University of Vermont

Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences (ASCI)

Graduate Students
Grad Office:  203 Terrill

Both MS and PhD degrees are offered through the Department of Animal Sciences. Currently all graduate programs involve a combination of courses and graduate research for a thesis. Areas of study broadly correspond to the specializations and research interests of the faculty. The following is a sample of graduate research currently being conducted by our graduate students:

Melissa BainbridgeMelissa Bainbridge is originally from Burlington, Massachusetts. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2011 with a B.S. in Animal Science. She then spent the next two years working as a field technician for the Vermont Dairy Herd Improvement Association. Melissa will be working on her Ph.D. in Animal, Nutrition and Food Sciences with Dr. Jana Kraft. Her research will focus on improving the nutritional attributes of milk, concentrating on bioactive fatty acids, to promote both human and animal health. Melissa also enjoys hiking, cooking and running.  Email:

Aimee BenjaminAimee Benjamin, originally from the small town of Bernhards Bay, NY, received her B.S. degree from Cornell University in 2005. Following graduation she worked at the Cornell Dairy Facility where she became an integral part of the herd health team. Aimee will be working in Dr. David Kerr's lab towards a Ph.D. in Dairy Science. Her research interests are E. coli mastitis and the immune system response following infection.  Email:

Mac CampbellMackenzie "Mac" Campbell, originally from Reisterstown, Maryland, received his B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012. Following graduation, he worked at both the Maryland University Dairy and a livestock biomedical research facility before coming to graduate school. He will be working towards his M.S. under Dr. Rick Grant at the William H Miner Institute in Chazy, New York, as well as taking classes at UVM. His research will focus on the effects of overcrowding lactating dairy cattle and variance in physically effective neutral detergent fiber rations on cattle behavior, health, and production.  Email:

Bonnie CantrellBonnie Cantrell is originally from Caldwell, Idaho. She graduated from Washington State University in 2014 with a B.S. in Animal Science. During her time there, she worked for the Animal Science Department in a bovine genetics laboratory. She worked on projects in the laboratory to help decrease disease susceptibility of Johne's disease and Bovine Respiratory Disease in bovine. Bonnie will be working on her Ph.D. in Animal, Nutrition and Food Sciences with Dr. Stephanie McKay. Her research will focus on finding methylation in multiple regions of the bovine brain that correlate with docility. Bonnie also enjoys crafting in her spare time.

Laura CersosimoLaura Cersosimo grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. In 2011 she received her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut where she was a member of the Dairy Club and taught first-year Animal Science students how to show dairy cows. During the summers of 2010 and 2011 she interned at Pfizer's Comparative Medicine Department. She attended Northeastern University in Boston for a year and then transferred into the ANFS Ph.D. program at UVM. Laura's research focuses on looking at methanogen populations within five breeds of dairy cattle along with other ruminants. One of her favorite interests outside of school is baking, especially cake decorating. Email:

Sue IshaqSuzanne Ishaq is originally from Worcester, Massachusetts.  She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2007 as a Justin Morrill Honors Scholar with a BS in Animal Science and a minor in Nutrition and Food Sciences. From 2007 to 2010, she worked as a technician at a local small animal hospital. Sue started her Ph.D. in Animal, Nutrition and Food Sciences in July 2010. Her research focus is on methane production and ways to reduce it, and how this reduction may be applied across various ruminant species. Email:

Shun KitaokaShun Kitaoka was born in the city of Takamatsu, Japan.  Shun received his B.S. in Biology and his M.S. in Biological Science at Okayama University. For the last four years he has been a research scientist at BioResearch Laboratory, BioBusiness Development at Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Shun is pursuing a Ph.D. in Dr. Feng-Qi Zhao's lab. He will be conducting research on glucose transporter genes in Caenorhabditis Elegans, as it relates to diabetes. After receiving his Ph.D. he plans to return to Japan to continue his scientific research at Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Shun enjoys playing the piano and golfing.  Email:

Filiz KorkmazFiliz Korkmaz is originally from Wrentham, Massachusetts.  She studied at the University of Massachusetts where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology. She joined the Cellular, Molecular and Biomedical Sciences PhD program in August 2012 and is working on her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. David Kerr. Her research is focused on the innate immune response to bovine mastitis and, in particular, how the immune response may be regulated epigenetically. Outside the lab, she enjoys running, skiing, cooking and traveling.  Email:

Robert MugabiRobert Mugabi was born and raised in the small district of Lyantonde in Uganda where he received his primary and high school education, Later Robert joined Makerere University in Uganda where he received his Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He completed a Master of Science degree in Infectious Disease Management and Biosecurity from North Dakota State University and has joined UVM to pursue his Ph.D. He will be working in Dr. John Barlow's lab focusing his research on Staphylococcus aureus molecular epidemiology and biofilm formation of different isolates in cattle farms. Email:

Mital PandyaMital Pandya, originally from Columbus, OH, received her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Sciences from Ohio State University in 2006. She completed her Master's Degree in Veterinary Public Health from the same university in 2007. Following graduation she worked as a research assistant at Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Orient Point, NY. Mital will be working in Dr. John Barlow's lab towards a Ph.D. in Animal Science and Immunology. Her research interests are Foot and Mouth Disease and the immune system response in bovine following vaccination or infection.  Email: 

Rink TacomaRink Tacoma is originally from the Netherlands and immigrated with her family at the age of two to New Zealand where in 2012 she completed her BSc in Animal Science at Lincoln University. Rink also worked at Penn State as a research technician before starting her Ph.D. program at UVM. She is currently working on her Ph.D. with Dr. Sabrina Greenwood in dairy nutrition, specifically looking at diet and milk protein interactions. She enjoys being in the outdoors with good company.   Email:

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Last modified January 21 2015 11:01 AM

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