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Washington State University Factsheets

Master of Science in Animal Sciences

Faculty working with Students: 16
Students: 31
Students receiving assistantships or scholarships: 93.55%
Priority deadline:
  • Fall January 10
  • Spring July 1
Campus:
  • Pullman: Yes
Tests required:
  • 1000 GRE (Combined) Minimum score
  • 550 TOEFL Minimum score

Degree Description:

Animal Sciences offers graduate work leading to the Master of Science degree with a major in animal science. Programs are flexible and designed to meet the needs and interests of the student and, as such, specific degree requirements are determined through individual consultation with an advisor and a special committee. The department maintains herds of dairy cattle, beef cattle, and swine for research and teaching purposes.

Admission Requirements:

For admission to Animal Sciences students must meet the Graduate School Requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes:

All graduates will be able to:

    1.  Thorough command of knowledge and understanding in an area of emphasis offered by the faculty in the Department of Animal Science.
    2.  An ability to apply the scientific method and critical scientific thought in the application of a hypothesis formation, and the design and execution of experiments.
    3.  Competency in collection, analyses, and reporting of data.
    4.  Apply ethical practice in data collection, analyses, and reporting and an awareness of multiple responsibilities and the impact of their professional conduct.
    5.  Competency in oral communication and scholarly writing in the form of a doctoral dissertation and peer reviewed scientific publications.
    6.  An ability to recognize and appreciate the multifaceted and dynamic relationship between science and society in a diverse world.

Student Opportunities:

Graduates from our program are employed in a wide range of careers from applied animal production to teaching and research of molecular mechanisms in domestic and companion animals, as well as humans. Graduate students acquire cutting-edge knowledge and techniques in disciplines that are vital to the improvement of quality of life for animals and humans.

Examples of ongoing fundamental research include: the use of mammalian comparative and functional genomics in the search for genes of economic significance including identification of genes involved in disease resistance as well as production traits; understanding molecular events coordinating the physiology of uterine and testis biology using the mouse and domestic ruminants as model organisms; understanding and enhancing skeletal and cardiac muscle growth and development with stem cell and gene therapy approaches; developing deterministic models to evaluate the environmental impact of dairy and beef production systems; and examination of the bovine genome to examine the genetic x nutrition interactions associated with feed efficiency in beef cattle.

Examples of important applied research include minimizing the impact of animals on the environment; altering animal nutrition to enhance meat quality; and strategies to understand and enhance animal behavior and well-being.

The department’s dairy, feedlot, beef cow-calf unit, feed mill, research laboratories, experimental animal building, and meats laboratory provide the foundation for the department’s bench-to-applications approach.

Career Opportunities:

National agricultural laboratories;
management, allied and agricultural industries;
Extension and technical positions;
Teaching positions.

Career Placements:

Research technologist, University of Washington, Seattle, WA;
Ph.D. students at other prestigious universities;
Research technologist, Human Nutrition Lab;
Associate in Animal Sciences research, Washington State University;
Teaching positions;
Animal behavioral scientists at zoos.

Faculty Members:

Benson, Margaret, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Research Interests

Variation in feed intake, feed efficiency and growth. Nutritional requirements of lactating ewes, effect of nutritional management on milk production, effect of pre-pubertal nutritional management on subsequent lactation performance of ewes.

Busboom, Jan Roger, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Identify sustainable pre- and post-harvest production systems that optimize profitability, meat quality, palatability, shelf-life and fatty acid content. Evaluating genetics, alternative feeds, finishing and post- mortem ageing.

Dodson, Michael Verne, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Du, Min, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Our research is focused on the development of skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Specifically, we are interested in exploring epigenetic mechanisms regulating the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into myocytes and adipocytes. Our studies have applications to both animal agriculture and human health.

Fox, Lawrence, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Determination of reservoirs and transmission of Mycoplasma sp. that cause mastitis in dairy cows. Determination of risk factors associated with mycoplasma mastitis and strategies that can be used to control its transmission. Control of S. aureus mastitis in heifers. Control of S. aureus mastitis in cows through the maintenance of healthy teat skin condition. Studies of exotoxins in milk: effects on milk quality and mammary immunity.

Harrison, Joseph Heywood, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Feed management and manure management practices that affect whole farm nutrient management, profitability, and environmental impact. Nutrients of interest are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Studies include the integration of feeding, crop management, manure management, and modeling. Additional projects focus on the fate and transport of pathogens in manure to the environment.

