Animal Science teaching assistant receives CANR Graduate Student Teaching Award

Thainá Minela to receive 2023 CANR Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Thainá Minela

Thainá Minela, a Ph.D. student in the Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Animal Science, will receive the 2023 College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Graduate Student Teaching Award on May 11.

The CANR Graduate Student Teaching Award recognizes graduate students for their exceptional teaching skills, implementation of innovative techniques and their contributions to undergraduate programs and impact on students' careers and colleagues' teaching/advising practices.

Minela became interested in teaching while watching her mother, a teacher, and her father, a rural educator. Her education focused on reproductive physiology and management of dairy cattle. She hopes to help her students assimilate the biological nuances of reproduction, but also to understand their social role of offering technical support and information to farmers and consumers. She is devoted to providing an interactive, respectful and creative experience in the classroom. Her teaching pedagogy has grounds in values such as revolution, pride, opportunity, creativity and aspirations.

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.

Minela 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.

"In teaching, Minela 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. Minela also developed her own resource textbook that she used for her class.”

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