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Animal & Equine Science

Our graduate students are some of the most up and coming research from around the world. We pride ourselves in having a diverse set of individuals with skills sets in all areas.


Emma Briggs:

Emma Briggs is a pursuing a Master’s degree in Bovine Breeding and Genetics under the guidance of Dr. Speidel and Dr. Enns. She grew up on a 5th generation cow calf operation in the northern region California. Emma earned her undergraduate degree in Animal Science at California State University, Fresno. Her current research is focused on evaluating the genetic relationship between pulmonary arterial pressure, feed utilization, and carcass traits in beef cattle.

Megan Corgan:

Megan Corgan is from San Diego, CA and is a recent graduate of the Equine Sciences undergraduate program. She is currently working on her Masters in Animal Sciences concentrating on Livestock Behavior and Welfare with Dr. Temple Grandin. Megan's research will be focused on Equine Behavior and Welfare, but she is excited to work on projects focusing on other species as well. During Megan's undergraduate experience, she bought her horse out of the colt training class and has loved growing together since. Her and her horse have enjoyed being a member of the Ranch Horse team as an undergraduate and graduate student. Megan is also very passionate about teaching, as well as research, and is enjoying her time in various teaching assistant and teaching roles.

Jilleen Haddix:

Jilleen Haddix is pursuing a Master’s degree focused on Sustainable Beef Production Systems under the guidance of Dr. Jasmine Dillon. Jilleen grew up in Lake Orion, MI and spent most of her time either at OSMTech (Oakland Science, Mathematics and Technology Academy) or in dance classes at the dance studio managed by her mother. She also cherished time spent at her grandfather’s dairy farm in northern Michigan where her love of animals began. After high school, Jilleen and her family moved to Beijing, China for four years where she studied Chinese language and worked as an English teacher at a bilingual and international pre-school. In 2009, she returned to the US where she graduated from Oakland University (Rochester, MI) with a B.A. in Mathematics and a minor in English. After graduation, she was offered a position at General Motors as a Safety Data Analyst in the Vehicle Safety and Analytics department and while employed at GM she earned an Applied Statistics Certification from Texas A&M. After several years in the automotive industry, she decided to join CSU so that she could combine her two loves – animals and mathematics. Her current research focuses on animal nutrition models and a life cycle assessment of a cow-calf operation. She has a special interest in regenerative grazing and nutrition.

Bailey Klug

Bailey Klug grew up on her family's ranch in Yerington, Nevada where she primarily raised Polled Hereford cattle along with her brother and sisters. She graduated from the University of Nevada Reno in 2 years with a Bachelor's Degree in Veterinary Science. Deciding to continue her education, her and her husband moved to Colorado where Bailey is currently attending Colorado State University. She is a master's student in the Animal Science program with a focus on dairy science. Her deep passion for agriculture has made her strive for higher aspirations and has brought her much success. She wishes to continue her education and is driven to accomplish her goals within the cattle industry.

Andrea Loudenback:

Andrea Loudenback is a master’s student in Beef and Dairy Systems studying sustainable livestock production under Dr. Jasmine Dillon. She grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where she developed a love for animals and a fascination for science. Andrea began her undergraduate studies at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa studying Marine Biology where she found that she desired an education that gave her the ability to work with a broad range of animals. After two years, she transferred to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences while maintaining a minor in Marine Biology. While in Minnesota she spent time working in a sustainable cropping systems lab, deepening her knowledge about livestock species and their welfare, and pursuing independent research opportunities related to sustainable agriculture. Her current research focuses on using climate projections in Colorado to model the implications of climate change on dairy cattle productivity and welfare, economics, and forage quality.

Matthew McQuagge:

Matthew McQuagge is pursuing a Master’s degree in Equine Reproduction under Dr. Jason Bruemmer. He grew up in Florida being involved in both the horse and beef cattle industries and received his Bachelor’s in Animal Science from the University of Florida. Prior to attending CSU, Matthew spent two years working on a feedlot for Cactus Feeders in southwest Kansas. He hopes to eventually find a career in extension or production that combines his interests in both the beef and horse industries.

Will Nelson:

Will Nelson is a 4th-generation native to the Ft. Collins area. He grew up on his family’s large, commercial sheep feedlot and farm in Weld County. Will graduated from CSU in 2011 with a BS in Agricultural Education. After graduation, he spent five years as a high school Agricultural Education teacher in Western and Southeastern Colorado. He decided to return home to work at the family farm and pursue his education further in 2016. Will began his MS program in animal nutrition at CSU in 2018, studying under Dr. John Wagner and Dr. Shawn Archibeque. His research is focused on measuring and controlling heat stress and liver abscess incidence in feedlot cattle.

