About Us


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Amy Skibiel joined the faculty in the Animal, Veterinary and Food Sciences Department at the University of Idaho, in 2018. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Juniata College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Auburn University. Amy also completed two Postdoctoral Fellowships, one in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and another in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Florida. 

Amy is located at the University of Idaho main campus in Moscow. She is a lactation and environmental physiologist studying the metabolic adaptations to lactation and impacts of various environmental stresses on dairy cattle health and production. For the past three years, she has been investigating the effects of particulates in wildfire smoke on cattle health and performance. This work has been featured in both regional and national news outlets. Amy also serves on the Lactation Biology Section Committee for the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and serves as the secretary/treasurer for the ADSA Production Division Council. 

Dr. Skibiel has long been intrigued by how animals interact with their environment and cope with environmental change. She is particularly interested in how animals respond to ever-increasing air temperatures and more frequent and intense wildfires. Her motivation to study wildfire in relation to animal agriculture began with the start of her position at the University of Idaho where she learned first-hand about the severity of wildfires in the western United States. Although there is a good deal of data regarding the negative impacts of poor air quality on human health, at the time of Amy’s appointment at UI there was no work being done to understand how production animals might be affected by wildfire smoke. By understanding what harms may occur when animals are exposed to air pollutants from wildfire smoke, Amy plans to develop mitigation strategies and interventions to help producers protect their animals. 

Amy is the lead PI for the project: Programing of Dairy Calf Development From Intrauterine Exposure to Wildfire Smoke and Strategies for Farm Response to a Smoldering Predicament. This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2022-68016-38665 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Faculty website: https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/animal-veterinary-and-food-sciences/our-people/amy-skibiel

Pedram Rezamand is a professor of dairy nutrition with the Animal, Veterinary, and Food Sciences Department at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at University of Idaho (UI).  

He started his faculty position at UI in November 2008; Pedram’s research focuses on nutrient metabolism and inflammation/oxidative stress in lactating animals as well as calf nutrition and health. In recent years he has been collaborating with Dr. Amy Skibiel (UI) on studying the effects of wildfire smoke on animal health and productivity.  He teaches two undergraduate courses (animal feeds & feeding; ruminant nutrition) and two graduate courses (macronutrient metabolism and biostatistics; alternative years). Prior to joining the faculty at UI, Pedram had post-doctoral trainings at Michigan State University (College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Lorraine Sordillo) and University of Idaho (Dept. Animal and Veterinary Science, Dr. Mark Maguire), after completing his PhD in animal science under Dr. Sheila Andrew’s supervision focusing on dairy nutrition at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Rezamand has been an ADSA member since early 2000’ and served on JDS editorial board for two terms. He has been part of ADSA leadership team starting in 2020 (Production Division Council) serving as secretary, vice-chair and currently the chair (2022-23). He is a member of the Overall Programming Committee (2022-23) and will lead that effort in 2023-2024. Pedram has also been actively involved with planning and organizing the Pacific Northwest Animal Nutrition Conference since 2009 and the chair of the conference since 2013. He lives with his family in Moscow, a beautiful north Idaho town, and enjoys coaching youth sport and nature photography. 

Faculty website: https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/animal-veterinary-and-food-sciences/our-people/pedram-rezamand

Denise Konetchy is as Assistant Professor, Small Ruminant Medicine at the University of Idaho.  Dr. Konetchy received her Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, Bachelor of Science of Veterinary Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.  She received her Master of Public Health at University of Iowa and is a diplomate of the American College of veterinary preventative medicine.

Dr. Konetchy is currently faculty at the University of Idaho, Moscow campus, Moscow Idaho. Areas of interest include herd/flock health management strategies to prevent pathogen transmission and to address antimicrobial resistance issues.  Education of clients and students in the areas of animal health management,  pathogen transmission, and disease prevention.  She currently instructs three undergraduate courses, AVS 452 Physiology of Reproduction; AVS 471 Animal Disease Management, and AVS 476 Sheep Science.  Dr. Konetchy is a Small ruminant medicine clinical instructor for senior veterinary students from Washington State University.

Dr. Konetchy’s interest in work related to wildfires centers around the fact many animal disease issues are impacted by their environment.  If we can understand how wildfires are impacting the health of animals, we can develop strategies to minimize those impacts.  The next step is to pass that knowledge onto students, veterinarians, producers, and other animal caretakers enhancing their ability to provide care and, in some instances, preventative care for animals exposed to wildfires.

