Department Chair Update

From Kent Weigel, Chair

– The Dairy Science major just welcomed our largest incoming class in several years, with a very talented group of 25 new freshmen and transfer students entering in fall 2014. This brings our current undergraduate enrollment to 79 students, along with 33 graduate students and 8 post-docs, visiting scientists and research interns.

– Dr. Matt Akins will be joining the department on January 1, 2015 as Dairy Management Specialist at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. Matt will be working from campus during the spring semester, and in early summer he and his family will relocate to the Marshfield area. Matt’s responsibilities will include applied research and extension programming, with specific focus on the management and nutrition of dairy replacement heifers. He will also collaborate closely with scientists at the USDA-ARS Institute for Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management at the Marshfield station, as they work on problems related to the interaction between agronomic practices, herd management protocols, animal facilities, and the environmental impact of dairy operations. Matt completed his PhD studies at UW-Madison in 2012, under the supervision of Dr. Randy Shaver. For the past two years, he has been an Assistant Professor of Animal Science at UW-Platteville.

– The final phase of renovating the campus Dairy Cattle Center began in July, with the hiring of Middleton-based BWZ Architects as the architectural and engineering firm. BWZ did a great job with the “animal areas” of the Dairy Cattle Center in the round of renovations that was completed in early 2013. The next (and hopefully final) phase of the renovation will include: air conditioning of the core building, construction of a women’s locker room (none was needed when the original facility opened in the 1950’s), remodeling of the men’s locker room, conversion of the current lecture hall to a flexible space that can accommodate lecture and laboratory activities, and collaboration with PDPW on development of a “dairy education center” for teaching K-12 school children and other visitors about modern dairy farming practices. We expect the design phase to take about six months, such that bids can be solicited in the winter, and construction can begin in the spring. With a little luck, the project will be finished by the spring 2016 semester, and staff and students from Dairy Science and the School of Veterinary Medicine can start using the new facilities.

– Please note two important upcoming events! On Friday, October 31 we will be hosting prospective students and their parents for Dairy Science Visit Day. Costumes are optional, but regardless of what you wear we hope you and your high school junior or senior (or potential transfer student) will join us to learn about UW-Madison, the Dairy Science major, housing options, scholarships and financial aid, admissions and related topics. The following week, on Thursday, November 6 we will be hosting our annual Dairy Science Showcase. All interested alumni, stakeholders and friends are welcome. Our faculty and graduate students will have oral and poster presentations featuring their latest research findings, we’ll recognize our scholarship recipients, and there will be plenty of time for informal discussions about the latest happenings on campus and out in the dairy industry. Please visit our website for more information about these events, as well as links for online registration.