Dairy geneticist Dechow wins Arthur Nesbitt Faculty Development Award

December 15, 2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Chad Dechow, associate professor of dairy genetics, has been named recipient of the Arthur W. Nesbitt Faculty Program Development Award by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Representing a major gift by alumnus Nesbitt, this endowed award supports faculty research, teaching or extension activities in agribusiness, dairy science or food science. The Nesbitt Award also aims to attract additional funding for the selected faculty members' programs.

Dechow studies genetic variation and manipulation in dairy cattle, with an eye toward improving cow health and well-being while breeding for higher milk yield and milk-production efficiency. He is receiving the Nesbitt Award based on his proposal, "Age-associated telomere length in cattle from different management systems, lameness status and breed."

Dechow intends to use the Nesbitt Award funding to develop procedures that will amplify or replicate the protective buffers, or telomeres, on the ends of cattle chromosomes and establish whether variation in telomere length is associated with age of the cow, genetics and cow health. "I hope this will allow me to establish a quantifiable measure of cow stress and well-being." he said.

"We have demonstrated that genetic selection for stable body weight and body condition can help maintain high levels of cow health in high-yielding and efficient dairy cows," he explained.

"However, our research also suggests that adopting more intensive farm-management systems to facilitate the economic survival of dairy farms has not benefited cow health, leading to a need for new measures to monitor cow health and well-being."

Bruce McPheron, dean of the college, noted the relevance of Dechow's research. "The issue of animal well-being is one of the most important aspects of animal agriculture these days," he said. "The subject requires scientific data upon which we can build best practices, and Chad's work is a novel approach to filling some of the gaps in our knowledge."

Dechow teaches all or part of the following Penn State courses: Principles of Animal Breeding, Dairy Problem Solving, Dairy Cattle Evaluation and Selection, Dairy Farm Management Systems, and Introduction to Dairy Science. He also is advisor of the Dairy Science Club and coaches the state 4-H Dairy Team.

He received his doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee in 2003, a master's degree in animal sciences from Penn State in 2000, a bachelor's degree in animal science from Cornell University in 1997, and an associate's degree in agricultural science from the State University of New York at Morrisville.

Dechow joined the faculty in Penn State's Department of Dairy and Animal Science in 2003 as an assistant professor.

  • Chad Dechow, associate professor of dairy genetics in College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 09, 2015