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Animal and Veterinary Sciences

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News - Spring 2006 Newsletter

Mainely Progress, June 2006
Volume 3, Number 1

Edited by Dr. Martin Stokes

Another New Recruit
Beginning last fall, a search committee interviewed three candidates for the position of Livestock Teaching Coordinator and Assistant Herdsperson. This post involves numerous responsibilities in using Witter as a hands-on classroom and coordinating student animal activities both on and off-campus. The applicants were required to have a master’s degree, experience with teaching and research work related to the livestock program, and interpersonal skills necessary to work closely with students and faculty. We are very pleased that one of our own graduates, Crystal Sellars, was the successful applicant for this position.

Crystal was born in Presque Isle, Maine, and raised in Washburn, where the family moved when she was only six years old. Crystal was clearly an animal lover from an early age and although her parents were not in agriculture she still managed to collect a myriad of different pets including chickens, cats, dogs, and hamsters. She also participated heavily in the FFA during her years in Washburn. Crystal entered UMaine as a member of the Class of 1999, originally majoring in Zoology, before switching to Animal Science after her first semester. The UMADCOWS program was primarily responsible for her focus on food animals and she was the Student Herd Advisor in her final semester. Before graduating with a BS in AVS, Crystal was accepted into the graduate program at the University of Idaho to pursue a master’s degree in Animal Science.

Her early animal related experience involved working at the Presque Isle Raceway, where she collected urine from the racehorses for drug testing, and she also volunteered with a veterinarian in Woodland. While at UMaine, she gathered alternative experience at the Aroostook Research Farm in Presque Isle, where she collected and processed plant and soil samples for research studies. After graduating from UMaine, Crystal spent that summer working for Thomas Farms of Garland, where she milked and performed odd jobs for the farm’s 240 milking cows. Crystal was then a graduate research assistant for Dr. Amin Ahmadzadeh, who she credits for the majority of her hands-on and real-world experience. Crystal’s graduate research was on the addition of Estradiol Cypionate (ECP) to the Ovsynch Protocol and its effects on the conception rates of dairy cattle. Following graduate school, her decision on a career in dairy led her to the Midwest Dairy Institute in Milbank, South Dakota, where she became their first ever Dairy Management Intern. fter about a year she was promoted to Assistant Herdsperson and was the herd’s Reproduction Specialist responsible for nearly every aspect of the institute’s breeding program. Crystal then worked at Cedar Red Dairy in Denmark, Wisconsin, before returning to work in Maine.

In this newly created position Crystal splits her duties between the AVS department and Witter Farm. For the department, she is charged with AVS lab instruction in various courses such as Animal Science, Animal Science Techniques, and UMADCOWS. At the same time she oversees equipment and animal use for any student clubs or groups. At Witter, Crystal is responsible for assisting with all normal farm chores and duties, as well as the cow and heifer breeding programs, and some management of student employees.

In the future, Crystal hopes to continue at the University for many years, where she wants to improve her rapport with the equine program and further the development of the beef program. A woman full of potential, she explains that, “UMADCOWS brought me to where I am today and now I’m back and can help give back to UMaine what was given to me”. We all look forward to her contributions to both the Witter Farm and to the Animal and Veterinary Science department. Welcome Crystal!

Developments in the Diagnostic Lab
In our last issue we welcomed Dr. Scott Haskell to our faculty to take over management of our Diagnostic Laboratory. Having been a practicing veterinarian in large practices in the southwest, Scott was able to improve our management procedures and laboratory protocols to make a more efficient operation. He also started a Maine Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory (MAAHL) to deal with the very important problems of our marine industries. To lead this laboratory he was able to persuade Cooperative Extension to hire Debbie Bouchard, who was working as a Marine Resource Scientist for the Department of Marine Resources and Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife. From 1996 to June 2005, Debbie was the owner and manager of Micro Technologies Inc., a private aquatic animal health laboratory. Debbie graduated from UMaine in 1983 with a degree in Microbiology and has great experience in this field. She also has had great success in writing grants to support her work, a talent which we hope will flourish in her new position because her salary will be funded for two years but by then she must be self-sufficient by writing grants. In the short time that Debbie has been with us she has written grants worth in excess of $1 million and was recently awarded over $395,000 to equip the new MAAHL. Congratulations Debbie. Two other grants totaling over $300,000 are still pending. Unfortunately, Dr. Scott Haskell resigned recently from his CE/AVS appointment to return to California. We wish him well in his future professional activities.

AVS Bios
Brenda Kennedy-Wade
One of the hardest working members of the Animal and Veterinary Science department, Brenda is a Licensed Veterinary and Scientific Technician for the AVS Cooperative Extension Diagnostic Laboratory. She is responsible for running the Bacteriology, Mastitis, and Pathology Labs in Hitchner Hall, as well as caring for the laboratory animals in the Small Animal Facility and in the isolation houses. Brenda is also working toward her graduate degree in Animal Science, which involves studying alternative treatment therapies for Mastitis in Organic Dairy cows. She currently resides, with her husband Mark, on a small farm in Alton where she owns a variety of different animals, whom she affectionately refers to as her collection of furry hooves, paws, and feathered “lawn ornaments”.


Since May 2005, 12 of our undergraduates have been admitted to Veterinary College, one of which is in Scotland and another is in Australia. One student was admitted to Law School in Arkansas, one to Graduate School at UVM, and four will perform graduate studies in three different departments at UMaine. Congratulations to you all. Here is a little more information about some of this year’s graduates.

Refurbishing the Small Animal Facility

Almost $150,000 has been spent to refurbish our 30-year old Small Animal Facility to help obtain accreditation of the university by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC International). This work has improved the research environment, air quality, biosecurity and safety of the building and will allow researchers all over campus to submit and receive research grants for which AAALAC accreditation is required. As a result of these improvements, Jim Weber in AVS and faculty in Biological Engineering are cooperating with a surgeon from EMMC, Dr. Ian Dickey, in experiments funded by Stryker Corporation to further define the growth of tissue into foam metals for use in replacement joints for humans.

Image Description: Crystal Sellars

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Contact Information

Animal and Veterinary Sciences
5735 Hitchner Hall, University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5735
Phone: (207)581-2770 | Fax: (207) 581-2729E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System