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1890 Partnerships - Animal Production and Protection
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The following is a list of ARS scientists in Animal Production and Protection research who are interested in hosting 1890 faculty members in their labs through the 1890 Faculty Research Sabbatical Program. This page will be updated on a rolling basis – please come back to visit again!

Marina Ascunce (Gainesville, Florida), 352-374-5706

Researcher's statement: I am broadly interested in all aspects of genetics, genomics, microbiome and host-parasite interactions of arthropod pests.  I am located at the Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research Unit at the Center for Medical, Agriculture, and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE), Gainesville, Florida.  Our work is focused on invasive ants.  Current projects include the analysis of genetic diversity of invasive and native ants, and the identification of microbes that could be used for biocontrol.  I am particularly interested in developing new projects using single cell technology, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Brad Bearson (Ames, Iowa)


Researcher’s statement: Investigation of Salmonella colonization and pathogenesis in swine and turkeys for development of interventions (vaccines, probiotics, prebiotics, immunomodulators, bacteriophage therapy) to enhance animal production. Genomic and phenotypic characterization of a pork outbreak-associated, multidrug-resistant Salmonella enterica serovar I 4,[5],12:i:- isolate containing Salmonella Genomic Island 4 (SGI-4), a metal tolerance island.  Modification of an attenuated Salmonella Typhimurium vaccine strain as a platform for expression of foreign antigens and immunization of food-producing animals against disease.

Benjamin H. Beck (Auburn, Alabama); 334-887-2983 ext. 112

Researcher’s statement: The catfish industry is the largest segment of US aquaculture and shrimp production represents a smaller, but important sector. Improving the health of catfish, shrimp, and other warmwater species is important for long-term sustainability of these industries because losses due to disease are a significant impact to production.  There is a need to develop new and improved vaccines as well as to identify feed additives that may boost immune readiness of fish and shrimp. Research is needed to determine how different feed amendments influence growth, performance, immune parameters and survival of fish and shrimp following pathogen challenge. This research will increase our understanding of the host immune responses governing disease outcomes and will aid in the development of safe and efficacious vaccines and feed additives for the prevention of disease in aquaculture.

Seth Britch (Gainesville, Florida); 302-388-3655

Researcher’s statement: Our research program consists of two complementary domains, (i) investigating the environmental limits of pesticide efficacy and developing novel integrated vector management (IVM) systems, and (ii) investigating historical associations between climate variation and population dynamics of disease vector mosquitoes and sand flies to develop predictive systems protecting endemic and emerging regions from severe vector borne disease. In (i) we conduct field and laboratory research in an array of ecological regions at field sites in Kenya, Thailand, Greece, California, South Carolina, and Florida, targeting a range of natural and laboratory reared populations of disease vector mosquitoes and sand flies with diverse combinations of application technology and botanical and synthetic adulticides, larvicides, and spatial repellents. A substantial focus in (i) is protecting U.S. military war fighters in austere field environments from severe nuisance and disease vector insects by the use of innovative IVM applications of military field materials and equipment and development of a Mobile Pesticide App decision support system. In (ii) we collaborate closely with NASA and DoD partners to develop landscape scale predictive models of Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) activity in endemic regions of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and link these predictions through transport pathways to high-risk areas of the United States highlighted by historical climate-mosquito dynamics and seasonal environmental signals. A substantial focus of (ii) is analyzing >60 years of U.S. mosquito collection records and long-term normalized difference vegetation indices and other remotely sensed climate data.     

Joan Burke (Booneville, AR); 479-849-5399

Researcher’s statement: Research focuses on sustainable production for small and mid-size farmers including organic and grass-fed production systems, the control of gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep including alternatives to synthetic anthelmintics, nutrition, and genetic selection for parasite resistant animals.   

Katrina Counihan (Wyndmoor, PA), 215-233-6420

Researcher’s statement: My research focuses on developing assays for the detection, quantification, and characterization of foodborne pathogens. I am currently investigating the use of next generation sequencing technology for pathogen identification.

Abasiofiok Mark Ibekwe (Riverside, California); 951-369-4828

Researcher’s statement: Dr. Ibekwe is an internationally recognized expert on the following research areas with active research: (1) Microbial ecology and metagenomics of plant-microbe interactions with human enteric pathogens; (2) metagenomics based bacterial source tracking and constructed wetlands for the removal of contaminants for water quality evaluation; (3) persistence of human enteric pathogens in the pre-harvest environment; (4) metagenomics of antimicrobials in agroecosystems; and (5) characterization of soil microbial community as a critical component of soil quality and health.

John Keele (Clay Center, Nebraska), 402-762-4251

Researcher's statement: Interested in horn flies on cattle, detecting and counting horn flies on cattle  in images using machine learning or artificial intelligence, estimating heritability and genetic correlations for the whole genome or regions of the genome, DNA pooling and analysis of DNA pooling results based on SNP microarrays or DNA sequencing. 

