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News - Fall 2004 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, Fall 2004
Volume 1, Number 2

Our very best wishes for a happy holiday season to all our friends, alumni, emeriti and supporters wherever you may be. We also hope you have a successful and rewarding 2005. This edition of Mainely Progress will concentrate on the people of AVS, past and present, but first some information about a very important program in Cooperative Extension.

The Maine Cattle Health Assurance Program (MeCHAP)

Healthy livestock mean sustainable and profitable farms, and more consistent and safer livestock products. What started four years ago as a small research project has blossomed into a statewide livestock health program whose goal is to improve the health of all livestock in the state.

A number of emerging health issues threaten the marketing of milk and meat products from livestock. Livestock diseases like E. coli, Cryptosporidia, Salmonella, Johne’s Disease, Foot and Mouth Disease, Chronic Wasting Disease and Madcow Disease, are rapidly becoming concerns to the public. Other diseases such as mastitis, pneumonia, lameness, and metabolic disorders, though not public health concerns, are costly to livestock producers because they increase production costs, reduce product quality and lower farm profits.

The Maine Cattle Health Assurance Program (MeCHAP) was formed in 2000 is run by a coalition of dairy, beef, sheep, and deer producers, veterinarians, food processors, university personnel and state regulators. AVS extension faculty involved in this program include: Gary Anderson, Dave Marcinkowski, Mike Opitz and Ken Andries.

MeCHAP helps farmers make progress through a 3-step process that involves an on-farm risk assessment, development of a management plan to control the particular diseases on the farm and a subsidized disease testing strategy to monitor progress.

MeCHAP has made a number of significant accomplishments in it brief existence. These include:

  • The training of 40 food animal veterinarians to conduct the on-farm risk assessments.
  • Completion of the risk assessment and farm plans by over 70 Maine dairy farms.
  • Development of a beef program similar to the dairy program to be rolled out later this fall.
  • The statewide testing of over 3700 cattle for Johne’s Disease.
  • Conducting a number of educational meetings for livestock producers and veterinarians.
  • Development of a variety of educational materials on a variety of livestock diseases
  • The free bulk tank testing of all Maine dairy herds for mastitis organisms.
  • The hiring of a veterinarian to help manage the program.

Since its inception, MeCHAP has been able to obtain more than $150,000 in grants to conduct research, expand diagnostic lab capabilities, and subsidize the farm risk assessments and testing. The program has also enabled the Maine Department of Agriculture to obtain more than $200,000 in federal funds to support the effort. Plans for the future include expansion of the program to all livestock species with educational information, farm assessment programs and additional disease testing. For more information about MeCHAP contact the University of Maine Extension Livestock Office at: 207-581-2787.

Former Chair of AVS, Dr. Robert O. Hawes was recognized by the board of directors of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for his contributions to the conservation of heritage turkeys. Dr. Hawes has raised and exhibited prize poultry all his life, with which he has won many honors. He was one of the first 30 licensed judges of the American Bantam Association and he continues to judge at local and 4-H fairs. Bob has written scientific publications, book chapters, popular articles, and he still writes articles in the Snood News, the conservancy’s publication about turkeys. Those who would like to know more could visit:

More Changes at UMaine
Marcy Guillette, our Livestock Supervisor, came to us in 1997 to help manage the various animal species at the Witter Center and to help coordinate our hands-on learning. After seven years with us Marcy has moved to Florida to work with horses instead of dairy cattle. We wish Marcy the very best in her new endeavors and hope she doesn’t get blown away by the hurricanes or eaten by the ‘gators.

There will also be changes in our teaching program as part of the University of Maine Strategic plan. The Animal Medical Technology Program, which we used to teach, will return to the Orono campus from UMA (Bangor Campus), possibly by July 2005. We are still working out the details of incorporating 70 to 100 more students into the program and how to integrate their needs into the four-year program and the Witter Teaching and Research Center. We are confident that students in both programs will benefit from this integration as we can provide additional experience with large animals and the Bangor program will give our 4-year students exposure to small animals that they currently lack.


This newsletter now reaches over 500 of our friends, alumni, emeriti and industry contacts all across the US and Canada. Please let us know of anyone we should add to our list. In this first year of publication we have been contacted by numerous alumni with details of their successes since they left UMaine. Here are a few of them:

