AGREETT-funded faculty

Dr. Joe Armstrong

Extension Educator,

Cattle Production Systems

Armstrong specializes in the practical application of evidence-based medicine and management for both beef and dairy operations. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Minnesota Morris in 2011 and graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 2015. After veterinary school, he worked as a private practitioner with beef and dairy farms at Anderson Veterinary Service in Zumbrota, Minn. He currently lives in Roseville.

Mathew Aliota

Assistant Professor

Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Aliota collaborates on interdisciplinary research connecting insect-borne disease to animal health. He brings experience in bovine viral diarrhea, and more generally in infectious disease prediction, prevention and control. He also works on a variety of vector-borne diseases that affect agricultural animal species. Aliota is a Wisconsin native and earned his Ph.D at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Chad Babcock

Assistant Professor

Forest Resources

Babcock is interested in developing statistical methods for incorporating remote sensing information into forest inventory. Remote sensing data, including lidar and hyperspectral information, can tell us a lot about forest structure and composition. Combining these rich information sources with traditional forest field plot measurements using models stands to greatly improve the usefulness of forest inventories for management and decision-making. Remote sensing can allow for mapping of forest characteristics and increase inventory estimation precision for forest stands. He received a bachelor's degree in forest management and master's degrees in geography and applied statistics at Michigan State University, and his Ph.D at the University of Washington.

Erin Cortus

Assistant Professor and Extension Engineer

Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

Cortus’s research interests are the measurement and estimation of farm-level gas emissions and the related impacts on animals, workers and surrounding community. She earned her Agricultural Engineering degree and Ph.D degree programs at the University of Saskatchewan. Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Cortus spent eight years in a similar research and Extension role at South Dakota State University. She coordinated the statewide Environmental Training Program for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, and worked closely with producers, counties and concerned citizens on questions and discussions related to odor and manure management. Her research projects have included measuring the air quality impacts of different manure management practices in beef cattle barns, and the productivity impacts of providing additional cooling for grow-finish pigs.

Diane DeWitte

Extension Educator, Swine

DeWitte provides quality assurance certifications and biosecurity education to swine producers and youth exhibitors, collaborates on swine barn environmental research, and assists with gilt development research at the University’s Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca. She grew up on a crop and livestock farm in northeast Indiana and earned her degrees at Purdue University. Before taking this position, she worked on a large central Indiana hog farm and was an Extension Educator in Indiana and in Blue Earth and Le Sueur counties in Minnesota.

Andres Gomez

Assistant Professor

Animal Science

Gomez is engaged in studying the factors that shape the composition and function of the microbiome associated to animals and humans. To that end, he applies a system-level view of microbes and host, using meta-OMIC techniques (metagenomics, metabolomics, transcriptomics), along with bioinformatic, machine learning and statistical tools. This approach is used to understand how the microbiome interacts with the host, influencing host nutrition, health and evolution. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the National University of Colombia and his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois.

Jared Goplen

Extension Educator, Crops

Goplen focuses primarily in the areas of forage and small grain production and is based at the Morris Regional Extension Office. He grew up and continues to be involved in his family’s crop and livestock farm in southwestern Minnesota. He earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in Agronomy and Agroecology from the University of Minnesota, with a focus in weed science.

Joleen Hadrich

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist

Applied Economics

Hadrich’s research focuses on agricultural finance and production economics with an emphasis on farm-level profitability. Her recent research has examined changes in wealth and income variation on U.S. dairy farms across time and applying human health concepts to dairy cows to determine the economic cost of common animal diseases at a farm-level. She has worked closely with livestock and crop producers to study the interaction between economic concepts and biological processes of the production system studied. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota Morris and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Michigan State University.

Video: Tackling Dairy Farm Profitability

Natalie Hoidal

Extension Educator, Fruit and Vegetable Production

Hoidal works with produce farmers on all aspects of vegetable production, on scales that range from community gardens to large commercial farms. She previously worked as an educator with Extension's Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education program, where she worked with commercial pesticide applicators in a variety of industries as well as fruit and vegetable growers. She has a master's degree in agronomy from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, where she worked with specialty crop breeding and promotion, specializing in amaranth production in dryland farming systems. She completed her undergraduate degrees in biology and environmental studies at the University of Minnesota Morris. She has worked on and with diversified vegetable farms around the world, and she grew up on a cacti and succulent farm in Forest Lake, Minn.

