications. “Providing cows and calves with valuable environmental enrichment allows producers to state that they are doing everything they can to maintain good animal welfare on-farm,” said Uren. “Additionally, research has indicated that analyzing cow behavior around a mechanical brush may be a convenient tool to monitor dairy cow welfare and health. This would be a major benefit to producers as well.”

    Animal welfare and behavior are important research areas for Uren. She is continuing her research in those areas at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

  12. Korenyi-Both Awarded Alumni Association Scholarship

    Jack Korenyi-Both, a junior in the Department of Animal Sciences from Hubbard, Ohio, was one of 13 students awarded a scholarship from The Ohio State University Alumni Association. The Ohio State University Alumni Association, Inc. Scholarship Endowment Fund provides undergraduate scholarships to currently enrolled students at any of The Ohio State University campuses, not receiving freshman-recruiting scholarships (i.e. Maximus and Morrill Programs), with preference given based on academic performance and financial need.

    “It is great to see how supportive our alumni network is here at Ohio State. The Ohio State Alumni Association Scholarship Fund supports many students year to year, allowing students like me to continue attending Ohio State,” said Korenyi-Both, “ This generosity and effort is something that I will absolutely pay forward when it is my turn to support. “

    Out of over 500 applicants, 359 were eligible for the scholarships. “I had 22 teams of jurors (using Volunteer Match), 3 per team, read approximately 10 applications.  All had a score sheet.  They read, scored and sent back their score sheets to me,” said Leslie Smith, stewardship coordinator for the Alumni Scholars Program.  “I added up the scores and then the staff steering committee for the scholarship made some final decisions.  We decided on 13 students.”

    Students receiving the scholarship are eligible to apply each year of their enrollment. However, they are subject to the same rigorous standards each year they apply; prior receipt does not guarantee future award of the scholarship.

    Korenyi-Both, after earning his undergraduate degree in 2020, plans to attend graduate or professional school at Ohio State.

    “I will always remember where it is that I was educated and given opportunities like this scholarship. I will always hold Ohio State close to my heart and help the next generation succeed with my time and talents as a graduate of The Ohio State University.”

    For more information on how alumni can "pay forward," please click here.