  • Mrinal Dhar, MS 1991, worked with Dr. Stokes. Mrinal visited us in July 2004. Since 1972 Mrinal has worked at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, NY City, which is one of the largest and most renowned hospitals and medical schools in the country. He is their Radiation Safety Specialist and is responsible for ensuring the safe handling of all the radioactive materials that are used in the institution for research and clinical application. He and his family live in Jackson Heights, NY.
  • Amy Campbell, BS 2001. Amy has returned to school in Illinois to obtain her teaching certificate and take a few graduate level courses after working as a veterinary technician and doing animal research with Pfizer. She now lives at 2923 Edwards Street, Alton, IL 62002. Email at
  • Sarah Guilmain, MS 2004 (worked with Dr. Weber). She moved to the Washington DC area and is working as a research assistant with primates at NIH, where she was Employee of the Month after only working there a couple of months. You could reach her at 10714 Kings Riding Way #2, North Bethesda, MD 20852. Email at
  • Sophia Albert, BS 2003. For her senior project Sophia went to Namibia to work with the Cheetah Conservation Foundation. She is about to return there for 6 months.
  • Stephanie Leighton, BS 2003. Stephanie is living in Bowdoin with her husband Ryan (Mechanical Engineering 2000) and their two small children. They are restoring an old 90-acre family farm and have just added a 12-stall barn. She has two Shire crosses and is hoping to finance the barn by boarding horses. She said, “I have REALLY found a lot of what I learned at Maine to be useful in this whole process!” or 384 West Burrough Road, Bowdoin, ME 04287 if you need to board a horse.
  • Christian Hallman, BS 1999. Chris ran his own pet store in Brewer for a while after graduation before becoming an animal technician at the Jackson Laboratory in 2001. He is now an assistant supervisor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Animal Resources and Comparative Medicine. He supervises the techs that take care of the research animals so he does more paperwork and less animal handling now but he said, ” I still get to utilize some good animal science knowledge.” Chris is certified at two levels by the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science. He was hoping to be married to his long time girlfriend by the end of the year. You could ask him yourself at Animal Resources and Comparative Medicine, Harvard Medical School, 665 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115


  • Dave Mallory, MS 1983, worked with Dr. Linda Kling. Congrats to Dave who was recently promoted to full professor at Marshall University, Huntington, W Va. Dave teaches Animal Physiology and Vertebrate Embryology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has been nominated three times for an outstanding teacher award at Marshall.
  • Jessica Walker, BS 2004. Congrats to Jess, our most recent graduate to gain entry into veterinary school at the Atlantic Veterinary College, PEI, Canada. “She thinks it’s a blast.” jenwalker@UPEI.Ca or c/o Firedance Inn, Box 1051, Cornwall, PEI, Canada, C1A UPO
  • Kiera Finucane, BS 2004. Congrats to Kiera who is now in a Masters Program at UVM researching glucose transporters in the bovine mammary gland.

  • Danielle Pelletier, BS 2001. Danielle worked on the UMass Hadley farm for a year after graduation before becoming a veterinary technician at the Boxford Animal Hospital, a private family veterinary practice. Congrats to Danielle as she is our first grad to be admitted to the Veterinary College on St. Kitts in the Caribbean. She was at

Our congratulations also to Charles Buker and Whitney King on their marriage, August 14, 2004. Charles and Whitney were united in a Civil War themed wedding before taking their honeymoon along the Olympic peninsula in Washington where they saw Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens. They live in Auburn.

Our best wishes to everyone who has contacted us and our thanks to everyone who has made donations to our department. I try to write to you all but I may have overlooked someone. My apologies if I have not written to you and my most sincere thanks for your financial support.


It is with considerable regret that we announce the passing of:

  • Dr. Harold Brugman, 1908-2004, a one armed professor from Rotterdam, Holland who immigrated to Canada at age 16. He lost his dominant right arm in a farm machinery accident and was active in our 2-year and 4-year programs from 1950-1974.
  • Dr. Allan Corey, 1929-2004. Al left veterinary practice to lead our 2-year AMT program from 1983-1994. Al received his degrees from UMaine in Animal Sciences (BS, 1952) and the University of Toronto (DVM, 1956). He was a field veterinarian for Maine DOA (1956-1962) and partnered private clinics in Dover-Foxcroft and at Westbrook Animal Hospital where he continued to work after his retirement from UMaine. Al brought his professional veterinary experience to help our associate degree graduates become licensed veterinary technicians.
  • Dr. Richard (“Dick”) Gerry, 1914-2004. A graduate of Lewiston High School, Dick graduated with distinction from UMaine, Class of 1938, having majored in Poultry Husbandry and later received his PhD from Purdue University, Indiana in Animal Nutrition. Dick returned to UMaine in 1948 as an associate poultry husbandsman, was promoted to full professor of Poultry Science in 1956 and retired in 1984. Dick was active in the 4 year and 2 year programs and continued to edit our first newsletter even after his retirement.
  • Henry J. Cook, Jr., 1930-2004. Henry was a native of Rhode Island and received BS and MS degrees in Animal Science from URI in 1952 and 1957. Henry also served two years in the army before becoming an Assistant County Agricultural Agent in 1959. When he retired in 1987 he was an Area Dairy Specialist with UMCE.
  • Madge Bost, 1921-2004. Madge received degrees from Northwestern University and from UMaine where she studied to be a teacher of English Literature. She practiced her profession for some years before becoming the Administrative Assistant in AVS, which she kept very well organized, her philosophy being that of Hamlet that “the readiness is all.”

