Animal science research, a zoo of activity for undergraduates

This summer students will have the opportunity to participate in Animal Sciences research with the help of HUR’s Summer Program in Undergraduate Research (SPUR).  SPUR funding will support a program titled, “Integrative Physiology: a Tool to Enhance Undergraduate Research Experience in Animal Science,” which will allow students to become immersed in a research project under the direction of three faculty members in the Department of Animal Science: Dr. Marcel Amstalden, Assistant Professor, Dr. Thomas Welsh, Professor, and Dr. Nancy Ing, Associate Professor.

Six to eight Animal Science students will work in teams of two and be assigned to investigate the effects of experimental treatments on physiological functions related to animal growth and development. Each team will evaluate the effects of treatment on organ structure and function at cellular and molecular levels, using traditional and state-of-the art methods available in the laboratories of the coordinators of this SPUR project. 

The students will work with faculty and graduate students performing assays such as; histo-morphological evaluation of endocrine organs, analysis of gene expression of key genes involved in growth and development, and analysis of hormone concentrations in blood samples.  At the end of their experience, students will prepare a report to share their results with the Integrative Physiology SPUR group and engage in coordinated discussions designed to integrate results obtained by all teams.  Students will also participate in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) summer activities sponsored by HUR, including a public research poster session on July 31.

“We expect to stimulate critical thinking in our students, as well as train them in research so they can continue in undergraduate research after our program.  We also want this project to show the students the integration between cellular and whole-animal functions, through the learning of fundamental biological concepts for a better understanding of animal physiology,” said Amstalden.

Contact: Chrystina Rago,


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