Food Animal Medicine and Food Safety

Munashe Chigerwe, BVSc, MPH, PhD, DACVIM

VM: Medicine and Epidemiology

Dr. Chigerwe is a food animal medicine and surgery faculty member. His research interests focus on colostrum administration practices in dairy calves. The colostrum feeding practices include timing of feeding of colostrum, volume to be fed and frequency of colostrum feeding.

Expectations during research projects:
The STAR student will participate in framing of the research hypothesis and recognizing the objectives of the study. The STAR student will help with raising dairy calves (feeding, monitoring health) on UC Davis Campus facilities, collect research samples from the calves and help analyze the samples in the laboratory. The STAR student will participate in writing of the manuscript (first authorship) for peer-reviewed publication.

Possible research: Please send a request for possible research projects via Email.

Previous accomplished STAR projects:

1. Sakai RR (STAR), Coons DM, Chigerwe M. Effect of single oroesophageal feeding of 3 L versus 4 L of colostrum on absorption of colostral IgG in Holstein bull calves. Livestock Sci 2012;148: 296-299.

2. Murphy JM (STAR), Hagey JV, Chigerwe M. Comparison of serum immunoglobulin G half-life in dairy calves fed colostrum, colostrum replacer or administered with intravenous bovine plasma. Vet Immunol Immunopath 2014;158: 233-237.

3. Pipkin KM (STAR), Hagey JV, Rayburn MC, Chigerwe M. A randomized clinical trial evaluating metabolism of colostral and plasma derived immunoglobulin G in Jersey Bull calves. J Vet Intern Med 2015;29:961-966.

4. Yang VC (STAR), Rayburn MC, Chigerwe M. Effect of intravenous plasma transfusion on granulocyte and monocyte oxidative and phagocytic activity in dairy calves with failure of passive immunity. Res Vet Sci. 2017;115:24-28.

Please contact Dr. Chigerwe at

Rodrigo Gallardo, DVM, PhD, dACPV

Poultry medicine, preventive veterinary medicine, virology (see also: Immunology)

My research has been focused in poultry medicine specifically poultry viral diseases and immunology. One of my goals is to use of molecular and conventional virology and preventive veterinary medicine strategies to understand and control poultry diseases. Lately I have been focusing in international poultry work towards village poultry improvement controlling Newcastle disease virus in Central America and Africa.



Bruce Hammock

Department of Entomology & UCD Comprehensive Cancer Center
Director, NIEHS-UCD Superfund Research Program
PI, NIH Biotechnology Training Program

(See also: Anesthesia/Pain Management, Arthritis/Degenerative Disease, Dentistry/Oral Biology, Pharmacology)

Dr. Hammock’s laboratory has a long collaboration with faculty and students in the school of veterinary medicine.  His laboratory develops mass spectral and biosensor analytical methods for environmental contaminants and drugs in companion animals.  The laboratory is working on a new branch of the arachidonic acid cascade and is developing drugs to block arthritic and laminitic inflammation in horses and inflammatory and post surgical pain in dogs and cats associated with injury, diabetes, age and other criteria.


Use of inhibitors of the soluble epoxide hydrolase to potential treat disease in companion animals such as dogs and cats as well as horses and livestock species.

Pharmacokinetic analysis in development of novel pharmaceuticals for veterinary use.

Fundamental mechanism of action of regulatory lipids.

Natural food additives to expand the efficacy of omega 3 fatty acid supplements in food of companion animal and livestock species.

Development of CNS acting drugs to treat disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease and depression.

See for additional information.

Meera Heller DVM, PhD, DACVIM

VM: Medicine & Epidemiology 

(See also: Immunology/Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine, Food Animal Medicine & Food Safety)

I’m an Assistant Professor of Clinical Livestock Medicine and Surgery (C barn).   My research interests lie in the area of immunology and infectious disease, specifically in the areas of innate immune response and juvenile immunity.  My research goals are to improve prevention and treatment of calfhood disease, or disease in neonates of any species.  My clinical expertise is in internal medicine and surgery of ruminants and swine, and I have a special interest in cattle and goats.  Potential research projects include bench-top projects working with bovine bacterial pathogens in the lab, field research on a novel approach to prevention pink eye in cattle,  field research to document a vector borne disease  in goat populations in northern California, and clinically important retrospective studies using the VMACS database.  I am also open to project ideas from students, and am happy to help you craft a research question that fits your interests.

Please contact Dr. Heller via email at

Michele Jay-Russell, DVM, MPVM, PhD, Dipl., ACVPM

Foodborne pathogens, food safety, good agricultural practices, food policy and regulation, public health, zoonoses

Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS)

My research interests are in food safety and veterinary public health with an emphasis on the molecular epidemiology of zoonotic enteric foodborne pathogens. I currently manage the Western Center for Food Safety, an FDA Center of Excellence in partnership with UC Davis. Our mission is to research the interface between production agriculture and food protection to identify real-world solutions to food safety challenges in these systems. Prior to joining the university, I served as the State Public Health Veterinarian and was involved with numerous outbreak investigations at the state and county levels in California. My current research program continues work in the area of public health and food safety. My laboratory conducts on-farm and field trial studies with the aim to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogen transmission to the food supply from domesticated and wild animals, untreated biological soil amendments (raw manure), and other environmental sources. One of my key outreach goals is to work with stakeholders to develop co-management approaches to protect fruits, nuts, and vegetables from microbial contamination while at the same time promoting environmental stewardship on farms. Data generated by applied research and outreach activities in my program have been used to inform policy related to produce food safety and FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations.

