Karen Nielsen Recognized by CALS for Excellence in International Activities

The Excellence in International Activities Award recognizes an individual engaged in international research, instruction, outreach, program development, or service. The 2018 International Activities Award goes to Karen Nielsen, Outreach Program Manager in the Department of Dairy Science.

Karen D. Nielsen, Dairy Science, poses for a picture with the Excellence in International Activities Award, Dean Kate VandenBosch, left, and Director of International Programs Sundaram Gunasekaran, during the 2018 CALS Awards at the Ebling Symposium Center at UW-Madison in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

Since arriving on campus, Karen has made international connections between UW–Madison and the rest of the world. In particular, she has facilitated deep collaborative relationships between the Department of Dairy Science and the dairy industry in China. Countless professionals and firms in both China and the U.S. have benefitted from this remarkable relationship.

Karen also developed training programs used by the Wisconsin Army National Guard during deployments to Afghanistan a few years ago. She enabled soldiers to train local citizens in farming and harvesting techniques.

Karen’s extensive, high-impact, and far-reaching efforts to manage research, instruction, outreach, and program development internationally are what make her so deserving of this award.

Congratulations, Karen!

UW-Madison Dairy Science Students Win First Place at National Dairy Challenge

VISALIA, CA. – Students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Dairy Science took first place at the National Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge, held April 12-14 in Visalia, CA.

Ted Halbach, coach, Logan Voigts, Charles Hamilton, Connor Willems, Anthony Schmitz, and Dr. David Combs, coach.

Dairy Challenge is an applied dairy management competition that requires students to analyze a commercial farm and present their observations and management recommendations to a panel of industry professionals. Judges include dairy producers, veterinarians, farm finance specialists and agribusiness personnel. 

34 universities and two aggregate teams participated in the 2018 Dairy Challenge, with nine teams of four students competing on each of the four contest dairies. The team from UW-Madison included Connor Willems, of Reedsville, Wis., Anthony Schmitz, of Fond du Lac, Wis., Logan Voigts, of Belmont, Wis., and Charles Hamilton, of Cuba City, Wis. They were coached by Ted Halbach, faculty associate in dairy management, and David Combs, professor of dairy nutrition and management.

The team analyzed Rancho Sierra Vista Dairy from Visalia, CA. The free stall dairy operation milks 2,450 cows in a double 32 herringbone parlor with 22 full-time employees. The herd’s average production is 88 lbs. of milk per cow, per day, which ranks in the top 50 percent of California dairies.  The operation also raises 3200 young stock, including dairy steers.

On the Rancho Sierra Vista Dairy Cornell University placed second. Other teams that competed on this farm were: Delaware Valley University, Dordt College, Purdue University, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Maine at Orono and Tarleton State University.

In addition to UW-Madison, first place team awards went to California Polytechnic State University, Iowa State University and Michigan State University. Each member of the winning teams received $200 scholarships.

for more information, contact Ted Halbach at (608) 263-3305 or tjhalbach@wisc.edu


From the Department Chair’s Desk: 2017 in Review

Kent Weigel, Department Chair and Professor in Breeding and Genetics

A lot has been happening in Dairy Science over the past several months!

As many of you know, Kalyanna (Yanna) Williams stepped into our Dairy Youth Specialist role this summer.  Starting the position just before June Dairy Month was pretty exciting for Yanna, especially when a record-breaking 140 kids arrived for Badger Dairy Camp in her second week on the job.  Yanna is almost a veteran now, having been through all of the key youth events once, except 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl.

A month or so later, in early July, Dr. Sebastian Arriola Apelo joined our dairy nutrition group as Assistant Professor of Metabolism.  Sebastian is originally from Uruguay, and he did his graduate work with Dr. Mark Hannigan at Virginia Tech.  His main area of interest is protein nutrition, particularly ways to enhance the cow’s ability to use specific amino acids and other nutrients to put more high quality milk into the bulk tank and excrete less nitrogen into the environment.  We are delighted to have Sebastian on board, although we recognize that he’ll have to work pretty hard to match the colorful personality of his predecessor – the famous Dr. Armentano!  Any geneticists reading this note will be happy to learn that Sebastian’s wife, Dr. Gabi Márquez Betz, is a genetics researcher at ABS Global.

Our newest faculty member, Dr. Jennifer Van Os, will arrive in March to begin her role as Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Animal Welfare.  Jennifer is a native of Champaign-Urbana, and her winding path to the Dairy Science Department included some study time at Harvard and some work experience in L.A., before she earned a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior at UC Davis and gained post-doctoral experience at the University of British Columbia.  As mentioned earlier, Jennifer and her husband, Neil, will be moving to Madison later this winter.

Drs. Arriola Apelo and Van Os will be joining a growing team of young “hot shots” in dairy research, as evidenced by the fact that Drs. Laura Hernandez and Heather White swept the outstanding early career scientist awards at this summer’s American Dairy Science Association Annual Meeting, winning the Foundation Scholar and Cargill Animal Nutrition Awards, respectively.

On a less happy note, Dr. Pamela Ruegg will be departing in early January to become Chair of Animal Sciences at her alma mater, Michigan State University.  Pam’s research and extension work has had a tremendous impact on milk quality and dairy cow health and welfare, not only in Wisconsin, but around the world.  Please wish Pam the best of luck with her new adventure!

As for our undergraduate program, Ted Halbach has delivered another stellar recruiting class, with 25 new freshmen and transfer students entering the Dairy Science major this fall.  On average, these students ranked in the 87th percentile of their respective high school graduating classes, so they are a very talented bunch.  It will be fun to watch them develop over the next four years.

Lastly, we have been working with our dairy industry stakeholders to develop a new mechanism for recruiting exceptionally talented graduate students and carrying out high-impact research for the benefit of dairy farmers in Wisconsin and beyond.  Over the next few months, we’ll be rolling out the Wisconsin Dairy Farming Research Partners program, in which dairy farmers and dairy-related agribusinesses can provide an annual contribution to the UW Foundation to ensure a steady supply of talented young research scientists and technical consultants, while delivering highly impactful and innovative discoveries.  To learn more about how to become a Wisconsin Dairy Farming Research Partner, contact me (kweigel@wisc.edu) or Paul Fricke (pmfricke@wisc.edu) for details.

Happy Holidays to you and your friends and families!