I grew up on an acreage in central Illinois and have always loved animals. As a kid, my dream was to find a job that would allow me to work around dogs, but I didn’t want to become a veterinarian. I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in companion animal nutrition. I enjoy nutrition because the focus is keeping your pets healthy and living longer. I came to UNL in 2006. I coordinate the undergraduate program in companion animals (dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets). I teach courses on behavior, nutrition, and management of companion animals. I serve as the faculty adviser to the undergraduate student organization SEECA (Students for Education in Exotic and Companion Animals). I also work with the 4-H programs in companion animals. It’s fun to teach kids about their pets and hear all their stories and examples of what they have learned. One program I teach is a monthly only 4-H meeting for kids about cats.
What is your position at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln?
I am an assistant professor in animal science. I teach four undergraduate courses related to companion animals and coordinate the companion animal science option for animal science majors. In addition, I am the undergraduate teaching coordinator for the animal science major. I also have a 50 percent extension appointment working with 4-H youth in companion animal programs.
What drew you to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln?
As I was finishing up my post-doc at the University of Illinois, Nebraska had opened a teaching position in the companion animal area. I was excited about helping to grow and develop a companion animal undergraduate program. I love the friendliness of Nebraska and the university felt so welcoming.
What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?
I love advising students. I enjoy getting to know them and talking to them about their lives and goals. I think it’s fun to know about their own personal companion animals and hear how they can apply what they are learning to their lives. It’s such a neat experience to see them develop over the time they are students and then out in a career.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I think my greatest achievement is helping to develop and grow the companion animal science program at UNL. When I started in 2006, there was one course offered related to companion animals. Since then, we have developed an option for majors and offer four courses. Currently, almost 40 percent of all animal science majors are interested in working with companion or exotic animals.
What is something that most people don't know about you?
I come from a large family in central Illinois where my grandparents had 19 children and have over 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
What is your life like outside of work?
I live with my daughter Lauren who is a high school freshman so I spend a lot of time driving her around to activities–soccer, cross country and band. At home, we have two Shetland Sheepdogs, Prince and Dempsey, two cats, Sunset and Lightning, two Lionhead rabbits, Mocha and Cinnamon, and two Guinea pigs, Leo and Grover. I also serve on the board of directors of Hawks FC, a nonprofit soccer organization that focuses on helping low income youth in Nebraska be able to participate on competitive soccer teams.