Faculty website: https://www.uidaho.edu/cals/animal-veterinary-and-food-sciences/our-people/denise-konetchy

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Juliana Ranches is an Assistant Professor & Extension Beef Specialist at Oregon State University. Juliana is a natural from Brazil, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. She later obtained her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Florida.

She is based in Burns at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC). Her appointment is split between Research and Extension. The main goal of her program is to improve production efficiency and sustainability. The primary research interests and the pillars of her research program are (1) nutrition, (2) health and welfare, (3) production management, and (4) precision technology. Her Extension program focuses on disseminating research findings to cattle producers throughout the state using different formats such as Extension publications, field days, and workshops, as well as social media.

Juliana’s interest in wildfires and their effects on livestock health and production started when she first moved to Oregon and had her first experience with a wildfire season. Her concerns and questions about livestock health and productivity during smoke exposure were stimulated by human health organizations’ recommendations during episodes of poor air quality conditions. Most of the recommendations focus on staying indoors, reducing exposure to smoke, and reducing exercise. Humans and most pets can meet these recommendations, but those are not easily achieved with livestock. Therefore, Dr. Ranches is interested in expanding the knowledge of wildfire smoke exposure and its effects on livestock health and production to develop management tools to help producers and animals during extreme environmental episodes such as wildfires.

Juliana is the lead PI for the project: Wildfires and Smoke Exposure: Impacts on Livestock Health and Performance and Producers’ Perceptions and Sentiments. This project was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2023-68008-39173 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Faculty website: https://anrs.oregonstate.edu/users/juliana-ranches

Social media: https://www.instagram.com/thecattlecorner/?hl=en

Jenifer Cruickshank is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Dairy Management at Oregon State University. She holds BS and MS degrees from the University of California, Davis and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jenifer grew up on a small Oregon dairy farm and retains a longstanding interest in genetics and genomics.

Jenifer is based in the Willamette Valley in western Oregon. Her program centers on reducing stress on dairy farms, for both cattle and people. In her applied research work, she focuses on understanding the effects of environmental stressors such as heat, wildfire smoke, and vertebrate pests. In her outreach work, she emphasizes calf care, human health and safety, regulatory compliance, and dispelling misconceptions held by the general public. In all her activities, Jenifer supports data-driven decision making in the efficient production of high-quality milk for the sustenance of our communities while advancing animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

When western Oregon experienced unprecedented days of intense wildfire smoke in 2020, Jenifer heard from dairy producers: “What is this doing to the cows?” Most of the research on health and inhaled smoke had involved giving mice lit cigarettes . . . not very informative for livestock breathing in a very different environment. Jenifer’s interest in wildfire has come from the desire to answer that question: What is wildfire smoke doing to the cows? And to the calves? Gaining an understanding of the physiological effects of wildfire smoke on health and performance will hopefully lead us to identifying efficient means of mitigating those effects. With the increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires in Oregon and the West in general, investigating their ramifications is all the more essential.

Faculty website: https://agsci.oregonstate.edu/users/jenifer-cruickshank

Katie Wollstein is an Assistant Professor of Practice and Extension Rangeland Fire Specialist at Oregon State University. She holds a B.S. from Washington State University, M.S. from Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho. She grew up in the U.S. West and is passionate about working landscapes. In her free time likes to cook and run with her German shorthair pointer, Stella.

Dr. Wollstein serves southeastern Oregon and is based at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC). As a member of the OSU Extension Fire Program, Katie’s Extension programming focuses on better using rangeland management tools to influence the occurrence and outcomes of fire in the sagebrush ecosystem. Key themes of her research include: (1) adaptive co-management of rangeland resources, (2) social and policy conditions for mitigating fire risk across mixed-ownership landscapes, and (3) collective arrangements for managing public goods such as wildlife and fire resilience. Her outreach aims to assist ranchers, agencies, and other rangeland stakeholders in leveraging their different tools, capacities, and types of knowledge to enhance social and ecological resilience to fire.

Katie tells people who ask that she didn’t intend to “end up in fire,” but she found that the issues surrounding it are a compelling convergence of ecological, social, political, and economic legacies behind rangeland landscapes. Frequent, large-scale wildfires threaten the resilience of both the ecosystem and the human communities whose culture and livelihoods are intertwined with healthy and productive rangelands. For this reason, Katie is particularly motivated to provide expertise and learn from southeastern Oregon ranchers, a population uniquely invested in living with fire more positively.

Faculty website: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/people/katherine-wollstein

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