Division of Animal Sciences
My research program involves dietary modifications that effect microbial populations in the digestive tract of ruminants and nonruminants. My laboratory conducts research with animals that range from food-producing domesticated species to cooperative research with the St. Louis Zoo on captive exotic species. Research is conducted through an active graduate student program. My laboratory has strong collaborative ties with Missouri's commodity group organizations. Research projects are centered in animal nutrition and have outcomes in improving nutritive value of feed ingredients, efficiency of animal growth, carcass and meat value, and waste nutrient and odor reduction. My laboratory has strong involvement in beef research programs and the Center for Agroforestry.
A major research thrust of my laboratory encompasses understanding nutritional and metabolic influences on gain efficiency of cattle. Gain efficiency is the most important factor effecting beef production profitability. Gain efficiency is affected by digestible nutrient ratios in the diet, mitochondrial respiration efficiency, and efficiency of tissue accretion. My laboratory is conducting research to determine optimum amino acid to energy ratios that maximize gain efficiency. This research involves modeling bacterial flow from the rumen and developing empirical equations that optimize diet formulation to animal performance. This research encompasses developing rumen-stable amino acid oligomers and diet interventions that prevent pathogen shedding by the feedlot animal. My laboratory is also conducting research determining the relationship between mitochondrial metabolism and gain efficiency. Specific research thrusts consist of collaborative efforts to measure mitochondrial protein expression, and identify mitochondrial proteins that differ between efficient and inefficient contemporaries. In addition to understanding the biological reason for energetic differences among animals, we are also seeking for a physiological and/or functional genomics marker for metabolic efficiency. Finally, we are using our discoveries in diet formulation and selection for efficiency to reduce waste volume by over one-half compared to conventional feeding strategies.