Annalisa Hultberg

Extension Educator, Food Safety

Hultberg’s focus is on-farm food safety education, outreach and research related to Good Agricultural Practices, or GAPs, with fruit and vegetable producers. GAPs are voluntary practices farmers take to reduce the risks associated with unintentional microbial contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables. She grew up in Wisconsin and earned her master’s degree at the University of Minnesota. She has co-coordinated the on-farm GAPs education program since 2011.

Zhenong Jin

Assistant Professor

Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering

As an agroecologist, Jin uses remote sensing, computational modeling and machine learning to address agricultural and environmental sustainability. The outcomes of his application of large datasets and modern tools will benefit crop production for both industrial and smallholder farms. He earned his doctorate in earth science at Purdue University and his bachelor’s in ecology at Peking University. He received postdoctoral training in the Lobell Lab at Stanford University.

Jacob M. Jungers

Assistant Professor

Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Jungers’ research objective is to improve and develop new cropping systems that provide high-value agricultural products, mitigate environmental pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. His research focuses on improving nutrient use efficiency of crops and cropping systems to increase farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability. He relies on the basic principles of ecology, field and laboratory experimentation, statistical analysis and simulation modeling to contribute information to scientists, farmers and policy makers. Currently, his research is focused on the agronomics and environmental impacts of a new perennial grain crop: intermediate wheatgrass (Kernza™). Jungers earned his doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota.

Jennifer Ann Kimball

Assistant Professor

Agronomy and Plant Genetics

Kimball's research focuses on investigating the genetic and physiological bases of quantitative traits in wild rice and the development of new and improved cultivated varieties to improve the sustainability and economic grain of the Minnesota cultivated wild rice industry. Her team also focuses on evaluating how genetic diversity in wild rice is partitioned genetically and distributed geographically in natural stands to help ensure their protection and preservation. She earned her doctorate and master’s in crop science at North Carolina State University and bachelor’s in biology at Ithaca College.

Annie Klodd

Extension Educator, Fruit and Vegetable Production

Klodd provides education and applied research to fruit and vegetable growers on the most effective ways to successfully grow fruits and vegetables in our Minnesota climate, and grow our produce industry. Her focus areas include growing high-quality Minnesota wine grapes and implementing innovative ways to manage pests in vegetables. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and a master’s degree in Plant Biology at Penn State University, where she did research on grape production. She grew up on a commercial vineyard in Indianola, Iowa, where her family owns a winery. She also has worked for Penn State Extension as a weed management specialist.

Video: Growing Minnesota's grape industry

Peter Larsen

Assistant Professor

Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences

Larsen focuses on investigating host-pathogen interactions. He is an accomplished genomicist with research interests in the genetics of stress, emerging pathogens, and the origin of neurodegenerative disease. Larsen’s program will use cutting-edge genomic technologies to advance several lines of food animal research. Initial projects in his lab will focus on the epigenetics of stress in dairy cattle and the utility of portable, hand-held DNA sequencing technology for real-time food animal diagnostics. He has spent the past six years at Duke University where his research resulted in a new model for the origin of Alzheimer’s disease. Prior to his time at Duke, Larsen spent a year with the USDA in Clay Center, Nebraska where he conducted research on antibody variation in beef cattle. Larsen earned his Ph.D from Texas Tech University.

Yuxin Miao

Associate Professor

Soil, Water and Climate

Miao’s research focuses on precision nitrogen management, especially using proximal, UAV- and satellite-based remote sensing technologies to improve crop nitrogen management in different scales of farming systems, and developing integrated precision crop management systems for high crop yield and resource use efficiencies and protection of the environment. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Chinese universities along with a master’s degree from West Texas A&M University and his doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

Chryseis Modderman

Extension Educator, Crops

Modderman collaborates with farmers and researchers to identify and address manure management needs across Minnesota. Through educational programs, she provides practical insight for producers and industry members in both crop and livestock fields. She is from a farm family in west central Minnesota (south of Benson). She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy from Southwest Minnesota State University, and a Master of Science degree in plant pathology from North Dakota State University while working as a research specialist.

