Investigation of the genetic basis of novel phenotypes linked to welfare, sustainability and efficiency in dairy cattle

The Teachers

Giovanni Bittante

– is full professor of animal science and genetic improvement at the DAFNAE – Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment of the University of Padova (Italy);
– is member of the central technical commissions of some cattle herd books;

– was member of the Council of the European Association of Animal Science, coordinator of the Italian National Focal Point FAO for Animal Genetic Resources, member of the National Council for Agriculture and Food; Dean of the Faculties of Veterinary Medicine and of Agriculture of Padova; Director of the Department of Animal Science of Padova;

– is researching on the genetic improvement of dairy and beef cattle, on the valorization of animal genetic resources, on quality and technological properties of milk and dairy products, on muscular hypertrophy and meat quality and on near and mid-infrared technology;
– is author of about 350 scientific papers (Google scholar), about 100 of them on ISI Web of Knowledge journals with more than 140 of total impact factor, 900 citations and an H index of 18.

Nadia Bolzani

She graduated in 1999, from the University Veterinary School in Milan. She has a Master’s in Animal Nutrition, 3 years (2003), at Milan University Veterinary School. She has been working at TDM (Total Dairy Management) since 2001 as software trainer.  TDM imports  management systems for dairy herds from Israel and distributed high technology products in Italy since 1997. Nadia has learned a lot about the daily application of advanced technological tools in dairy farms such as electronic milk meters, tags (for heat detection) and on line milk analysis systems. She continues to collaborate with large scale farms in Italy, working with veterinarians and nutritionists to help dairy farms improve and profit. After working with more than 500 farms in Italy, she is familiar with different kinds of dairy farms, of different sizes, the final destination of the milk,  the number of people involved and facing the various needs of Italian farmers. For she has organized and taken part, as speaker, in 3 conventions related to dairy management technologies and farm management tools for TDM.

Simona Castaldi

Simona Castaldi is an ecology scientist at the Second University of Naples (DISTABIF), specialized in global biogeochemical cycles of C and N. Bachelor in Biology. PhD degree in Soil Science at the University of Edinburgh. Since 1998 she has participated as project and/or research unit coordinator in national (PRIN, CNR, FISR, INGV) and international projects: SAVAFLUX INCO_DC (EU FP4); CARBOIUS (bilateral project Italy-USA); CARBOAFRICA (EU- FP6 STREP); NITROEUROPE (EU FP6); Accent-Biaflux (EU research exchange); GHG-Europe (EU FP7); GHG-Africa (EU FP7 ERC grant group, GEOCARBON (EU FP7). She is consultant for ISMEA and MIPAF on GHG emissions associated with agriculture and food chains by means of LCA methodology and has been appointed expert by the Italian Ministry of the Environment within the Global BioEnergy Partnership, Sustainable Development section on GHG emissions. She is scientific advisor for the WWF, member of the Italian Society of Ecology (steering committee member 2008-2012). Associated Scientist at the Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change (CMCC). She teaches Ecotoxicology, Environmental Risk Assessment, Applied Ecology.

Alessio Cecchinato

Alessio Cecchinato was born in 1980. In 2005 he got the Master of Science in Agricultural Science (110/110 magna cum laude) from the University of Padova. On 1 December 2008 he joined the Department of Animal Science as assistant professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics. In March 2009 he obtained his PhD in Animal Science, major in Genetics, Biostatistics, Biodiversity and Biotechnologies (University of Padova). The teaching activity covers several topics of Animal Production, Animal Breeding and Genetics, and Applied Statistics (College of Agricultural Science, University of Padova). He has more than 70 publications (53 of them published on ISI journals). Current research interests are on genetic aspects of technological traits of bovine milk; on the effects of single genes and polygene on protein composition, milk coagulation properties and cheese yield; the use of mid-infrared (MIR) and near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to predict milk tecnological properties and beef quality.

Ilan Halachmi

Dr. Ilan Halachmi is a senior researcher at the Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Volcani Center, Israel. He received a B.Sc. degree in agricultural and mechanical engineering from the Technion – Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, a M.Sc. degree in Industrial Engineering and Management from Ben-Gurion University, Israel, and a Ph.D. degree from Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He was the business development manager and acting vice president of R&D for a large commercial company until 2002 when he moved back into academic research. Research areas are design methodology for a robotic milking barn (modeling, simulation, validation, and optimization); mega-dairy farming systems design and management; precision livestock farming, and sensors-based management, model-based decision-making, animal behavior sensors, and image analysis.

