Student Profile: Students on graduate school

The Department of Animal Science offers a solid graduate program supported by a current curricula,  faculty mentors who are well-known experts in their field of study, and the animal and facility resources needed to excel  in a successful research program. On average, more than 120 students are enrolled in graduate studies, seeking either a master’s or doctorate degree in animal breeding, animal science or physiology of reproduction. Several animal science faculty and their graduate students participate in interdisciplinary degree programs including biotechnology and genetics. In addition, students may pursue a certificate in meat science or a certificate in food safety to accompany their degree. Advanced study in these areas prepares students to pursue careers in academia, research, extension education, livestock and dairy production, and in industries involving feed technology, livestock products, development and application of biotechnology and livestock managements. On a regular basis, our graduate students are recognized at the university and national levels for their teaching and research achievements.


Doctorate, Physiology of Reproduction;
Expected August 2015

Ashley B. Keith is seeking a doctorate in physiology of reproduction working under the direction of Dr. Carey Satterfield and Dr. Kathrin Dunlap. Her primary research focuses on the consequences of maternal nutrient restriction on placental development and function, along with subsequent fetal development, in ruminants. As a graduate student, Ashley teaches lab sections for ANSC 433 – Reproduction in Farm Animals, serves as chair of the Animal Science Graduate Student Association and is the animal science representative for the Graduate Student Council. She received the Ronnie L. Edwards Graduate Teaching Award in 2012. Upon graduation in August 2015, Ashley hopes to continue in education and research in an animal science or physiology faculty position. Ashley earned a bachelor’s in animal science from Texas A&M.

Why did you choose Texas A&M for your graduate studies?
As an undergraduate, I received the chance to work on a research project in Dr. Satterfield’s lab, which sparked my interest in focusing on placental development and intrauterine growth restriction.  The opportunity to study under his instruction, along with Drs. Kathrin Dunlap, Fuller Bazer and Guoyao Wu, for my graduate career was one that I could not pass up, as they are some of the top researchers in this field of study.  Also, as an alumnus of the university and department, I knew the prominence and the exceptional atmosphere that exists throughout the educational, research and extension programs.

raul-valdez-editRAUL VALDEZ

Master of Science, Animal Science; Expected December 2013
Raul Valdez is seeking a master of science in animal science under the direction of Dr. Clay Cavinder. The primary focus of his research is to assess blood plasma concentrations of testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and estrone sulfate in stallions following hemicastration in order to provide insight to better understand the hormonal profiles in stallions following hemicastration. Raul teaches a lab section for ANSC 311 – Equine Behavior and Training; ANSC 420 – Equine Production and Management; and ANSC 481 – Seminar. He coaches the Stock Horse Team and helped guide them to the 2012 National Championship and the 2013 Reserve National Championship. He has traveled to Norway, Sweden, Poland and Switzerland with a group of Texas A&M equine students who conducted horsemanship clinics. Upon graduation, Raul plans to pursue a doctorate in animal science and continue his research in equine reproductive physiology.

How have you been able to tailor your graduate studies to prepare you for the future?
Between going to class, studying for exams, teaching labs, research, and extracurricular activities, graduate school is challenging and may seem overwhelming. However, graduate school is worth all the sleepless nights and long days. I have learned a significant amount about my graduate area of focus through my courses, the professors, and the research that I have conducted.  I have had great opportunities to work with knowledgeable faculty members who have guided me through school with the ultimate goal of working in the equine industry.  Because of the many expectations of graduate school, I have developed my written and oral communication skills as well as a strong work ethic.


Master of Science, Animal Science and Graduate Certificate in Meat Science, 2013
meagan-igo-editMeagan Igo joined the American Meat Science Association as youth programs coordinator in July 2013. Primarily, she provides support for the current intercollegiate and 4-H meat judging programs and plans to enhance and expand education for future generations of meat scientists at the primary, secondary and university levels. Meagan graduated from Texas A&M with a master of science in animal science with a graduate certificate in meat science in August 2013 working under the direction of Dr. Jeff Savell.

You’ve been involved with the judging program for years including serving as coach for the Texas A&M Meat Judging Team. Explain how these experiences help you in your current job.
My judging and coaching of judging teams is what gave me my passion for working with students, and in particular the judging program. There is something special about working with students who want to be involved in a program and have a desire to be successful in an industry I care so much about. My coaching experience allowed me to have a deeper knowledge of my trade and to have a better understanding of the current judging program. Texas A&M and the meat science section gave me a great opportunity to pursue my dreams both coaching and with my career, as this was the job I told Dr. Davey Griffin and Dr. Jeff Savell I wanted when coming to College Station for my graduate program interviews. They encouraged me to pursue the opportunity when it became available.



Master of Science, Animal Science, 2013
Kyle Weldon joined Anipro/Xtraformance Feeds in College Station in June 2013 as a beef cattle nutritionist/technical support. He provides support to the sales staff and provides consulting and nutrition advice to cow-calf producers across the United States. Kyle graduated with a master of science in animal science in 2013 and worked under the direction of Dr. Tryon Wickersham.

How did your degree prepare you for your current job?
Working in Dr. Wickersham’s ruminant nutrition lab was tremendous in preparing me for my new job. Along with a great set of graduate courses, the research conducted in our lab and out at the barn with the animals facilitated a great number of opportunities to learn and develop skills that can be applied to my job in the industry.  My research was focused on supplementation of low-quality forages and improving our understanding of nitrogen metabolism of different beef cattle subspecies. With the drought conditions in the U.S., gaining a better understanding of how to improve the utilization of poor quality forages that must be fed under these conditions is critical for the beef industry. I still have much to learn, but I know that I have a solid foundation from my time at Texas A&M.


Master of Science, Animal Breeding, 2010; Doctorate, Animal Breeding, 2013
Lauren L. Hulsman Hanna is an assistant professor of genetic improvement of livestock at North Dakota State University in Fargo. She joined their faculty in June 2013 and is responsible for teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in genetics and animal breeding as well as other courses depending on departmental needs. Also, she develops educational materials pertaining to genetics and modern livestock animal breeding, is responsible for advising undergraduate students, provides mentorship to clubs as needed, and actively participates in graduate student training. Her research will focus on genetic improvement of livestock, particularly in beef cattle. Lauren is a three-time graduate of Texas A&M. She received a bachelor’s of animal science in 2007; a master of science in animal breeding in 2010 under the direction of Dr. Clare Gill; and a doctorate in animal breeding in 2013 under the direction of Dr. David Riley.

How did your graduate degrees prepare you for your job?
I was fortunate to experience both a research assistantship and a teaching assistantship through my degree programs. I am extremely thankful for those opportunities as they allowed me to see and experience both sides of academia. The research assistantship allowed me the hands-on training in the lab or on side projects that really expanded my understanding of animal breeding and genetics. My teaching assistantship not only allowed me to become more confident in my teaching ability, but also created a stronger passion for helping students understand my field of study. Balancing those with my own projects and courses helped strengthen my time management skills, but most importantly I had advisors who were very supportive of allowing me to become highly involved in organizations on campus.


For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at or (979) 845-1542.

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