All of these marvelous people will be greatly missed. Our condolences to their families and our thanks to the Bangor Daily News for some of this information.

Dr. Michael Opitz Retires

On a more joyful note, on July 16, 2004, we held a retirement party for Dr. Michael Opitz who was a veterinarian that filled the tripartite responsibilities of research, teacher, and public educator for 25 years in AVS. Mike contributed millions of hours to the people of Maine through his work in poultry, fish aquaculture, and by directing the UMaine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. We still see him around as he continues to supervise our salmonella testing until his position is refilled. Best wishes for your retirement Mike.


Dong Thi Nguyen-Bresinsky was born in Quang Nam, Viet Nam on July 16, 1958, was raised in Da Nang and graduated from high school in 1976. I attended the University of Agriculture and Forestry in Ho Chi Minh city, where I received a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary and Animal Sciences in 1995. I obtained an Orderly Development Assistance scholarship from the New Zealand government in 1995, traveled to New Zealand and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Animal Science, at Massey University in 1998. I married Professor Henrik Bresinsky on March 11, 1998 in New Zealand, and we have a two-year-old daughter, Bettina Bresinsky. I am working on Master of Science research with Dr. Charles Wallace on the immunopurification of bovine placental lactogen and its physiological function in the pregnant bovine. I am giving my thesis defense late this year.

Na Wang spent her early years in a small town in Xingjiang Province, P.R.China, where I received my elementary to high school education in public school. In 1992 I entered Shihezhi University and obtained my B.S. degree in animal science in 1996. Then I enrolled the graduate school of China Agricultural University to study animal nutrition. During my graduate studies, my research work was focused on sulfur requirement for Inner Mongolia Cashmere goats and improving the quality of cashmere. After obtaining my M.S. in animal nutrition in 2000 I continued my studies in Food and Nutrition Science at UMaine researching the effects of silage additives on silage quality, aerobic stability and milk production. I am currently completing my Ph.D Dissertation.

Ian Crowley was born in New England, but raised in Old Virginia and came to UMaine for a B.S. in general Biology, with an emphasis on Zoology. I enrolled in a Masters program in Animal Science with Dr. Causey looking at mucosal uterine antibody response in mares after nasal inoculation with antigen. I hope this work will aid my application to Veterinary College.

John D. Blaisdell
was born in Bangor, attended Bangor High School and the University of Maine, graduating in 1975 with a B.S. in Animal Science. He went on to receive an M.A. from the University of Washington and a Ph. D. from Iowa State University. In 1996 he returned to Bangor and is presently a part-time instructor in AVS teaching classes that meet the Gen Ed requirement in ethics.

Melissa Potts has worked for Cooperative Extension/Animal and Veterinary Sciences for two years as an Administrative Assistant. I enjoy my job because of the diversity of tasks and the laid back environment. Previous to this, I was self-employed for five years. I have found getting back into the workforce extremely challenging, rewarding, and fun. I currently live in Argyle with my husband, Bob and my two children, Emily and Jacob.

Shannon Byers received a BS in Animal Science from UMaine in 1997 and began working at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME the following year. In 2001, I joined the newly formed Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) Laboratory and began working under the direction of Rob Taft, Ph.D. We routinely employ in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, and embryo cryopreservation to improve efficiency in mouse production and colony management. I study part-time in the AVS Masters Degree program while I continue to work at JAX. My current research interests include identifying why mice of different strains respond differently to superovulation by exogenous hormones and why fertilization rates during IVF vary by strain. The goal of this project is to identify genes that may account for these differences thereby improving our understanding of reproductive processes in mice and ultimately improving the way we use ARTs as a colony management tool.

Patricia Stoddard has been the Administrative Assistant for the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences for two years, becoming full-time this year. In my 17 years working at UMaine I have enjoyed meeting many students and have had the opportunity to work with dedicated and loyal faculty and staff. My job responsibilities include purchasing necessities to operate the department, making sure that we stay within the guidelines for spending and making payments to various companies that we do business with every day. I am married and have three grown children and 4 “yearning to be grown up” grandchildren. My education has been mostly of life itself and I have learned a great deal from my years here on campus from the variety of students that have passed my way. I cherish each and every time that a student has stopped by to say “thank you” for helping them over a rough spot or just listening to them.

This newsletter costs about $500 to print and mail to you. If you would like to sponsor an issue then the your name, or the name of your company, could be HERE for everyone to see.

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