NIBSI gains momentum with four new faculty hires

Kacie McCarthy, Ruth Woiwode, Yijie Xiong, and Pablo Loza.
The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has hired four new faculty as part of the Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems Initiative (NIBSI). From Left to right, starting at the top: Kacie McCarthy, Ruth Woiwode, Yijie Xiong, and Pablo Loza.
May 8, 2020

Lincoln, Neb. —The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has hired four new faculty as part of the Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems Initiative (NIBSI).

Launched in 2016, NIBSI is designed to leverage the many systems-based efforts underway at Nebraska to advance science-driver innovation in the development of resilient systems for food animal production, health and well-being, and to train the diverse workforce required.

Clinton Krehbiel, Animal Science Department head says there is no other place that can put a team like this together.

“Each of the new faculty members has unique talents, and each fills a gap in our program and really move us forward not only in the NIBSI hub, but animal agriculture in general. I am super excited for all of them to be on board,” Krehbiel said.

Kacie McCarthy

Kacie McCarthy has been appointed as assistant professor and beef cow-calf specialist, based in the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. McCarthy has already begun her teaching and extension duties. In January, McCarthy began teaching a 400-level cow-calf management class to about 60 students. In the fall she will also be teaching livestock management on range and pasture.

McCarthy will collaborate with faculty in the Center for Grassland studies to establish a more cohesive cow-calf ranch internship program. She will transition to a leadership role within the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars program and plans to assist with the industry study tour. McCarthy will also have statewide cow-calf extension responsibilities. She will develop extension programming around reproductive and nutrition topics.

“Kacie will strengthen our outreach component with producers but also be a pipeline for our beef educators throughout the state,” Krehbiel said. “She has great expertise in all things cow-calf production. She’ll fill a nice niche for the ranching community for those producers.”

McCarthy grew up on a small family farm and ranch in northern California, and began her undergraduate career at California State University-Chico playing softball. She later transferred to Colorado State University, where she received her undergraduate degree in animal science. McCarthy received her master’s in animal science and ruminant nutrition at Mexico State University. During her time there she was a coaching graduate assistant for the softball team while working in the animal science department. She pursued her passion of focusing on research and cow-calf extension work and got her doctorate from North Dakota State University, studying mineral and energy implementation strategies to beef cattle on pasture.

Ruth Woiwode

Ruth Woiwode has been appointed as assistant professor of behavior and well-being, based in the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Woiwode has a split appointment and responsibilities in each part of the land grant mission with 50% extension, 30% research and 20% teaching. Woiwode will step into the brand-new role on Aug. 17 and will work to build an animal well-being program that will be relevant to beef producers in Nebraska and beyond.

In her extension appointment, Woiwode will work with educators across the state for broader implementation of the beef quality assurance program. She also will develop educational materials around the beef quality assurance program to help support the current educators already teaching statewide.

Woiwode brings extensive industry experience that will help inform research focused on management strategies, handling practices and technology to ensure animal well-being across the livestock industry. Woiwode has provided support and leadership in the implementation of a nationally adopted animal care program, and led the response to a national crisis driven by activist scrutiny. Woiwode’s experience working with meat plants can support the development of humane animal handling programs across the state, including the Loeffel Meat Laboratory.

As a North Dakota native, Woiwode received earned a degree in business administration and used that training while employed for nearly ten years before returning to school.  She finished her education at Colorado State University, where her graduate advisor was internationally recognized animal welfare expert Temple Grandin. 

“I left my interview feeling twice as excited as I was going into it,” Woiwode said. “I really felt that I was among peers; it was a place that could be home for a long time.”

Yijie Xiong

Yijie Xiong has been appointed as assistant in professor precision livestock management, based in the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Xiong will also contribute 25% to the Biological Systems Engineering Department as part of her engineering background. Xiong’s appointment will include responsibilities in both research and extension, set to begin on Aug. 17.

“Yijie brings new capacity in precision livestock management. This is not a brand-new area for us, but she will be first to develop technologies to advance management of beef cattle that can translate to all livestock species,” Krehbiel said.

Xiong will develop research and extension programs to integrate technologies into management systems for intensive and extensive livestock production – especially beef production. Xiong says it has been a luxury to have been able to work with many species of animals including swine, poultry, beef and dairy throughout her life and education.

Xiong will use her engineering and provide additional strengths to a multi-disciplinary approach. She hopes to provide inputs in solving the challenge of animal welfare and health, balancing profitable beef production with environmental stewardship.

Xiong received her bachelor’s degree from China Agricultural University. She received her masters and doctorate in agricultural and biological engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

“This opportunity is very exciting for me, it is truly my career goal and matches my background, as well,” Xiong said.

Pablo Loza

 Pablo Loza has been appointed as feedlot nutrition and management specialist, based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center at Scottsbluff. will be responsible for developing, finding and conducting research trials and overseeing the Panhandle Research Feedlot. He will also work in collaboration with other research and extension professionals in the Panhandle and statewide to provide leadership in beef growing and finishing expertise.

“I am very happy to be back at UNL and Nebraska and looking forward to being part of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center team,” Loza said.

Loza’s appointment includes responsibilities in both research and extension. He will lead project to identify and develop enhanced nutrition and management strategies for growing and finishing beef cattle, with the goal of improving efficiency, profitability, animal well-being and management systems for feedlot cattle. In extension, he will focus on enhanced management strategies for beef cattle to help improve profitability, animal well-being and environmental quality. He will also provide educational and professional support for feedlot consultants and extension educators.

Since 2017, Loza has been director of the experimental farm at the National University of Cordoba at Cordoba, Argentina. He also has performed research in the Unties states in Nebraska, Colorado and Louisiana. He received a doctorate from Nebraska in 2008 in ruminate nutrition, and master’s in ruminant nutrition from Colorado State University.

"These four new hires will make UNL’s strong commitment to Nebraska’s beef producers and beef industry even stronger," Krehbiel said.

“We are the beef state. Everything comes together here, and our geography supports production all the way from conception through harvest and consumption. We’ve always had a footprint in beef systems,” he said.

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