Ph.D., Crop and Soil Environmental Science, 2017, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
B.S., Biology, 2013, University of Central Florida
2017-Present – Extension Specialist, Ruminant Livestock Systems, Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Tech
2013-2017 – Research Assistant, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech
My research focuses on nutritional and environmental management strategies for improving the profitability and sustainability of ruminant production systems. Specifically, we are evaluating strategies for mitigating the effects of heat stress on Virginia livestock. The summer slump – when the productivity of grazing livestock declines during the summer months – is often exacerbated by a decline in forage productivity, the use of toxic tall fescue in grazing systems, a lack of shade and appropriate water sources for livestock, and intensifying climatic extremes. We are exploring various options to minimize the summer slump, including the use of silvopasture as a shade source for livestock, summer stockpiling of forages, and the conversion of toxic fall fescue pastures to novel endophyte tall fescue or alternative non-toxic forage-based pastures. We are utilizing various novel technologies to understand the impact of heat, shade, and forage species on the productivity and well-being of cattle, including acoustic detection of ingestive behavior, time-lapse imagery for characterizing behavior, and other wearable technologies for monitoring the thermal status and activity of free-ranging livestock.
Role of Graduate Students
Graduate students play a central role in the development and implementation of our research programs. Taking responsibility for projects is a key factor in succeeding as a graduate student, while collaborating together as a group enables us to solve complex problems. As students develop their own research projects, they are encouraged to address not just proximate, but also ultimate, causation.
In collaboration with colleagues in Animal Science and Agricultural Economics, we plan to evaluate various strategies for finishing beef cattle in a pasture-based system. We will also evaluate the economic implications of retaining and pasture-finishing variable frame sized cattle with and without supplementation. In addition, we plan to compare hulless barley and corn as energy sources for finishing
My extension efforts and research efforts are directly connected. When concerns, ideas, and questions are relayed to me from farmers and extension agents, I determine potential solutions through the existing body of knowledge and evaluate those solutions through research and demonstration programming. I also work closely with specialists across disciplines to develop integrative solutions to complex farm problems. Currently, most of my efforts are focused on strategies for minimizing the “summer slump” in pasture-based livestock production systems.
The goal of my programming is to protect the health of our land and rural communities through the appropriate productivity of grassland agriculture. This community-centric approach relies on close relationships with farmers, extension agents, and specialists to identify problems that can be addressed by practical research-based information, as well as to make interdisciplinary connections for solving complex problems.
Southern Piedmont AREC
2975 Darvills Road
Blackstone, VA 23824