Andrew Li (Beltsville, Maryland); 301-504-5401

Researcher’s statement: General research area - Tick biology and control; Specific research topics include (1) tick artificial feeding systems and feeding physiology, (2) tick behavioral response to repellents and attractants, and (3) pesticide bioassays.

Amanda Lindholm-Perry (Clay Center, Nebraska) 762-4189


William Oliver (Clay Center, Nebraska) 762-4206

Researchers’ statement: Our research priorities include identification of molecular markers that underlie feed efficiency in cattle and swine. Projects in our labs include those that identify or validate DNA variants (SNPs), changes in gene expression, metabolic markers, and variation in gut or fecal microbial populations. We are also interested in projects to integrate these types of large -omics datasets to produce robust profiles of highly feed efficient animals.

Monika Proszkowiec-Weglarz (Beltsville, Maryland); 301-504-9403

Researcher’s statement: Overall, our research focusses on understanding the host-microflora interactions that influence gut health and that are critical for developing strategies to increase the efficiency of broilers chicken without antibiotic growth promoters (AGP). Our project establishes how practical alternative strategies to AGP can direct a change in the microflora and metabolite milieu to maintain or even increase the stability of the gut under bouts of stress. Specifically, my research focuses on microbiome development in broiler chickens.

Ben Rosen (Beltsville, Maryland); 530-574-4761

Researcher’s statement: My lab focuses on the assembly and annotation of ruminant genomes.  We are interested in cataloging genetic diversity from SNPs to structural variants.  We have data from both long and short read sequencing platforms and would also like to begin comparative genomic studies across ruminant species.

Perot Saelao (Kerrville, Texas),  (830) 792-0327

Researcher’s statement: I am broadly interested in all aspects of genetics and genomics of arthropod pests. Specifically, I am interested in exploring methods that can be developed computationally to mitigate tick and tick-borne diseases. This includes the development of vaccine targets using reverse vaccinology, application of bioinformatic tools to identify resistant/susceptibility loci, and investigations population genetic differences. I would love to partner with any molecular or application scientists to complement my bioinformatic skills.

Glen Scoles (Beltsville, Maryland) 504-5166

Researcher’s statement: Research falls under the new Project Plan entitled “Ticks and Human Health.” One of the goals of the project is to develop improved tools for management and control of ticks that feed on people and transmit pathogens such as Lyme disease and babesiosis. Ticks will be collected from various sites in the field and transported to the laboratory where we will use molecular approaches to determine the tick species and the pathogens carried by each individual tick.  Another goal will be to refine methods for the molecular identification of host remnant blood meals in questing ticks. These studies will lead to an improved understanding of the natural enzootic cycles of tick-borne pathogens, which will aid the development of control strategies.

Katie Lynn Summers (Beltsville, Maryland); 301-504-8760

Researcher’s statement: My laboratory investigates the weaning transition in piglets to identify potential antibiotic alternatives to promote optimal growth. Our research focuses on the microbiome, with an emphasis on the mycobiome, and uses a combination of in vivo and in vitro systems to investigate important microbes and their interactions. 

Steven Trabue (Ames, Iowa); 515-294-0201

Researcher’s statement: Our research focuses on the impact animal production systems have on both the animal and environment.  Our group has active research into the following areas: 1) Determining the impact indoor air quality has on swine growth and performance; 2) Calculating nutrient inventories for C, N, and S from gas emissions, manure, and animal retention based on animal and feed inputs (i.e., mass balance approach); 3) Monitoring N and S loss during pumping and field application of manure; and 4) Determining the impact swine diet formulation has on manure and gas emissions.

William C. Wilson (Manhattan, Kansas); 785-537-5570

Researcher’s statement: The mission of the Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit is to provide scientific information to protect U.S. livestock from domestic, exotic, and emerging arthropod-borne animal and zoonotic pathogens.  Rapid field-based genetic detection and characterization systems are being developed.  The project would be to optimize a field-base genetic characterization system for unbiased characterization of viral RNA isolated from mosquitoes and/or animals. 

Vivian Wu (Albany, CA); 510-559-5829                    

Researcher’s statement: My research focuses on food safety and animal health. My research team conducts fundamental and applied research to improve the safety of the nation's food supply and develop diagnostic detection to prevent the spread of animal diseases. We utilize genomic methods to elucidate the interplay between bacteriophages and their bacterial hosts in the environment to enhance the safety of food products and prevent the emergence of foodborne pathogens. We develop novel interventions to remove or minimize contamination by pathogenic microorganisms in foods. We advance molecular-, genomic-, and nanotechnology-based biosensors and diagnostic methods for the detection of pathogens.