Cora Okkema:

Cora Okkema is pursuing a Master’s degree in Livestock Behavior and Welfare under the guidance of Dr. Temple Grandin. Cora was born and raised on a dairy farm, but on two separate continents. Her family emigrated from The Netherlands in 1999 and started a dairy farm in Central Michigan. She is proud to say that 20 years later De Grins Oer Dairy milks 675 head of Holstein cattle with a 40-stall Delaval rotary parlor. She earned her undergraduate degree in Animal Science at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa in 2016. After that she pursued a career in Dairy Livestock Nutrition but soon found her calling was elsewhere. Cora became the herdsman of the family farm and realized this is her passion. Being able to experience farming on the production side gave her a more practical understanding of the issues that farmers face. With this production-based mindset and the desire to grow her understanding of the industry Cora arrived at Colorado State University with the commitment to serve her fellow farmers. Her research will be focusing on dairy cull cow welfare throughout transportation and processing.

Courtney Pierce:

Courtney Pierce is a master’s student in Animal Breeding and Genetics. She grew up on a small farm in Eastern Washington where her family raised a variety of animals. During her undergraduate studies, she attended Washington State University where she received a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences with an emphasis in management. Her current research is focused on identifying quantitative trait loci associated with grazing distribution traits in beef cattle.

Alex Schaff :

Alex is a DVM/Master’s student in Dairy Systems under the advisement of Dr. Noa Roman-Muniz. He received his BA in Biology with a minor in Philosophy from Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. For his Master’s thesis, he is studying anaerobic digestion as a waste management system for converting dairy manures into biofuels and biofertilizers for on-farm energy use and nutrient recycling purposes. His broader interest is to strengthen the economic, social and environmental sustainability of agriculture, which includes protecting public health, animal welfare, and rural vitality. Together with his friends, family and mentors, his major influences are Aldo Leopold, Bill Mollison, Temple Grandin, Rudolf Steiner, Masanobu Fukuoka, Allan Savory, Tara Rodríguez Besosa, Michael Pollan, Bernard Rollin, Mark Shepard, La Via Campesina, Daniel Quinn, Wendell Berry, Peter McCoy, Rachel Carson, Richard Heinberg, Carlo Petrini and Cesar Chavez.

Caleb Swing :

Caleb Swing is a master’s student studying meat safety and sustainability under Dr. Nair. Caleb is originally from Northern Colorado, but has lived the past decade in China, where he attended Jiangnan University and obtained a B.S. in Food Science, Technology, and Engineering. During his undergraduate studies in China, Caleb conducted research on the antimicrobial properties of essential oil microcapsules in fresh meat products; and also gained extensive experience in meat and dairy processing facilities in both China and the US. Caleb hopes to utilize his Mandarin/English language abilities and unique experiences to deepen his knowledge and understanding of world agriculture, to ultimately pursue a career in meat safety.

Ana Velasquez:

Ana is a DVM from Universidad Austral de Chile. As student her interests were related to Ovine and Bovine productions. For her thesis, Ana worked with a large data set of Chilean dairy herds to determine incidence of subclinical mastitis. Once graduated, she completed two years of internships in conventional and organic dairy farms in the United States. As part of her curiosity, she lived and worked in the Australian dairy industry until became a CSU student in fall 2016. Her research interests as M.S. student at Dairy System Laboratory are dairy calf and cow: health, behavior and wellbeing.



Aerial Belk:

Aeriel is a Ph.D. student in Animal Sciences with a focus on meat science and the microbiome. She has an extensive background in the subject that she developed while raising cattle, showing livestock, and competing on the Livestock and Meats Judging Teams in 4-H. She decided to continue with her interests in the field by pursuing an undergraduate degree in Animal Sciences at CSU while simultaneously working in several research labs: investigating the role of miRNAs in equine reproduction, studying novel antimicrobial treatments on meat safety, and assisting in several meat quality and shelf-life studies. After graduation, she completed a Master’s degree in Animal Science, with certificates in Meat Science and Food Safety, from Texas A&M University. Her thesis topic was comparing the prevalence of Salmonella in beef lymph nodes across feeding stages and feedlot locations. She returned to CSU for a doctoral degree with a focus on microbiome research under Dr. Metcalf. She is currently involved in several studies relating to the role of the microbiome in decomposition in the post-mortem interval.

Haley Davis:

Haley is a PhD student in Meat Science. She is originally from Bakersfield, CA and she was actively involved in FFA prior to college. Haley made the decision to attend CSU where she has completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Animal Sciences. Both her Master’s and Doctoral research are primarily focused in food safety, and she is currently working on a new application of antimicrobials via electrostatic technology. Haley hopes to continue working in food safety, and is proud to be a CSU Ram!

Heather Deel:

Heather was born and raised in Houston, Texas where she got her BS in Biology at Sam Houston State University. There, she became familiar with the body, which through various events, led her to pursue her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at CSU! Her hobbies include reading, video games, her cat, and exploring Colorado, as it is still very new to her!

