Animal Science has four key areas of research, Animal Health and Well-Being, Genetics and Genomics, Nutrition Physiology and Reproductive Physiology. Today we are highlighting a lab in the Nutrition Physiology area. Agustin Rius, Associate Professor, focusing in Nutritional and Environmental Physiology will share his lab with us.
What kind of work does your research group conduct?
The mission of our lab is to conduct basic and applied research to bring out comprehensive understanding on physiology, metabolism, and nutrition. For this, we use distinct approaches encompassing in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo models to perform hypothesis-driven research, addressing fundamental science with the end goal to improve nutrient-use efficiency.
Also, climate change, particularly heat stress is curtailing animal production, making food security at stake. To this end, our lab is also conducting studies pertaining to investigate physiological, metabolic, and molecular changes elicited by heat stress. Our findings suggest that the intestinal barrier function of cattle is severely impaired due to heat stress environment associated with thermal imbalance. A systematic approach is therefore needed to develop interventions and mitigate the detrimental effects of the heat stress effects on bovine productivity and welfare.
What lead you to your research?
Curiosity. I’ve always wanted to understand how animals “work”. My path started early in my childhood as an explorer of the ecosystem where I grew up. From small lizards and fish to sheep and cattle. I studied veterinary medicine, then practiced veterinary medicine in small and large animals for a few years. During my junior year in college, I became involved in research and found my home there. My research experiences stretched from in-vitro cell cultures to forages and cattle. These experiences led me to grad school, I felt in paradise during my time in grad school. Research is what I’m passionate about and pushes me out of bed every day. It makes every effort worthwhile.
Where do you see your field in 10 years?
It’s hard to tell. The scope of nutrition thrives beyond the limited knowledge that we have with us right now. Nutrient-use efficiency is a big one, I think this area will continue to receive focus and funding. The role of nutrients as mediators of health and well-being will continue to receive attention, for example under One Health initiatives. The integration of nutrition with precision agriculture will grow significantly to achieve better nutrition and healthy animals, less impact on the environment, and more sustainable animal production systems.
Who are your lab members?
Post-Doc Research Associate
Dr. Juan M Cantet
Dr. Tan Watcharaanantapong
Zhantao Yu (PhD)
Reshma Nair (PhD)