CALS Awards Dairy-Related Research Funding

The University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) recently awarded six, two-year graduate student assistantships. These aim to help increase dairy-related research capacity through the Dairy Innovation Hub initiative. The selected graduate students are working on research projects in the Hub’s four priority areas. These areas include stewarding land and water resources, enriching human health and nutrition, ensuring animal health and welfare, and also growing farm business and communities.

A graduate student assistantship is a salaried employment opportunity for students working toward an advanced degree beyond their bachelor’s. Students work alongside a faculty mentor and in return, receive tuition remission, health benefits, and a monthly stipend. Students acquire valuable skills in assistantship roles relevant to their career goals. They also develop broad, transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and leadership.

Wisconsin funds The Hub annually with $7.8 million. It supports Wisconsin’s dairy community by advancing science, developing talent, and fostering collaboration at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville, and UW–River Falls. Since its launch in 2019, the initiative has funded more than 200 projects across the three campuses.

The following UW–Madison graduate students have received funding:

Brayan Daniel Riascos Arteaga

Brayan Arteaga

“Gaining value from post-anaerobic digestion dairy manure fibers”
Arteaga is currently pursuing a PhD in civil and environmental engineering under the mentorship of Krishnapuram (K.G.). Karthikeyan, a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. He has joined Karthikeyan’s team to explore how post-anaerobic digestion cellulosic fibers, leftover from manure, can become a new revenue stream for farmers. The team plans to assess if chemical treatment of post-AD fibers boosts biogas production from dairy manure or yields chemicals like lactic acid.

Jalyssa Beaudry

“Profitability of automated milking systems and labor implications for Wisconsin dairy farmers”
Beaudry is pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture as well as applied economics. She is co-mentored by associate professor Chuck Nicholson at UW–Madison and assistant professor Shaheer Burney at UW–River Falls. UW–River Falls is also co-funding the project. Beaudry joins Nicholson’s team to study the financial and operational feasibility of adopting automatic milking systems on Wisconsin dairy farms. The outcomes of this study and policy recommendations will be shared with stakeholders and farmers through extension workshops and bulletins.  

Yuxing Chen

“Exploiting the food-grade organism Aspergillus oryzae as a biocontrol agent against Listeria monocytogenes in dairy products and cattle”
Chen is currently pursuing a master’s degree in food science under the mentorship of assistant professor Tu-Anh Huynh. She joins Huynh’s team evaluating the efficacy of an extract from Aspergillus oryzae, a food-grade fungus commonly used in fermentation, against Listeria strains that can grow on the surfaces of cheese and/or wooden cheese ripening boards. The findings of this study will guide formulations of natural biocontrol agents that inhibit and kill Listeria in dairy animal feed, dairy products, and dairy processing plants.  

Ellie Froelich

“Improving anaerobic digester performance through micro-aeration”
Froelich is pursuing a master’s degree in biological systems engineering under the mentorship of assistant professor Neslihan Akdeniz. She joins Akdeniz’s team developing a low-cost method to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a toxic and damaging gas, from biogas produced by manure digestors. The outcomes of this study aim to increase understanding of a process to remove H2S and gain knowledge related to optimizing these systems.  

Julia Kettner

“Capacity of flies to acquire and transmit pathogenic bacteria to dairy cows”
Kettner is currently completing her master’s degree in bacteriology mentored by assistant professor Kerri Coon. She joins Coon’s team investigating the capacity of flies to transmit mastitis- and enteritis-causing bacteria from the environment to dairy cows. The results of this study will provide new insights into the persistence and transmission of bacterial pathogens that are detrimental to cow health and production.  

Elizabeth McGuire

“A novel approach to understanding the impact of dry-off on dairy cow welfare in automatic milking systems”
McGuire is currently pursuing a master’s degree in animal and dairy sciences and is co-mentored by assistant professor Jennifer Van Os at UW–Madison and assistant professor Kate Creutzinger at UW–River Falls. Assistant professor Ryan Pralle at UW–Platteville is an additional collaborator and UW–Platteville is co-funding the project. McGuire joins Van Os’ team investigating the use of automatic milking systems to characterize self-dry-off and gradual dry-off of late lactation cows. Improvements in dry-off will improve animal welfare and reduce lost profits caused by intramammary infection.  

More details about the graduate students and their projects can be found at