Katelyn Fritsche:

Katelyn, is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Animal Sciences with concentrations of study in both Beef Systems and Reproductive Physiology, working under both Dr. Ahola and Dr. Rhoades. Her current research is centralized on a synchronization protocol in beef cows, in collaboration with Kansas State University and Idaho State University, focusing on the timing of GnRH injections. Katelyn was raised in southwestern Nebraska, as sixth generation on her family’s farming and ranching operation. She grew up showing Angus cattle, and livestock judging. She went to junior college on a full ride scholarship to livestock judge at Casper College in Wyoming, where she graduated with her Associate’s in Animal Sciences. She then made the decision to transfer to Colorado State University to continue her education. Since transferring, Katelyn has accomplished her Bachelor’s in Animal Sciences, as well as her Master’s in Biomedical Sciences specializing in Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Her drive for work in the livestock reproduction field is what has motivated her to also pursue her Ph.D. here at CSU, in order to obtain the qualifications needed for her to fully follow her passions and accomplish her goals in the livestock industry.

Kaysie Jennings:

Kaysie Jennings completed her B.S. and M.S. degrees at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Animal Breeding and Genetics under the guidance of Drs. Milt Thomas and Stephen Coleman. Her research focuses on how breeding and genetics can be utilized to reduce incidence of high altitude disease in cattle.

Mo Jia:

Mo Jia joined Colorado State University as a Ph.D student in 2015. His research focuses on using molecular genetic methods to solve questions for foodborne pathogens. He studies the CRISPR/Cas9 system to reduce pathogenic population specifically. Mo also investigated to eliminate pathogens with natural herb extracts. He received his bachelor degree in animal science at Colorado State University in 2012, and finished his master degree at South Dakota State University in 2014.

Miguel A. Sánchez-Castro:

Miguel received his Veterinary Medicine Degree from the Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora (ITSON) in 2013 and his Masters in Sciences in Animal Production Systems by the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) in 2016. During his master's studies, Miguel conducted a research stay in the department of Animal Sciences of Colorado State University from January to July of 2015, and a year later, he finally joined CSU as a PhD student in the academic program of Breeding & Genetics. Miguel's previous research focused on understanding the genetic basis of the adaptability of Holstein cows to heat stress, and now, his research focus is on the adaptability of Angus cattle to high altitudes.

Hugo Da Costa Santos:

Hugo was born and raised in São Paulo/SP, Brazil. His dream to work with animals started very early while working on his family farm during the summers. After high school, he moved to Pirassununga to start his undergrad program in Animal Sciences at the University of São Paulo. There, he participated in several extracurricular activities including event and people management, research and extension programs, and a one year exchange program at the University of California, Davis. He did several internship rotations with different animal production related areas and found his passion within animal physiology and nutrition. After acquiring his bachelor degree, Hugo decided to invest more in himself and applied for graduate school at Colorado State University. Nowadays, Hugo is working on his PhD program in Animal Nutrition with his research emphasized in microRNA profiles associated with development and persistence of equine metabolic syndrome.

Dustin Sargent-Davis:

I, Dustin M. Sargent-Davis, spent my early years in the Marine Corps. I was an infantry Marine with a primary MOS of 0351 Assaultman. I served 15 years (14 and some change) with several deployments, mostly combat. That story now seems like a lifetime ago, but only ended in 2014. I am retired from that job, though a bit earlier than I would have liked. After the Marine Corps, I was a bit lost. For 15 years I had been called Marine, now I was a Marine in civilian life. For the last 5 years, I have committed myself to school. I finished a degree that had been a culmination of failed attempts during my enlistment. I earned my second BS in Human Nutrition from Purdue after listening to someone give nutritional advice, for an unreasonable sum of money, that sounded like a scam. That is where this journey begins. I completed all the requirements for a MS degree in Human Nutrition. I then applied to Red Rocks MS Physician Assistant program and to CSU to pursue a DVM degree. No need for details here. However, I met Terry Engle before completing the pre-DVM check list requirements and knew where my new home resided. I am currently studying under the guidance of Shawn Archibeque trying to establish sound research on the efficacy of Hemp and Hemp by-products as a ruminant animal feed. I was recently asked by one of my old First Sergeants what I planned to do with a PhD. My response, was simple, “Work on trucks.”

Gilberto Solano:

Gilberto Solano is a Veterinary Doctor from Colombia. He interned for 1 year in Aurora Organic Dairy, (Texas, USA), and for 8 months in a Voluntary Milking System in Australia. He graduated from National University of Colombia in 2012; his focus is on Dairy Herd Health. He was part of a metritis research directed by Dr. Pablo Pinedo (J. Dairy Sci. 100:1-11) and a reproduction research directed by Dr. Juan Romano (Theriogenology Volume 90, 1 March 2017, Pages 219-227). He actually is Research Assistant with Dr. Pablo Pinedo in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University.

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