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Joshua Selsby, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science
Post- Doctoral Fellows
Ph.D. – Toxicology
Iowa State University, Ames, IA
Heat-related issues are a major health concern in both humans and animals. In addition to less serious health consequences, in humans heat stress causes cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and even death. Indeed, in 2003, 50,000 Europeans, in 2006, 655 Americans, and in 2015, 1,800 Indians and 1200 Pakistani died because of heat stress. Heat stress also negatively affects animal production and welfare. The U.S. swine industry is facing approximately $300 million loss annually due to heat stress. One of the reasons for this economic loss is reduced muscle mass and increased adipose tissues which results in decreased meat value. Despite the broad negative impacts of heat stress, little is known about heat stress mediated changes in skeletal muscle. Thus my research is focused on molecular and cellular mechanism of heat stress-induced changes in skeletal muscle.
Alexandra Brownstein, Interdepartmental Genetic
B.S. – Biology
University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Heat stress has both medical implications for humans and negative effects for animal welfare and production agriculture. However not much is known about the mechanisms by which heat stress leads to disease and death. My research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms and processes that occur during heat stress in skeletal muscle. More recently I have started a new project focused on heat stress recovery, and what happens in skeletal muscle after an exposure to heat stress. I will be working with pig skeletal muscle that has been exposed to heat stress followed by several days of recovery under thermal neutral conditions in which no heat stress was administered. These tissues will be compared with skeletal muscle tissues that were never exposed to heat stress in order to determine how the muscle responds after the stress if removed.
Hannah Spaulding, Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology
B.A. – Biology
Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, MN
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive muscle wasting disease that affects young boys and rapidly renders their muscles dysfunctional. I am working on evaluating the use of quercetin as a treatment to maintain muscle function and preserve the overall structure of the muscles injured by muscular dystrophy. Quercetin is found in nature and been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and causes an increase in the prevalence of utrophin, a protein that can assist the muscle in producing more force. We hypothesized that through treatment with quercetin the dystrophic muscles can be improved both functionally and structurally leading to increased strength and mobility for muscular dystrophy patients.
Olga Volodina, Biomedical Sciences
B.S. – Animal Science
Iowa State University, Ames, IA
In order to use dystrophinopathy pig models, we must train them to perform specific behaviors to allow data collection. To accomplish this, we use positive reinforcement training. Positive reinforcement training (PRT) has been successfully used for laboratory, companion, marine, and zoo animals. The objective of PRT has been to reduce animal stress during human-animal interactions, to improve worker safety and to provide environmental enrichment. This type of operant conditioning uses a primary reinforcer (i.e. food) as a reward for a desired behavior that the animal has performed. A continuous reinforcer (i.e. a clicker) can be used as a “bridge” to pair the desired animal behavior and the primary reinforcer together. One of tests that the pigs perform is walking over a GaitFour Analysis, a floor mat designed to measure the gait of an animal or human. Therefore, the objective of using PRT in this setting is to enourage the pigs to walk across the mat to allow measurement of gait.
Katerina Hertzberg, Biology
Sydney Hill, Animal Science
Former Lab Members
Delphine Gardan-Salmon (Post-doc 2008-2010)
Katrin Hollinger (Ph.D. student, IG, 2010-2014)
Sandra Rosado (MS student, IG, 2012-2013)