ANSC Annual Graduate Student Awards Luncheon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Animal Sciences Annual Graduate Student Awards Luncheon was held in conjunction with the events of the Celebration of Science. The Celebration of Science included the LOUJA competition, the ANSC Graduate Student Awards luncheon as well as speakers from Washington State University (Dr. Min Du), and our own Department (Dr. Kolapo Ajuwon).

2012 ANSC Graduate Committee
Paul Collodi, Chair
Committee members: Todd Applegate, Shihuan Kuang, Amy Lossie, Zoltan Machaty, Jeremy Marchant-Forde, and Marcos Rostagno.

THE LOUJA GRADUATE TRAVEL AWARDS were established to provide grants to Animal Sciences Graduate students, presenting outstanding research papers based upon original research and excellence of presentation. The LOUJA Graduate Travel Awards were established in honor of the leadership and dedication to the animal industry of Dr. and Mrs. J.L. Krider. Dr. Krider served as Head of Purdue's Department of Animal Sciences from 1963 to 1971 and Professor until his retirement in 1979. Previously he had served on the staffs of Cornell University and University of Illinois as well as on administrative assignments with Central Soya. He was very active in many organizations serving as President of the American society of Animal Science and as a consultant to several organizations and countries.

Each year, Dr. Jake Krider and his wife, Louise, provide travel funds to a few Animal Science graduate students to attend scientific meetings. Eligible students must be the author or a co-author on the abstract and must be the presenter at the meeting. Meetings can be regional, national, or international as long as the proceedings are published to public acquisition or viewing. Students will have 12 min. for the oral presentation followed by a 3-minute questionnaire period. This time schedule applied to both slide and poster presentations.

Mrs. Krider passed in October, 2000 and Dr. Krider passed in June, 2005.


LOUJA award winners
Left to right: Dr. Alan Mathew, Department Head, Tana Dennis, Sarah Fraley, Chiao-Ling Lo, Chia-Li Shih, and Dr. Paul Collodi, Graduate Committee Chair

Tana Dennis - Evaluation of feed delivery methods for growing dairy heifers

Sarah Fraley - Effect of dietary potassium on water intake and rumen dynamics

Chiao-Ling Lo - Notchless impacts multiple signaling pathways during pre-implantation development

Chia-Li Shih - The role of MMP-13 in adipocyte differentiation


The Book Harmon Leadership Scholarship was established in 2005 by Bob Book and Bud Harmon in recognition of their efforts to provide and promote leadership in animal agriculture. Each year, the Book-Harmon Leadership Scholarship provides a $1,000 scholarship to reward a graduate student in Animal Sciences that has displayed outstanding leadership skills and efforts.

Criteria for receiving the scholarship:

  • Major in Animal Sciences
  • Have and maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Possess good communication and leadership skills
  • Be involved with department, university and national organizations

The Book-Harmon Leadership Scholarship is awarded to Collette Thogerson.

Collette Thogerson
Collette stated that a good leader has clear vision, can clearly articulate the vision, inspire and motivate others to join the quest for the vision, and passionately pursue the vision to completion. Having a clear vision requires setting goals and setting a course of action to obtain those goals. Collette has had a clear vision for making a difference in the lives of animals since she was a small child. Her vision for helping animals sparked a relentless determination to pursue her education regardless of the obstacles that stood in her path. Collette has demonstrated this by speaking about her research at nearly 20 scientific presentations, winning honorable mention at the Animal Behaviour Society poster competition as an undergraduate and receiving the Poultry Science Association Student Certificate of Excellence Award for an oral presentation. Collette's Master's and Ph.D. projects have involved working with stakeholders to elicit change in animal welfare.

Passionately pursuing a vision to completion requires putting passion into action, a strong sense of determination, competence, patience and dependability. Collette has demonstrated this many times. She stated that she does not take "no" for an answer but instead asks "How can we make this work?" For instance, she wanted to work with zoo animals, but her advisor's main focus was teaching her how to be a rigorous scientist and had concerns about challenges zoo researchers face. Collette has displayed competence, patience and dependability in her research, but also in her home life where she is a wife and mother. Parenting three young children, while pursuing her vision for making a difference in the lives of animals has required an extensive amount of patience, dependability, and a very strong sense of humor.

Congratulations, Collette! Collette was unable to attend the awards presentation today.


The purpose of the Gerry W. Friars Fellowship is to alleviate some of the monetary stress of foreign students at Purdue University. Dr. Gerry Friars completed his Ph.D. at Purdue University in 1961, while on leave from the Ontario Agricultural College; the College later became part of the University of Guelph. Dr. Friars' career at Guelph from 1951 to 1985 involved teaching and research in poultry and fish genetics and breeding. From 1985 to 1995, he was the Chief Scientist at the Atlantic Salmon Federation with a cross appointment at the University of New Brunswick. His long association with graduate students cultivated an awareness of the financial needs of these students. An annual award of $400 is awarded to an international M.S. or Ph.D. student studying quantitative poultry or fish genetics in the Department of Animal Sciences. This year's recipient is Abraham Tesfamichael.

Abraham Tesfamichael receiving the award from Dr. Mathew and Dr. Collodi
Abraham has a B.S. degree in marine biology and a M.S. in developmental biology. Before coming to Purdue, Abraham worked as a fisheries biologist for the Manzanar Project, which is a private foundation that promotes food production from aquaculture in Eritrea. At Purdue, Abraham's research has been focused on understanding the molecular factors that control germ cell formation in fish. Abraham is working on his Ph.D. under Dr. Collodi.

