Animal Science 2021 Graduate Student Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 Graduate Student awards!

Collage of awardees

2021 ANS Outstanding Ph.D. Graduate Student Award

This award recognizes a Ph.D. candidate in the department who has demonstrated all-round excellence in academic performance, research, teaching, and service and leadership. To be eligible for this award PhD students must have passed their comprehensive examinations and advanced to candidacy.

2021 Recipient: Alyssa Logan

 Alyssa Logan with her award

Alyssa is a 2nd year Ph.D. candidate studying Equine Exercise Physiology under Dr. Brian Nielsen. Her research focuses on musculoskeletal responses to exercise in young horses. Of particular interest to Alyssa is research which impacts the performance horse industry. She is currently studying the impacts of circle speed and size on animal joint and bone health. This work is of particular interest to the industry, as circular exercise is used frequently, without an understanding of the impacts to animal health.

Alyssa is deeply involved in the equine industry as a judge, competitor, and trainer. She finds importance in sharing research with the industry and has been interviewed in multiple podcasts, and her work shared in popular press articles. Alyssa also works to involve students in research in the classroom. Following her graduate career, she desires to stay in academia to continue research with performance horses, while continuing to judge and have a small training operation.  

“Alyssa Logan has been the ideal graduate student as she is extremely self-motivated and well-rounded - excelling in research, teaching, and service to the department and university.  She has made great efforts to immerse herself into the horse industry – in Michigan and beyond.  She understands the role a university should have in leading an industry and has taken great steps in becoming such a leader.  It has been a tremendous honor and pleasure to work with her!” - Dr. Brian Nielsen, major advisor

2021 ANS Outstanding M.S. Graduate Student Award

This award recognizes a M.S. student in the department who has demonstrated all-round excellence in academic performance, research, teaching, and service and leadership. To be eligible for this award M.S. students must have been enrolled for at least one year.

2021 Recipient: Thainá Minela

Thaina Minela with award

2021 ANS Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the Animal Science teaching mission. Both MS and PhD students are eligible for this award, and selection is based on faculty nominations.

2021 Recipient: Thaina Minela

Thainá Minela obtained her master’s degree in the summer 2020 under the supervision of Dr. J. Richard Pursley. Her research focused on understanding how induced luteolysis in dairy cattle affect corpora lutea characteristics and fertility. Her research provided a fresh take on fertility programs that are utilized for dairy cattle management around the world. On pair with her efforts of producing scientific results that are applicable in the industry, Thainá also extended her reach to undergraduate students. During her research studies she dedicated time and energy on training undergraduates to be proficient at the farm, but also to understand the scientific process and reproductive physiology of dairy cattle.

Thainá also took on the challenge of reinventing ANS 490 – Reproductive technologies in cattle. She worked hard on developing and writing a textbook for the discipline. The textbook covered essential topics in dairy cattle reproduction and has been shared with several other students since then. Her lessons were carefully planned to be interactive, innovative, and fun. Her teaching has helped students to think critically and apply their knowledge in real life situations.

“Thainá was highly productive during her master’s program. First and foremost, Thainá was a great citizen. She was very helpful working with other laboratory personnel on their projects and in a very tough year she took the reins on managing the reproduction laboratory. She was very deserving of both the Master’s teaching and research awards.

"In teaching, Thainá utilized very novel active learning techniques to teach reproductive management lessons to students that may or may not have had a reproductive class during their college career. One of those techniques was having small groups of students video record a topic related to reproductive management of dairy cattle. The students played their recording in the final class period and had to field questions regarding their topic. It was quite a hit with the students. Not only did they learn something about reproduction, it also provided a significant amount of camaraderie amongst students. Thainá also developed her own resource textbook that she used for her class.

"Also, Thainá was very active training numerous undergraduate as well as other graduate students and interns in tasks related to her research. In this regard, she assisted in mentoring n=12 students that either completed ANS490, 492, or 493 classes or were paid an hourly wage.

"Regarding research, Thainá completed her thesis that included utilizing > 1000 dairy cows and heifers. She collected data seven days a week during some relatively warm weather and also during more than one polar vortex. She is an expert utilizing color Doppler ultrasonography to collect reproductive data. In fact, she had more than 8000 images to measure during her thesis program. It has been a pleasure to have a student like Thainá Minela. Thainá Minela is clearly on the road to becoming an outstanding animal scientist.” - Dr. Richard Pursley, major advisor

2021 ANS Outstanding Graduate Student Service and Leadership Award

This award recognizes outstanding contributions by a graduate student to the department, animal science profession, animal industry and/or broader community through their service and leadership activities. Both M.S. and Ph.D. students are eligible for this award, and selection is based on nominations from the Animal Science department community.

 2021 Recipient: Quinn Kolar

Quinn Kolar with award

Quinn is a third-year Ph.D. student working with Dr. Pamela Ruegg. Quinn's research focuses on evaluating antimicrobial therapy and non-pharmacological alternatives for the treatment of mastitis in dairy cattle. In her three years at MSU, Quinn has gotten involved in various departmental activities including serving as the President of the Animal Science Graduate Student Association (2020-2021) and as Treasurer (2019-2020). In the past year, Quinn has also been the graduate student representative on the Departmental Advisory Council and the Safety and Health Committee. In her free time, Quinn volunteers as the Chapter Advisor for Sigma Alpha, a professional agriculture sorority, and for Skype a Scientist.  

“Quinn is the ideal recipient of this award as she has a natural desire to make a difference in her community and engages in service on multiple levels. During her time at MSU, she has become a leader in the graduate student community, has actively worked to promote and communicate science to future students, mentored undergrads and served as an advisor to a MSU student organization. These are just a few of the activities that she has participated in while she has been conducting, analyzing and writing up research trials that form the basis of her Ph.D. Her high energy level, curiosity and willingness to step up when needed will serve her well in all of her future endeavors.” - Dr. Pamela Ruegg, major advisor

2021 Jacob A. Hoefer Endowed Fellowship in Animal Science

This competition encourages Ph.D. candidates in the department to prepare for future employment through mock job applications and interviews. To be eligible for this award PhD students must have passed their comprehensive examinations and advanced to candidacy.

 2021 Recipient: Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal with award

Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal is a Ph.D. candidate working with Dr. Asgerally Fazleabas. Ariadna’s research is focused on the study of specific hallmarks of endometriosis, particularly on how specific signaling molecules can promote an inflammatory environment, which alters tissue function. Her research has relevance to other diseases, such as endometritis, a major cause of infertility in dairy cattle. In addition to her research, Ariadna is pursuing the Michigan State University Certification Teaching Program. After she completes her graduate program, she would like to pursue her passion of a teaching career in higher education as a university faculty member.

“Maria Ariadna Ochoa Bernal (or Ari as she is known to everyone) is a very friendly and interactive person who works exceptionally well in a collaborative environment. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and has a positive attitude towards her research and sets high goals for herself. Her enthusiasm in the laboratory and at lab meetings is infectious and she is always willing to learn and improve. She reads extensively and uses the knowledge she gains to plan out her studies and develop well thought out experimental paradigms.  

"She is an  exceptional graduate student who is willing to be involved with activities beyond her own doctoral studies. She has served as a trainee member on the Diversity Committee of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, has honed her teaching skills by participating in the MSU Teaching Certification Program and done her practical training by teaching classes at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. In addition, she has worked with collaborators in Bioengineering and the Precision Health Program to expand and incorporate novel approaches to research projects in our laboratory which should lead to a number of novel publications.” - Dr. Asgi T. Fazleabas, major professor

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