Six UW-Madison postdoctoral fellowships funded by state sponsored Dairy Innovation Hub

The University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) recently announced a second cohort of six, two-year postdoctoral fellowships to help increase dairy-related research capacity through the Dairy Innovation Hub initiative. The selected postdoctoral fellows will tackle research projects in the Hub’s four priority areas: stewarding land and water resources; enriching human health and nutrition; ensuring animal health and welfare; and growing farm business and communities.

A postdoctoral fellowship is a temporary position in academia for individuals who have already completed their PhD, but who are not yet in a permanent university, faculty, or industry scientist position. The goal is to gain additional experience and training in a selected research area, while working alongside an experienced faculty member.

The UW-Madison postdoctoral fellows listed below were selected for Hub funding. For fuller profile information and project descriptions, please visit

Ligia Cavani, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
As a member of Kent Weigel’s lab in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Cavani will conduct the Hub-funded project “Selection for resilient dairy cows.” This project seeks to improve the health and welfare of dairy cows and the sustainability of dairy farms by genetic selection for resistance to and rapid recovery from environmental and management disturbances. Cavani received her PhD in animal science from São Paulo University in Brazil. Her past research has included gene mapping, genomic prediction and genomic studies focused on Babesia bovis infections.

Haylee Hanling, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
As a member of Laura Hernandez’s lab in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, Hanling will conduct the Hub-funded project “Comparing the efficacy of EGTA and 5-HTP induction and resolution of hypocalcemia in dairy cows.” This project seeks to treat hypocalcemia, a condition where the calcium level in a cow’s blood is too low, by investigating both preventative methods and hormonal mechanisms. Hanling received her PhD in dairy science from Virginia Tech and has a special focus on lactation physiology research.

Sonali Mohapatra, Department of Biological Systems Engineering
As a member of Xuejun Pan’s lab in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Mohapatra will conduct the Hub-funded project “Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) synthesized from lactose as milk supplement to promote probiotic growth.” This project aims to synthesize GOS, a prebiotic molecule, from lactose for milk supplementation. Mohapatra received her PhD in fermentation technology from Bijupatnaik University in India. Her past research has focused on alternative fuel sources sourced from plant biomass.

Rayhan Shaheb, Department of Agronomy
As a member of Mark Renz’s lab in the Department of Agronomy, Shaheb will conduct the Hub-funded project “Improving pest management to expand adoption of intercropping alfalfa and corn for Wisconsin dairies.” This project aims to increase the adoption of growing alfalfa alongside corn by identifying factors that lead to unreliable alfalfa survival. Shaheb received his PhD in crop and environment sciences and engineering from Harper Adams University in the UK. His research interests include cropping systems, integrated farming systems and food security.

Donald Lee Vineyard, Department of Soil Science
As a member of Phillip Barak’s lab in the Department of Soil Science, Vineyard will conduct the Hub-funded project “Green ammonia recovery from manure digester and lagoon by electrodialysis.” This project will use electrodialysis to remove ammonium, a form of ammonia, from manure lagoons and manure digestors to use in sustainable agriculture systems and energy production. Vineyard received his PhD in environmental chemistry and technology from UW­–Madison and has a special focus on wastewater management.

Juliana (Dias) Young, Department of Bacteriology
As a member of Garret Suen’s lab in the Department of Bacteriology, Young will conduct the Hub-funded project “Buccal swabbing as a molecular tool for rumen microbial profiling and diagnosis in dairy cattle.” This project aims to further investigate buccal swabbing, which is a swab on the inside of an animal’s cheek, as a substitute for rumen sampling. Young received her PhD in animal nutrition and production of ruminants from the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil and has a special focus on dairy biology.

The Dairy Innovation Hub, which launched in 2019, is a $7.8 million per year investment by the State of Wisconsin to establish a world-class talent pool and support enterprising discoveries. The aim is to ensure Wisconsin’s dairy community remains at the global forefront in producing nutritious dairy products in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner. To achieve these goals, the Hub prioritizes recruiting, developing, and retaining top talent.


Contact: Maria Woldt, Dairy Innovation Hub program manager, (608) 265-4009,