Summary: In the Lactation Physiology lab, we employ a multi-factorial and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of lactation. We study the metabolic changes in the body that enable lactation to occur and the impacts of environmental and metabolic stressors on lactation performance and maternal health. We are also interested in how maternal stressors alter offspring development and health through variation in milk yield and composition
Minimum classes: Introductory biology
Project 1. Wildfires are increasing in size and severity and this is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Wildfire smoke releases a number of air toxics that are hazardous to breathe. We are investigating the impacts of wildfire smoke exposure on milk production, health, and behavior using the dairy cow as a model.
Project 2. The maternal environment can be conveyed to young through bioactive signals contained in milk, which can alter the developmental trajectory to permanently impact offspring physiology and behavior. We are exploring how various stressors, such as social stress and immune challenges, program offspring immunocompetence and growth through the transfer of hormones and immune factors in milk.
In our research we work hands-on with animals, largely with dairy cattle and lab rodents (rats and mice). We employ a variety of traditional and advanced laboratory techniques, such as immunoassays, histological methods (sectioning and staining), molecular techniques (isolating RNA, RT-PCR), and wet chemistry assays. Students will be involved in animal handling, biological sample collection, and laboratory research.