Animal Science Graduate Student Awards

Congratulations to our ANS Graduate Student Award recipients for 2019-20!

L to R: Abby Pritchard, Enhong Liu, Alyssa Logan, Julie Opgenorth

“Recognizing our outstanding graduate students is a highlight of our academic year. Animal Science has an exceptional group of graduate students and this year’s awardees exemplify this excellence.” -Cathy Ernst, ANS Associate Chair for Graduate Training and Research

Traditionally, student awards are given out in conjunction with a faculty meeting, but given the current situation, the presentation has been moved online. Even though the ceremony won’t be possible this year, it’s not about the pomp but about recognizing exceptional work and dedication shown by these graduate students. Send them a note of congratulations as you can.

Below are the 2019-20 award recipients. Julie has moved out of state; her award will be mailed to her.

Jacob A. Hoefer Endowed Fellowship in Animal Science – Enhong Liu


Enhong Liu is a PhD candidate working with Dr. Mike VandeHaar, Enhong’s PhD work focuses on setting the groundwork for improving protein efficiency in lactating dairy cows. Enhong‘s career goals are to connect science and business, and help facilitate international collaborations. During his PhD training, Enhong was awarded the PAS (Professional Animal Scientist) title in 2016, 2 MAAA (Michigan Alliance for Animal Agriculture) funding in 2017, the dissertation completion fellowship in 2019, and the PMP (Project Management Professionals) title in 2019. Enhong received his dream offer from New Hope, the No.1 China Agricultural company, and will move to Boston after graduation to start a new chapter in his life.

"Enhong is bright, organized, hard-working, and dependable, but the thing that sets him apart is his attitude.  He treats everyone with respect, makes the most of every opportunity,  and is constantly improving himself.  It has been a pleasure to watch him develop as a scientist over the past 6 years." -Mike VandeHaar, advisor

Outstanding PhD Student – Abby Pritchard


Abby Pritchard is a Ph.D. candidate studying under Dr. Brian Nielsen with a research focus in equine exercise physiology and nutrition as it relates to bone. Her first year at MSU was spent as a graduate teaching assistant, and this experience and her dedication to teaching earned her the 2019 Animal Science Outstanding Graduate Teaching award. Her research has examined the effects of furosemide use on calcium balance in horses and bioavailable silicon supplementation in mature horses and immature broilers. She has also collaborated with a lab in the Kinesiology department and authored papers on cardiorespiratory responses in arena polo players and early life undernutrition effects on bone in later life. Abby is President of the Animal Science Graduate Student Association for 2019-2020, and also actively plays polo with the MSU Polo Club.

“What makes Abby Pritchard a truly exceptional graduate student is her willingness to be involved with activities beyond her own doctoral studies.  She has served as the President of the Animal Science Graduate Student Association, has contributed greatly to the teaching program, has worked with a human kinesiology lab, and has been involved with a number of research projects in our own lab – resulting in a number of publications.  As she prepares to leave MSU, it is clear she will have left a mark of excellence!” -Brian Nielsen, advisor

Outstanding MS Student – Julie Opgenorth

Julie Opgenorth and award plaque

I worked with Dr. Mike VandeHaar studying dairy cattle nutrition. My research focused on supplementing omega-3 fatty acids to newborn calves to potentially enhance calf health by attenuating oxidative stress and inflammatory markers. I had many great experiences at MSU with opportunities to collaborate with several labs and conduct research on both university and commercial farms. I graduated with my MS in December and started a PhD program at Iowa State with Dr. Lance Baumgard that will emphasize research in immune activation and metabolism in dairy cows. 

"Julie is a positive can-do person who has high goals for herself.  She loves to learn, she reads the scientific literature, and she thinks critically about how things work.  She is on her way to becoming an outstanding scientist." -Mike VandeHaar, advisor

Teaching – Alyssa Logan

Alyssa Logan

Alyssa Logan is a 1st year Ph.D. student studying Equine Exercise Physiology under Dr. Brian Nielsen. Her graduate research focuses on musculoskeletal responses to exercise in young horses. She strives to share her research and passion for science by teaching a variety of courses. She has served as a Teaching Assistant for ANS 110, ANS 141L, ANS 245, ANS 442, ANS 445, and has had the opportunity to assist in labs at the College of Veterinary Medicine. She often brings together teaching and research by involving students in sample collections and animal handling. Following her graduate career, she desires to stay in academia to continue research in Equine Exercise Physiology and teach Animal Science courses.

“Alyssa Logan has a passion for teaching that has been evident since her arrival at MSU!  Even though until this academic school year she had never be[en] on a teaching assistantship or been remunerated for her efforts, she has shown great dedication to teaching by being involved in assisting with a number of classes.  Students that have worked with her love her commitment to education and she continually strives to be the best educator possible – all of which makes her extremely worthy of this teaching award!” -Brian Nielsen, advisor

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