Jiang, Zhihua, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

COMPARATIVE RNA BIOLOGY Transcriptome analysis is fundamental to understanding the biochemical, cellular, physiological and environmental systems involved in the complex phenotypes that affect development, growth, reproduction and well-being in human and animals. In mammals, up to 75% of genes use alternative promoters, isoforms or polyadenylation sites, contributing greatly to transcriptome flexibility, diversity and dynamics. The long-term goal of our Comparative RNA Biology program is to create state-of-the-art tools for profiling the full transcriptome that will advance the field of functional genomics and increase its applicability to solve unmet problems in human health and animal productivity. We believe that accurate profiling of transcript variants will promote the discovery of genetic mutations that underlie complex phenotypes, aid in the selection of regulatory switch units for functional characterization, and discover alternative variants that can be used for disease diagnosis and drug discovery in humans and for biomarker selection in animals.

Specific Research Areas:
•Development of next-generation sequencing tools for profiling of alternative transcripts.
•Development of alternative transcript resources in animals and model organisms.
•Development of animal models to understand alternative transcripts and multi-functions of genes

Johnson, Kristen Ann, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

RUMINANT NUTRITION/BEEF CATTLE ENERGETICS. The focus of our research is to examine the use of dietary energy in the beef animal. This includes examination of the variation in maintenance energy expenditures and losses due to the fermentation occurring in the rumen. With up to 70% of total herd metabolizable energy intake going to maintenance functions, it is important to understand and examine the constituents of maintenance on a whole animal and cellular level and the relationship of these metabolic costs to animal productivity. Selection of adaptable cattle will reduce the cost of production. Current projects include an examination of energy expenditure at the whole animal, mitochondrial and gene level.
RUMINANTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES. Environmental issues are of increasing concern to the cattle industry. Our goal is to generate scientifically based information about air quality and ruminant production. Recent projects include the development of a measurement-based methane inventory and efforts to find economically sound mitigation options for cattle producers.

Llewellyn, Donald A, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Effective nutritional management of beef cattle to enhance low-quality forage utilization and performance, and reduce reproductive failure. Management strategies to reduce beef cattle production costs, including alternative forages and protein supplements. Validating effective approaches to measure forage quality and forage quality effects on feeding programs. Developing Extension programming geared toward reducing the incidence of Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) in cow/calf operations.

Maquivar, Martin, DVM, PhD

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

•Development, implementation and optimization of practical programs for synchronization of estrus, follicular development and estrus detection in beef cattle.
•Understanding the nutritional and endocrinological mechanisms that drive the sexual maturation and the onset of puberty in males and females.
•Development of a non-antimicrobial therapies to alleviate clinical metritis and endometritis and improve reproductive performance in dairy cattle.

McNamara, John P, Ph.D.

Serves as: member only on graduate committee

Neibergs, Holly Louise, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

My research interests are focused on identifying loci associated with complex traits to better understand the physiology of the trait and to utilize the variants for genomic selection. Current studies are aimed at investigating loci associated with heifer and cow conception rate, feed efficiency and susceptibility to bovine respiratory disease.

Nelson, Mark Loge, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

•Manipulation of fermentation in the rumen to affect rate of digestion, rate of passage, bacterial protein synthesis and (or) methane production.
•Nutritional effects on meat composition and palatability.
•Chemistry of the cell wall of feedstuffs.

Progar, Amber Adams, PhD

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Dairy Cattle Behavior and Welfare. My lab studies behavioral and physiological indicators of stress in dairy cattle to improve on-farm management practices. Our goal is to develop a better understanding of how production practices affect dairy cattle welfare and determine best management practices that promote better health, well-being, and performance in dairy cattle.
Specific Research Areas:

Identify reliable measurements of stress in cattle by integrating behavioral and endocrinal stress responses
Evaluate how technological advances in dairy management impact cattle behavior and well-being
Determine how to manage environmental stressors that negatively affect dairy calf health, well-being, and performance

Pru, James K, Ph.D.

Serves as: chair, co-chair, or member on graduate committee

Research Interests

Maternal embryonic interactions and endometrial regeneration.

Rodgers, Buel D, Ph.D.

Research Interests

Molecular endocrinology and genomics of muscle development.

Contact Information:

Holly Neibergs, PhD
PO Box 64-6351
ASLB 210
Pullman, WA 99164-6351
509-335-6491
509-335-1082