Pekka Huhtanen

I received MSc. degree 1981 and PhD degree 1987 at University of Helsinki. Thereafter I worked 1987-1994 as junior and senior research fellow of Academy of Finland. During this period I worked as visiting scientist / post doc at US Dairy Forage Research Center (Madison, WI) 1992-1993. In 1994-2007 as worked at MTT-Agrifood Research Finland as Professor and Research Professor. 2007 I got a position as Associate Professor at Cornell University, where I spent 2 years. Thereafter (from 2009) I have been in my current position. My research has covered different topics of ruminant nutrition (digestion physiology, digesta passage kinetics, prediction of feed intake and production responses, environmental emissions), using both experimental and modelling approaches. I have been main supervisor for 9 PhD (currently 3). I have authored or co-authored about 170 papers in peer refereed journals, 11 book chapters, 33 conference proceedings (20 invited), 72 short (2-4 p) conference proceeding and about 70 congress abstracts.

Bruno Stefanon

Graduated in Agricultural Science in 1982 (110/110 and honor) at the University of Padua. Research assistant from 1984 and full professor of Animal Production from September 2000 at the University of Udine. Activities in Academy, Scientific society, private and public bodies: Member of the Italian Association of Animal Production (ASPA, from 1985); Vice-head of department of Animal Science (1998-2007); Coordinator of the scientific Commission for the Organic production and quality of products of animal origin, 2000-2001 for the Italian Animal Science and Production Association (ASPA);President of the national Commission on the control of betting and doping in horse races, Ministry of Economics and Finances and Ministry of Agriculture (2003-2007); Member of the Executive Committee of the Italian Association of Animal Production (ASPA, 2004-2010); President of the First level course in Biotechnology, Faculties of Veterinary Medicine (2006-2009); CEO of the spin-off Nutrigene s.r.l., University of Udine (from 2008); Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of University of Udine (2007-2012); Coordinator of the scientific Commission for the Ecological Footprint in Animal Production, 2011-2013 for the Italian Animal Science and Production Association (ASPA);Council member of the European Association of Animal Production (2010-2014). He was involved in research activity for the identification of markers of oxidative stress in farm animals and to evaluate biological response to environmental stressors in dairy cows, in order to define the related effects on milk quality, immune response and general animal welfare. The studies also involved foreign Research Institutes, to investigate the role of feeding regimes and metabolic and oxidative stresses on the regulation of gene expressions and cell apoptosis. The possibility to control negative effects of stress through farm and ration management or with the use of nutraceuticals was also investigated. Specific research activities are also in the field of pig production and genetic, association studies between genotype and phenotype in cattle and pigs. He has published 102 peer review articles and 150 abstracts and technical papers.

John Wallace

Prof John Wallace obtained a 1st class Honours B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Glasgow in 1972.  Vacation placements included spells at the Forth River Purification Board and Distillers Company Ltd.  Shortly after completing his Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow in 1975 ‘Maintenance energy and molar growth yields of Escherichia coli’, he joined the Microbiology Department of the Rowett Research institute, at that time headed by P.N. Hobson, with Sir Kenneth Blaxter as Institute Director.  He has remained at the Rowett since 1976, developing interests in rumen and intestinal microbiology and ruminant nutrition.  Following the merger of the Rowett with the University of Aberdeen in 2008, he was appointed to a Personal Chair at the University.  He presently leads the rumen microbiology research team.  At various times during his career, he has undertaken research sojourns in Australia, Japan and Ethiopia, and has served on the Editorial Boards of Microbiology, British Journal of Nutrition (Deputy Editor-in-Chief), FEMS Microbiology Letters, Animal Feed Science and Technology and Applied and Environmental Microbiology.  I have served on the research committees of BBSRC and presently sit on the FEEDAP (feed additives) panel of the European Food Safety Authority.  Career highlights include being invited to speak at the Pasteur Institute, Papeete, Tahiti, in ‘The Year of Louis Pasteur’ Symposium’, Microbes, Environment , Biotechnology, 8-12 May 1995, and being recognised via the DSM Nutrition Innovation Award in 2007 ‘in recognition of his pioneering research in animal nutrition.’

John Williams

Dr Williams obtained his BSc degree from the University of London with honours in both Physics and Biology and his PhD in Biochemistry from the National Institute for Medical Research, London.  He then moved to Edinburgh in Scotland to start his work on genetics, first with the University of Edinburgh on Drosophila before moving into the field of agricultural at the Roslin Institute, where he was Head of the Bovine Genomics Section, and Coordinator of the Institute Complex Traits Programme.  While in Edinburgh he was also the Director of Cattle Blood Typing Service and was involved in the creation of a “spin-off” molecular testing company.   He moved to the Parco Tecnologico Padano in 2005 where he is now the Science Director.  Dr Williams’ research has focused on the genetic improvement of animals and he has published more than 160 scientific papers in international reviewed journals and authored 22 book chapters.  He has been the coordinator of numerous multi-centre national projects in the UK and Italy and of 8 European Union funded projects on topics including dairy production, meat quality, cattle health, BSE and basic genetics/genomics research.  As Science Director at the Parco Tecnologico Padano Dr Williams is responsible for overseeing the institute’s research programme on Animals and Plants which uses the latest genomic advances to address improved food supply, animal productivity, food quality, health and environmental sustainability.