Six UW–Madison CALS graduate students funded by state-sponsored Dairy Innovation Hub

The University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) recently awarded six, two-year graduate student assistantships to help increase dairy-related research capacity through the Dairy Innovation Hub initiative. The selected graduate students are tackling 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 graduate student assistantship is a salaried employment opportunity for students working toward an advanced degree beyond their bachelor’s. Students work alongside a faculty mentor and in return, receive tuition remission, health benefits, and a monthly stipend. Students gain valuable skills through assistantship roles that apply directly to their career goals and build broad, transferable skills in areas like communication, teamwork, and leadership.

Funded through a $7.8 million per year investment by the state of Wisconsin, the Hub supports the success of Wisconsin’s dairy community by advancing science, developing talent, and leveraging collaboration at UW–Madison, UW–Platteville, and UW–River Falls. Since its launch in 2019, more than 200 projects have been funded across the three campuses.

The following UW–Madison graduate students have been selected for funding:

Brayan Daniel Riascos Arteaga, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project: Gaining value from post-anaerobic digestion dairy manure fibers
Arteaga is currently pursuing a PhD in civil and environmental engineering and is mentored by Krishnapuram (K.G.) Karthikeyan, a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. He joins Karthikeyan’s team investigating the potential of post-anaerobic digestion cellulosic fibers, which are left over from manure, as a new revenue stream for farmers. The team will evaluate whether chemical treatment of post-AD fibers could be used for either increasing biogas production from dairy manure or producing value-added chemicals such as lactic acid.

Jalyssa Beaudry, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
Project: Profitability of automated milking systems and labor implications for Wisconsin dairy farmers
Beaudry is currently pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture and applied economics and is co-mentored by associate professor Chuck Nicholson at UW–Madison and assistant professor Shaheer Burney at UW–River Falls. UW–River Falls is also co-funding the project. Beaudry joins Nicholson’s team studying the feasibility of automatic milking system adoption for Wisconsin dairy farms from a financial and operations management standpoint. The outcomes of this study and policy recommendations will be shared with stakeholders and farmers through extension workshops and bulletins.

Yuxing Chen, Department of Food Science
Project: Exploiting the food-grade organism Aspergillus oryzae as a biocontrol agent against Listeria monocytogenes in dairy products and cattle
Chen is currently pursuing a master’s degree in food science and is mentored by assistant professor Tu-Anh Huynh. She joins Huynh’s team evaluating the efficacy of an extract from Aspergillus oryzae, a food-grade fungus commonly used in fermentation, against Listeria strains that can grow on the surfaces of cheese and/or wooden cheese ripening boards. The findings of this study will guide formulations of natural biocontrol agents that inhibit and kill Listeria in dairy animal feed, dairy products, and dairy processing plants.

Ellie Froelich, Department of Biological Systems Engineering
Project: Improving anaerobic digester performance through micro-aeration
Froelich is pursuing a master’s degree in biological systems engineering and is mentored by assistant professor Neslihan Akdeniz. She joins Akdeniz’s team developing a low-cost method to remove hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a toxic and damaging gas, from biogas produced by manure digestors. The outcomes of this study aim to increase understanding of a process to remove H2S and gain knowledge related to optimizing these systems.

Julia Kettner, Department of Bacteriology
Project: Capacity of flies to acquire and transmit pathogenic bacteria to dairy cows
Kettner is currently completing her master’s degree in bacteriology mentored by assistant professor Kerri Coon. She joins Coon’s team investigating the capacity of flies to transmit mastitis- and enteritis-causing bacteria from the environment to dairy cows. The results of this study will provide new insights into the persistence and transmission of bacterial pathogens that are detrimental to cow health and production.

Elizabeth McGuire, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences
Project: A novel approach to understanding the impact of dry-off on dairy cow welfare in automatic milking systems
McGuire is currently pursuing a master’s degree in animal and dairy sciences and is co-mentored by assistant professor Jennifer Van Os at UW–Madison and assistant professor Kate Creutzinger at UW–River Falls. Assistant professor Ryan Pralle at UW–Platteville is an additional collaborator and UW–Platteville is co-funding the project. McGuire joins Van Os’ team investigating the use of automatic milking systems to characterize self-dry-off and gradual dry-off of late lactation cows. Improvements in dry-off will improve animal welfare and reduce lost profits caused by intramammary infection.

More details about the graduate students and their projects can be found at