Anne Nelson

Extension Educator, Water Resources

Nelson works with farmers and state agency staff to help address water resource issues in Minnesota with a focus on groundwater quality by collaborating on irrigation research and creating outreach materials on best practices for rural water quality.

She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in crop and soil science and her master’s degree at the University of Minnesota in soil fertility.

She previously worked in Extension on a grant related to nitrate leaching and water quality on sandy soils. She grew up on a small hobby farm in Princeton, Minn., where her family grew corn and soybeans.

Dr. Noelle Noyes

Assistant Professor and Extension faculty

Veterinary Population Medicine

Dr. Noyes develops practical and effective models for improving pre-harvest food safety from production through processing by strengthening partnerships between industry, government and the University. She brings experience working on antimicrobial resistance issues in cattle and is expected to develop projects in swine and poultry. Dr. Noyes is a native of New York and earned degrees from Amherst and Colorado State University.

Lindsay Pease

Assistant Professor and Extension Soil Scientist

Soil, Water and Climate

Pease focuses her research on nitrogen and phosphorus management in row crop systems, bringing best management practices to Extension and outreach efforts for Minnesota farmers. She is dedicated to solving the complex agro-ecological challenges faced by farmers, crop advisors, and water systems managers. She earned her Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in food, agricultural, and biological engineering from The Ohio State University.

Amber Roberts

Extension Educator

Agricultural Business Management

Roberts provides agricultural risk management programming focused on current farm issues, financial planning, and management. She also serves as a co-lead for the Women in Agriculture network. Originally from central Montana, She earned her bachelor's in agribusiness management and agriculture education at Montana State University. She worked in leadership development for three years and with the National 4-H Council to develop and deliver content to 4-H youth across the country. She also worked for an agricultural cooperative to build its member leadership program. She earned her master's degree at the University of Minnesota in applied economics, conducting research on dairy financial resiliency in Minnesota.

Anne Sawyer

Extension Educator, Food Safety

Sawyer helps growers minimize microbial contamination in fresh produce, preventing foodborne illness. She earned her Ph.D in Land and Atmospheric Science (Soil Science) from the University of Minnesota, where she studied nutrient management and microbiology in switchgrass. She also has a master’s degree in watershed science from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s in geology from Carleton College. Before starting her doctoral program, she worked with the National Weather Service and as a park ranger with the National Park Service. She is a Master Gardener and has sold produce and managed a small market in Dundas, Minn., where she lives with her family.

Melissa Wilson

Assistant Professor and Extension Soil Scientist

Soil, Water and Climate

Wilson’s research and Extension programs are in manure management and water quality. Her goals are to build awareness and increase adoption of manure handling best management practices, to increase connections and dialogue with stakeholders, to improve the economic activity and sustainability of farms, and to make progress toward cleaner water for Minnesotans. She earned Ph.D. and M.S. degrees at the University of Minnesota in Water Resources Science with research in soil fertility and nutrient management. Before coming back to Minnesota, she worked in the University of Maryland Extension’s Agriculture Nutrient Management Program, where she taught farmers and ag professionals about nutrient management planning.

Laura M. Shannon

Assistant Professor

Horticultural Science

Shannon’s research is dedicated to potato breeding, population and quantitative genetics, domestication, and diversity. The Shannon lab seeks to increase our understanding of potato genomics, diversity, and evolution in order to facilitate the development and application of methods to speed the potato breeding process in the service of breeding new potato cultivars with increased biotic and abiotic stress resistance and enhanced nutrition and quality traits for Minnesota growers. She earned her doctorate in genetics at the University of Wisconsin and her bachelor’s at Grinnell College.

Kim VanderWaal

Assistant Professor and Extension faculty

Veterinary Population Medicine

VanderWaal uses large data sets to better understand antibiotic resistance, food safety and pathogen movements within large agricultural production systems. She has experience working to understand the spread of tuberculosis among cattle, and has helped analyze data from the University of Minnesota’s Swine Health Monitoring Project. She is a native of Minnesota with degrees from the University of Minnesota and University of California-Davis.