Dairy Spotlight: Zheng Zhou

Assistant professor in the department of animal science.

Photo of Assistant professor Zheng Zhou
Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Science, Zheng Zhou.

I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to connect with the Michigan dairy community. I started my position as an assistant professor in the department of animal science at Michigan State University in 2019 and was only able to visit a few dairy farms in Michigan before the pandemic hit. For those I have not had the opportunity to meet, I hope this serves as a temporary introduction until we get to finally meet in person.

I grew up in Wuhan (arguably the most famous city in China since 2019) and received my molecular nutrition training at Huazhong Agricultural University using monogastric animals as models. In 2012, I started working with dairy cattle during my Ph.D. training at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before I started my position here at Michigan State University, I was an assistant professor in animal sciences at Clemson University.

By training, I am an animal molecular physiologist with a broad background in animal nutrition and molecular physiology. A fundamental goal of my research program is to improve animal performance and health, and to uncover the underlying regulatory mechanisms responsible for these processes. In the past few decades, rapid advances in biotechnology have provided novel tools for the development and discovery of various strategies that improve human health and quality of life. However, in the animal science realm, we are just starting to take advantage of these new technologies. As a ruminant physiologist with a basic science background, I would like to apply these technologies to provide new solutions for practical problems related to animal health and performance in the dairy industry.

Currently, my group is utilizing these new technologies to identify and optimize nutrient supplementation that prevents or alleviates fatty liver in dairy cows. My team has also been working closely with Michael VandeHaar’s group to understand how these new approaches can improve feed efficiency in dairy cows. Apart from research, I enjoy playing basketball and raising my one-year-old son together with my wife, who also works for MSU and studies nutrition in pregnant women.

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