ANSC Annual Graduate Student Awards Luncheon
May 23, 2003

The following W.R. Featherston Awards awards were presented at the Graduate Student Luncheon, May 23, 2003.

The W.R. Featherston Awards were established to recognize the outstanding achievements of graduate students in the Department of Animal Sciences. These awards were established in honor of the leadership and dedication to graduate students exhibited by Professor W.R. Featherston. Professor Featherston was on the staff from July 1962 to June 3,1980, the date of his untimely death. Professor Featherston's teaching and research activities were a source of guidance, encouragement and inspiration to the graduate students.

Awards Selection Committee: Todd Applegate, Heng-wei Cheng, Shawn Donkin, Diane Moody, and Mike Spurlock. Ad hoc included Mickey Latour and Scott Radcliffe. Awards were presented by Dave Gerrard, chairman of the Graduate Committee.


The Featherston Off-campus Training Fellowship was established in memory of Professor W.R. Featherston to annually provide financial support for an M.S. or Ph.D. degree student in the Department of Animal Sciences to attend a formal career development training program, organized workshop, or course off campus. The recipient(s) will be given a check for reimbursement of the expenses, certificate of award, individual plaque and her/his name will be added to the permanent plaque maintained within the department. This year the Awards Committee has selected two students for this award.

Tara McDaneld receiving the award from Dr. Dave Gerrard
Tara G. McDaneld

Tara is currently pursuing her Ph.D. degree in Animal Sciences under the direction of Dr. Diane Moody. She joined the ANSC Graduate Program at Purdue in the spring of 2001 following completion of her BS from Kansas State University and MS from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Tara will be taking a course (June 11 – 17th) entitled "Genome Sequence Analysis: Theory and Practice" being conducted by The Jackson Laboratory, located in Bar Harbor, Maine. This course will cover areas of bioinformatics including the analysis of genomic sequence to identify features of biological significance and the annotation of functional genes.

Dr. Moody indicates, "the skills learned will be valuable to Tara as she continues to investigate the function of a novel gene potentially involved in muscle growth. They will also be useful in future research projects that require the analysis of DNA protein sequence. By completing the course, Tara will serve as a resource person who is familiar with the latest bioinformatics tools available. ... By attending this course off-campus, Tara will have the opportunity to meet and interact with scientists with a range of backgrounds and research interests. This environment will likely challenge her to broaden her thinking and potentially establish contacts for current or future research projects."

Tara's award includes up to $2000 in reimbursements.

Liz Williams receiving the award from Dr. Dave Gerrard
Elizabeth (Liz) Williams

Liz is currently pursuing her M.S. degree under the direction of Dr. Shawn Donkin. Liz received her B.S. in Animal Biosciences from Pennsylvania State University in 2002 and entered the graduate program in Animal Sciences in August 2002. She expects to complete her M.S., summer 2004.

Liz will travel to Ames, Iowa (May 31 until June 7) and work with Dr. Don Beitz's group at Iowa State University, as well as with Dr. Ron Horst and Dr. Jesse Goff at the National Animal Disease Center (NADC). Liz desires these funds for three primary reasons, first, she will be able to collect and process liver biopsy samples from cows specifically treated to develop fatty liver using a protocol developed by the Iowa group. Second, spending time in their lab will provide Liz with the opportunity to determine the potential for establishing acute phase protein in the Donkin laboratory to complement their ongoing efforts. Third, the Iowa State group has developed an ultrasound method for measuring fatty liver. Establishing this technique at Purdue would broaden the scope of the Donkin research objectives to identify cows that exhibit fatty liver in a typical production setting which will enable additional research opportunities on risks, progression, and remediation of this costly condition in the dairy industry.

Dr. Donkin indicates, "although this is not a "course" per se, it does represent a tremendous learning opportunity for Liz. She will be guided for a week by some of the leading authorities in the world on the biology of fatty liver and related diseases in transition dairy cows and given the opportunity to acquire specific skills that cannot be obtained in at Purdue."

Liz's award includes up to $1062 in reimbursements.


The Featherston Early Graduate Career Award was established in memory of Professor W.R. Featherston to annually recognize the outstanding M.S. or Ph.D. student within his/her first two years of graduate study. The award consists of $650, plus a certificate of award, individual plaque and her/his name will be added to the permanent plaque maintained within the department.