Currently, Abraham is using the purified protein to study the signal transduction pathway triggered by the factor in fish germ line stem cell cultures. He has also cloned the GSDF promoter region and has generated a transgenic line of fish that expresses the red fluorescent protein along with a gene that confers drug resistance under the control of the cloned promoter. The goal of the work is to understand how GSDF enhances germ cell formation in the fish gonad and to use the recombinant factor to establish in vitro cultures of the germ cells.

Congratulations, Abraham!


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.


The Featherston Off-campus Training Fellowship was established in memory of Professor W.R. Featherston to annually provide financial support for a 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 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's recipient of this award is Nathan Horn.

Nathan Horn receiving the award from Dr. Mathew and Dr. Collodi
​Nathan (who will receive up to $1,000 in reimbursements) joined Dr. Adeola's laboratory in January 2012. Nathan has a B.S. and M.S. from Animal Sciences at Purdue and has worked in industry for more than three years before returning to work on his Ph.D.

The American Association of Immunologists is conducting a workshop on advanced immunology in Boston this summer. Participation in the workshop will better equip Nathan with the knowledge and skills for some of the techniques that will be used in his research. Nathan has an interest in gut immune response and the impact of botanicals and oligosaccharides on gut health and integrity. Nathan will have the opportunity to learn from many of the top minds in the field of immunology. He will be exposed to many different and novel points of view as well as provide him the opportunity to learn and discuss the latest techniques and recent developments in immunology with researchers during the workshop.

Congratulations, Nathan!


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. This year's recipient is Pengpeng Bi.

Pengpeng Bi receiving the award from Dr. Mathew and Dr. Collodi
Pengpeng joined Dr. Kuang's lab in August 2010 with a strong background in cell and developmental biology. Pengpeng is in the second year of his Ph.D. studies.

Within three months after his arrival, he demonstrated outstanding hands-on and creative ability. He worked almost independently to make several plasmids to express Notch target genes in muscle cells. He extracted RNA, reverse transcribed and PCR amplified cDNA of Hes6, Hey1 and HeyL genes from primary muscle cells and subcloned them into reporter constructs to express these genes. Obviously, he learned how to grow primary muscle cells in order to complete these tasks.

Due to this contribution, he was the second author in the resulting manuscript for the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Pengpeng's contribution also earned him authorship in a manuscript that is currently under review in Development.

Congratulations Pengpeng!


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. This year's recipient is Patrick Gunn.

Patrick Gunn receiving the award from Dr. Mathew and Dr. Collodi
Patrick has pursued a M.S. in nutrition and is currently working on his Ph.D. in reproduction with Dr. Ronald Lemenager. Patrick has served as a teaching assistant for ANSC 32400 three times, ANSC 43500 twice, and ANSC 30100 once. This past fall, he served as co-instructor for ANSC 43500.

One of his nominator's stated that a majority of the laboratories for ANSC 43500 were hands-on, such as bovine trans-rectal insemination, semen collection and semen evaluation techniques, and Patrick was very adept at providing assistance to students in learning these new skills. Patrick presented two excellent lectures during the semester, one on Bovine Estrous Synchronization and the other on Parturition and Dystocia in Cattle. The content, organization, handouts and presentation were right on target.

As co-instructor for ANSC 43500, he was fully responsible for the development and delivery of approximately 50% of the laboratory and lecture materials related to bovine breeding herd management and reproductive technologies. He also provided input and assistance with the remainder of the course content related mainly to swine breeding herd management and reproductive technologies.

Dr. Wayne Singleton compared Patrick with over 25 teaching assistants from over the years and ranked Patrick at the top in terms of his knowledge of the subject matter, level of maturity and his current teaching skills and abilities.

Congratulations, Patrick!


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 $1,000, a certificate of award, an individual plaque and the recipient's name will be added to a permanent plaque maintained within the Department. This year's recipient of this award is Patrick Gunn.

Patrick Gunn receiving the award from Dr. Mathew and Dr. Collodi
The nominator's comments include "Patrick meets all of the criteria of this award." His academic performance speaks for itself. He has demonstrated excellent communication skills both on- and off-campus, as well as in both oral and written formats. He has won both the M.S. and Ph.D. graduate student competitions at the Midwest American Society of Animal Science meetings. Patrick has been an active presenter at the Animal Sciences Workshop for Youth the last four years and has been involved with Animal Sciences Preview Days. In addition, he has served as the American Society of Animal Science Midwest Section Graduate Director Vice-Chair and is currently serving his term as Chair.

Patrick has been prolific in his graduate research. He has authored or co-authored 7 journal papers, 28 abstracts, 6 other research publications, and 3 extension publications. In addition, he has 3 additional manuscripts and 8 abstracts submitted, with 10 more manuscripts in preparation. Patrick has written two successful Rice Grants totaling just under $20,000 and has presented two invited talks: 1) 2011 Midwest ASAS meetings on the use of the 5-d Co-Synch + CIDR protocol for use in timed artificial insemination, and 2) at the 2009 Utah State University Workshop on estrous synchronization protocols.

Congratulations, Patrick!