Current Animal Science Research

Dr. Mary Anne Amalaradjou

Dr. Amalaradjou’s current research seeks to understand pathogen survival and persistence along the food chain, their virulence attributes, and the application of probiotics to control foodborne pathogens. Her lab also studies the efficacy of currently applied hurdle technologies to reduce pathogen transmission from farm-to-fork. Beyond controlling pathogens in food systems, her research investigates the potential application of probiotics as alternatives to antibiotics in poultry production and functional foods in the prevention of gut pathologies. Dr. Amalaradjou’ s main objective is to improve food safety and promote public health

Dr. Dennis D'Amico

Dr. D’Amico’s research aims to improve the safety and quality of food with an emphasis on milk and value-added dairy products. The lab also conducts special projects in collaboration with stakeholders as part of Dr. D’Amico’s integrated extension program. Current interests are focused on identifying and optimizing natural and novel means of controlling foodborne pathogens and spoilage microbes in milk and cheese including the application of protective cultures of lactic acid bacteria and bacteriophages. His lab seeks to understand microbial population dynamics throughout the cheesemaking continuum including the role of microbial ecosystems in cheese production environments.

Dr. Breno Fragomeni

Dr. Fragomeni's research is focused on predicting animal's performance using genomic information. Additionally, he utilizes various genomic tools to study the structure of livestock populations and dissect the underlying genetics of complex and economically important traits. His lab works with a diverse number of species including cattle, fish, shrimp, pigs, and dogs. The research consists on using statistics to analyze data so that we can tell the animals to be select to be parents on future generations. Recently, the lab has been focusing in novel complex traits such as heat-stress, behavior, and disease resistance.

Dr. Kristen Govoni

Dr. Govoni’s lab is exploring growth and development at the cellular level to identify methods to improve animal health and efficiency of production. Using a sheep model, the lab is investigating the effects of poor maternal nutrition on pre- and post-natal development offspring growth (muscle, bone, and adipose tissue) and metabolic dysregulation (liver, muscle, and blood). Based on the knowledge that poor maternal nutrition impairs offspring growth, increases adipose deposition, and alters local and systemic metabolism, they are using omics approaches to identify the mechanisms of action through changes in mRNA expression, protein expression, metabolites, and epigenetic regulation.

Dr. Jenifer Nadeau

Dr. Nadeau is working to analyze the microbiome in horses with susceptibility and resistance to parasites to help aid in the development of an effective parasite control method that can improve the body condition and health of horses. Her lab is also analyzing the influence of the gut microbiome on parasitic load and blood analytes including the enumeration of leukocytes and erythrocytes; and serum biochemical parameters. Her research looks to determine if horses stay high or lower shedders throughout their lives and how their physiological state affects their parasite susceptibility.

Dr. Sarah Reed

Research in the Reed lab is focused on skeletal muscle growth and development. The lab is working to understand how poor maternal nutrition during pregnancy impacts oxidative stress and inflammation in the offspring using a sheep model. They are also investigating the effects of an anti-oxidant supplement on muscle oxidative stress during deconditioning and reconditioning in polo ponies. Other research includes determining how best to manage beef x dairy crossbred calves to improve growth. Undergraduate researchers in the Reed Lab are working to identify changes in gene expression related to muscle growth and the impacts of poor maternal diet during gestation on passive transfer in lambs.

Dr. Cindy Tian

Dr. Cindy Tian's lab engages in fundamental understanding of pre-implantation embryonic development as well as embryo-related biotechnologies for increasing farm animal production efficiency. Previously, her lab has succeeded in somatic cell nuclear transfer (animal cloning) of genetically elite animals, in vitro fertilization and cryopreservation, embryonic stem cells and genetic engineering. In recent years, her research incorporates the omics approaches to characterize the epigenetic landscape of the early bovine embryos. She also has tremendous interest in improving the in vitro maturation success of bovine oocytes and enhancing the consistency of superovulation outcomes.

Dr. Abhinav Upadhyay

Dr. Upadhyay’s current research seeks to develop effective intervention strategies for controlling foodborne pathogens by characterizing their pathophysiology and interactions with the environment and the host. Built on the principle of “farm-to-fork” food safety, the lab focuses on four broad areas including reducing pathogen colonization in food animals, controlling the persistence of foodborne pathogens in processing environment, inactivation of foodborne pathogens in high-risk meat products and produce and developing anti-virulence strategies to control foodborne pathogens in humans. Their approaches include traditional and molecular microbiology, nanotechnology, proteomics, metabolomics and Next-Gen sequencing.

Dr. Kumar Venkitanarayanan

Dr. Kumar Venkitanarayanan's lab focuses on research based on the efficacy of plant based compounds against pathogenic bacteria. His lab is looking at antibiotic resistance, the mechanism of action of phytochemicals against foodborne pathogens, and studying the normal microbiome characteristics of poultry, different virulence factors of pathogens. Their goal is to have a wholesome approach towards food safety and apply the principles of one health. Currently, he is involved on a large-scale collaborative project to improve the sustainability of the poultry industry which will promote both poultry and human health while reducing reliance on antibiotics.

Masked students in a lab. March 10, 2021. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)