Michelle Sparman receiving the award from Dr. Dave Gerrard
Michelle L. Sparman

Michelle joined Dr. Rebecca Krisher's laboratory in the fall of 2001 to pursue an M.S. degree, specializing in reproductive physiology/developmental biology. Michelle finished her B.S. degree in Animal Sciences at Washington State University where she was very involved in undergraduate research. She was an outstanding student academically and has continued to be an outstanding student under Dr. Krisher's direction.

In the Krisher lab, Michelle has become proficient at techniques of in vitro maturation, fertilization and embryo culture of mammalian oocytes and embryos. Michelle was a Featherston Off-Campus Training Fellowship recipient last year. She completed a course in confocal microscopy as a result and has used this in her thesis research. Using confocal microscopy, she has been examining mitochondrial location and activity in porcine oocytes after maturation in vitro and is investigating how these parameters are affected by ionic components in the culture environment. She is particularly interested in how these variables regulate the developmental competence of mammalian oocytes and embryos. Such research is important for advancements in in vitro culture technology. Michelle is an author or co-author of four research publications and abstracts and has received several awards and honors for her past achievements.


The Featherston Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award was established in memory of Professor W.R. Featherston to annually recognize the outstanding teaching by an M.S. or Ph.D. student within the department. The award consists of $850, plus a Certificate of Award, an Individual plaque and their name will be added to a permanent plaque maintained within the department.

Kylie Daniels
Kylie Daniels

Kylie is pursuing a Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. Mike Schutz. Kylie joined our graduate program in 2001 and received her BS and Master's degree from the University of Vermont. Kylie received nominations for the Graduate Teaching Award not only for her accomplishments as a teaching assistant for Animal Sciences, 444, Dairy Production (lead instructor – Shawn Donkin), but also for assisting with small group discussions in ANSC 181, Orientation to Animal Sciences.

Nominator comments include, "She has truly brought ANSC 444 to the next level by coordinating the mini-herds of dairy cows at ASREC for which students are responsible during the course, teaching weekly laboratories, delivering occasional lectures, and grading laboratory reports and assignments. ....She also took it upon herself to offer review sessions for students before the class and is a very popular TA among the students and always has students coming by during office hours ... clearly she brought unbounded enthusiasm and wholehearted effort to the class which created an atmosphere that encouraged students to learn all they could." A former student commented, "Kylie is concerned that each student succeeds, she challenges us to learn all that we can." Another faculty nominator states, "Kylie is always pleasant and presents herself well to our undergraduate majors. I have always been impressed with how she conducts her sessions and how she gets the students to interact. Kylie is enhancing their education."

As the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award recipient, Kylie was recognized at the University's Celebration of Graduate Student Teaching Banquet last month.


The Featherston Outstanding Ph.D. Award was established in memory of Professor W.R. Featherston to annually recognize the outstanding Ph.D. student within the department. This award is considered an extremely high honor in the Graduate Program and serves to reward excellence. The award consists of $1000, Certificate of Award, an Individual plaque and the recipient's name will be added to a permanent plaque maintained within the department.

Jonathan Townsend receiving the award from Dr. Dave Gerrard
Jonathan Townsend

Jonathan is pursuing his Ph.D. under the direction of Dr. Donkin. He entered the graduate program in the Department in August 2000 and expects to complete the requirements in Fall 2003. Jon holds a DVM, has worked in a clinical practice for two years and is a former resident in Dairy Production Medicine at Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine; these experiences have been valuable to him and the program here at Purdue. Jon is a past president of the Animal Sciences Graduate Student Association.

Nominator's comments include, "Jon works well with undergraduate students, vet students, faculty and staff within Animal Sciences and other departments on campus ... Despite the many demands Jon entails, he always meets his obligations on time and with enthusiasm. The fact that he delights in the success of others is a recipe for success in whatever position he secures."

Jon's accomplishments include:

  • Successful examination process to become Board Certified in Dairy Specialty by the American Veterinary Association
  • Three manuscripts in preparation
  • Authored abstracts for the ASAS/ADSA
  • Maintains part-time emergency clinical duties (weekends) with the Food-Animal Ambulatory clinic
  • Part-time teaching assistant for ANSC 444 (Dairy Management)
  • Informally mentors vet students in the Applications and Integrations course taught in Vet Medicine
  • Mentors students involved in dairy farm troubleshooting
  • Participation in the Interdepartmental Nutrition Program

Congratulations to the award winners

Plaques maintained in the department will be displayed in new showcases – donated by Jake Krider, Professor Emeritus and a former Department Head of Purdue Animal Sciences.