About Animal Physiology

Graduate studies in the Animal Physiology Program cover a broad range of physiological systems. Students may choose to major in general Animal Physiology, or to supplement their major with a formal specialization in various areas such as: reproductive physiology, muscle biology, and animal ethology. Study in reproductive physiology concentrates on improving the reproductive performance of pigs, cattle, sheep, and horses. The area of muscle biology focuses on the fundamental properties of muscle proteins and their roles in developing muscles and yielding muscle products. Research conducted in the ethology program aims to provide scientific answers to farm animal behavior and welfare in conventional and alternative production systems. Areas of interest for which formal specializations do not exist, may include neuroendocrinology, immunobiology, and perinatal development.

Research in the area of Animal Physiology utilizes state-of-the-art techniques in biochemistry, molecular biology, and light and electron microscopy in laboratories housed in Kildee Hall and the Molecular Biology Building. In addition to top quality laboratories, these buildings house animal rooms, surgery facilities, and analytical support labs. The research program in Animal Physiology is supported by access to the research herds located on the Department's outlying farms.

Examples of research of note conducted by physiology faculty and graduate students includes:

  • discovery of a new mechanism by which endocrine cells release hormones
  • discovery of key cytoskeletal proteins: actin, desmin, paranemin, synemin, talin, and vinculin
  • development of a synthetic skin that is applied to the teats of dairy cattle to prevent mastitis