Dairy Hub Hires Eight

Multiple faculty members were recently hired at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville and UW–River Falls with funding from the Dairy Innovation Hub.

These new scientists will support work in the Hub’s four priority areas: stewarding land and water resources, enriching human health and nutrition, ensuring animal health and welfare, and growing farm business and communities.

The Dairy Innovation Hub, which the state of Wisconsin is supporting with $7.8 million per year, harnesses research and development at the three campuses. The goal is to keep Wisconsin’s $45.6 billion dairy community at the global forefront in producing nutritious dairy products in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner.

“By infusing faculty focused on the Hub priority areas into departments that match their discipline, we are addressing critical gaps and key research challenges in areas identified by the Hub,” says Hub faculty director Heather White. “Furthermore, these faculty are stimulating collaborations within their departments and colleges, and excitedly, across the three campuses.”

Eight new faculty members join five that were already in place from previous rounds of hiring. In addition, there are multiple faculty searches currently in progress. All Hub-funded faculty collaborate with each other and leverage the unique resources across the three campuses.

AT UW–MADISON

Margaret Kalcic, Department of Biological Systems Engineering

Kalcic is an associate professor in biological systems engineering with a focus on watershed modeling and agricultural hydrology. In this position, she’s developing a research and outreach program aimed at increasing agricultural conservation measures to protect water quality and the environment through agroecosystem simulation modeling and field monitoring. Her appointment began January 2022.

Hilario Mantovani, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences

Mantovani is an assistant professor in animal and dairy sciences exploring the gut microbiome of dairy cattle. In this role, Mantovani is building a research program in rumen microbial physiology focused on advancing dairy sustainability through improved productivity, feed efficiency, and alternative feed sources. Mantovani will have the opportunity to leverage collaborations with the US Dairy Forage Research Center. His appointment began in March 2022.

Chuck Nicholson, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Nicholson was hired as an associate professor in agricultural and applied economics with a focus on dairy economics. In this position, Nicholson is researching economic and agribusiness topics relevant to the U.S. and Wisconsin dairy supply chain, from farmers to consumers, including dairy markets and policy. His research program includes collaborations with all three campuses. Nicholson started in January 2022.

Joseph Pierre, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Pierre was hired as an assistant professor in nutritional sciences with a focus on dairy components and their impacts on human health and nutrition. In this role, Pierre’s research program will take a multidisciplinary approach to nutrition and health with an emphasis on the impacts of dairy products, collaborating among the three campuses. Pierre’s appointment began in October 2021.

Xia Zhu-Barker, Department of Soil Science

Zhu-Barker was hired as an assistant professor in soil science with a focus on studying the sustainability of agroecosystems. In this position, she will develop a research and outreach program to improve the performance of agroecosystems by integrating biogeochemical, ecological, environmental, agronomic, economic, and social knowledge into agroecosystem management decisions. Her appointment began in June 2022.

AT UW–PLATTEVILLE

Zifan Wan, Dairy Food Science and Management

Wan was hired as an assistant professor specializing in dairy food science and management. In this role, Wan will develop a research and outreach program on dairy food product development with an emphasis on improving human health and economic sustainability of Wisconsin dairy farms and surrounding communities. Her appointment began in August 2021.

AT UW–RIVER FALLS

Bahareh Hassanpour, Department of Plant and Earth Science

Hassanpour was hired as an assistant professor in plant and earth science with a focus on agricultural water management. In this position, Hassanpour will develop a research and outreach program on water management and protection specific to the dairy industry. Her appointment began in March 2022.

Susanne Wiesner, Department of Plant and Earth Science

Wiesner was hired as an assistant professor in plant and earth science with a focus on agricultural atmospheric science and climate resiliency. In this role, Wiesner will develop a research and outreach program focused on mitigating impacts of climate change on the dairy industry. Her appointment began in August 2022.