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Animal Sciences and Industry

Current Students

Kelli Retallick ||  Kari Otteman White || Layna Bond ||  Madison Butler || Devin Jacobs || Claudia Silvera || Katherine Upshaw || Will Shaffer || Drew Lakamp ||

Ph.D. Students


Kelli Retallick
Kelli Retallick
Ph.D. Student and Director, Genetic Service, American Angus Association

M.S., Kansas State University, 2015, “Genetic variance and covariance components for feed intake, average daily gain, and postweaning gain and indices to improve feed efficiency in growing beef cattle”

Ph.D. Project Description:

Kari Otterman White

Kari Otteman White
Ph.D., Student and Chairperson, Ultrasound Guidelines Council

M.S., Kansas State University, 2013, “Relationship between docility and reproduction in heifers” 

Ph.D. Project Description: 




M.S. Students



Madison Butler
Hometown: Vincennes, Indiana
B.S., Oklahoma State University, 2018
M.S. Project Description: “Estimation of genetic parameters for male fertility traits”

We will analyze phenotypic data collected on male fertility traits in an effort to produce variance component and heritability estimates using traditional and genomic approaches. This project will not only provide selection tools for fertility but provide more insight on the impacts genetics may have on semen production and semen quality measures.

Madison is a sixth generation Angus breeder who grew up on a small diversified livestock operation. Her livestock experience along with her involvement in 4-H, the National Junior Angus Association, and the National Junior Swine Association led her to pursue an animal science degree. She attended Hutchinson Community College, where she was a member of the livestock judging team. She transferred to Oklahoma State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in animal science with a concentration in biotechnology. In her spare time, Madison enjoys spending time working with show cattle and developing youth involved in the livestock industry.

JacobsDevin Jacobs

B.S., South Dakota State University, 2017

M.S. Project Description:  Genomic prediction for climate adaptability traits in sheep



Claudia Silvera

Hometown: Asuncion, Paraguay

D.V.M., Universidad Nacional de Asuncion, 2014 

M.S. Project Description: Genome-Wide Association Analysis of Carcass Traits in Hereford Cattle Using Ultra-High Density SNP Data

As part of a national feed efficiency project, re-evaluate the data analysis components (heritabilities, direct genomic values, association analysis) and concluding results, where genomic data is identified and utilized for enhanced selection of Hereford carcass traits.


Katherine Upshaw

Hometown: Key West, Florida

B.S. in Animal Science, University of Florida, 2018

M.S. Project Description: Genetic abnormalities in Hereford cattle: the detection of vertical fiber hide defect and identification of sequence variants associated with the expression of ocular squamous cell carcinoma

Katherine pursued every opportunity to experience animal agriculture growing up and has never looked back. She enriched her passion for agriculture at the University of Florida through involvement in the Equestrian Team, Block & Bridle Club, and an animal production internship in France. Katherine enrolled in many genetics courses as well, encompassing diverse topics like livestock genetic improvement and human molecular genetics. She eventually joined a research lab at UF that studied the molecular and genetic response of Caenorhabditis elegans to environmental stress. Now at Kansas State University, Katherine is finishing her M.S. thesis on genetic abnormalities in Hereford cattle and pursuing a Genetics, Genomics, and Biotechnology Graduate Certificate. While at KSU, Katherine has been fortunate enough to win the BIF 2020 Baker/Cundiff Scholarship, mentor undergraduates, and co-author a textbook chapter on bovine genomic selection. She plans to apply for PhD programs later this year and ideally begin her doctoral curriculum in fall 2022. 

 Will Shaffer

KSU Genetics Doctoral Fellow, beginning Fall 2021

Hometown: Carthage, Missouri

B.S., Oklahoma State University, 2017
Graduate Certificate in Applied Statistics, 2021
M.S., Kansas State University, 2021 (expected)


M.S. Project Description: Modeling phenotypic plasticity as an indicator of adaptability in beef cattle

Predictions of genetic merit may be dependent on an environmental context, implying a genetic-by-environment interaction (G×E). Predictions of genetic merit, estimates of genetic variance, estimates of heritability, and any related functions can be modeled along a continuous environmental variable and thus predictions can be adapted to any producer’s environment. Studies modelling phenotypic plasticity are relatively sparse in beef cattle literature, so the relative importance of G×E in beef cattle and which environmental descriptors are important are relatively unknown.



Drew Lakamp

Hometown: New Berlin, IL

B.S., Southern Illinois University Carbondale

M. S. Project Description: Sustainability of Beef Cattle