 Please visit Dr. Jay-Russell’s website:

Potential STAR Projects Summer 2018:

·         Validation of minimum application intervals for untreated biological soil amendments of animal origin (raw manure and other animal products)

·         Ability of poultry pellet fertilizers and other biological soil amendments to serve as pathogen harbors in fresh produce production

·         Mitigating food safety risks in aquaponics production

·         Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) of Salmonella in farm ponds used for fresh produce production

·         Development of educational and extension materials on microbial food safety and composting

Fabio Lima, DVM, MS, PhD, DACT

VM: Population Health & Reproduction

The overarching goal of my research program is to promote the sustainability of dairy farming and help safeguard the food supply for humankind. My research program has three areas of focus: 1) Regulation of ovarian and uterine function to improve reproductive programs in cattle. 2) Antimicrobial stewardship in livestock. 3) Genome microbiome interplay regulating cows' health and productivity.

For more information, please visit Dr. Lima’s faculty page.

Gaby Maier, DVM, MPVM, PhD

(See also: Epidemiology)

Dr. Gaby Maier (DVM, MPVM, PhD) is an Assistant Specialist in Cooperative Extension for Beef Cattle Herd Health & Production where her research is focused on finding solutions to health challenges in California beef production units with a focus on cow-calf operations. Challenges in beef production include control of infectious diseases such as infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis, better known as pinkeye, anaplasmosis, trichomoniasis or bovine respiratory disease. With the increasing concern about antimicrobial resistance in both humans and animals, fresh approaches to the treatment and management of many infectious diseases in livestock will become more important. Her research using epidemiological study design and field work focuses on the quantification of common practices, and new or untested techniques to diagnose, treat or prevent disease. Trace mineral supplementation is another area where many beef producers struggle and research into effective trace mineral supplementation is a further research interest. Beyond her research, Dr. Maier is extending knowledge in the form of workshops and seminars for beef ranchers, hobby farmers and the public.

Potential 10-week projects for Summer 2019:

Cross-sectional survey of antimicrobial resistance in fecal pathogens in cow-calf operations in California

Survey of anthelmintic usage on cow-calf operations in California

Contact information:

Aslı Mete, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVP  

(See also: Wildlife/Exotic Animal Medicine/Zoonoses, Pathology/Virology)

Dr. Mete is a board certified pathologist with a research focus on avian species. As a diagnostic pathologist, Dr. Mete works on disease surveillance, herd health management and public health in livestock, avian species, and wildlife. The cases from her clinical work frequently lead to further questions and research projects within the University and elsewhere, including her work on diseases of wild and domestic avian species and backyard chickens. In investigations of diseases in wild birds, Dr. Mete evaluates emerging conditions in relation to ecological and environmental systems integration and affects.

Dr. Mete can be reached at

Pramod Pandey, PhD

Department of Population Health and Reproduction

My research focuses on understanding of pathogen transport at watershed-scale. I am interested in developing models capable of predicting pathogen influx from crop land and confined feeding operations to surface and ground water. My research is highly interdisciplinary, which involves the basics of fluid dynamics, hydrology, sediment transport, pathogen growth and decay, waste treatment, and water resources management. I use hydrological model such as Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to understand the fate and transport of contaminants. In addition to bacterial analysis in stream water column and streambed sediment, animal waste contamination testing, greenhouse gas analysis, volatile organic compound analysis, and hormone transport, my lab will train students on exploiting GIS and SWAT models for understanding the water quality and quantity problems at large scale. I am particularly interested in research that will directly lead to controlling bacteria transport from dairy waste to ambient water. 

Please visit Dr. Pandey’s website at:

Richard Pereira, DVM, PhD

SVM: Population Health and Reproduction

(See also: Epidemiology, Microbiology/Parasitology, Genetics/Genomics)

Dr. Pereira research focuses on evidence based medicine on antimicrobial resistance in livestock and judicious use of antimicrobials through interventions that promote livestock health and well-being. Maintaining the effectiveness of antimicrobial drugs to treat infections is of relevance to the health of both animal and human populations. Recent project investigated enteric microbiota of calves using metagenomic sequencing approaches, and herd management impacts on prevalence of resistant enteric bacteria, including evaluation of drug use, feeding practices, and housing management of dairy calves and heifers.

Epidemiology is the foundation of his research which also employs statistics, microbiology, and molecular and genomic approaches. Using these tools, some current research projects include investigating and identifying risk factors for selection and spread of antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella from livestock, and investigating impacts on drug resistance and animal health from feeding pre-weaned calves waste milk (milk containing drug residues) with the aim of identifying interventions to reduce unwanted impacts from this practice.

Previous projects accomplished include:
Spatial-temporal trends in antimicrobial resistant Salmonella isolates recovered from Northern California dairy cattle at a veterinary microbiology laboratory between 2002 and 2017.

Potential 10 week projects for Summer 2018:
Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria causing metritis in dairy cows.

Evaluation of on-farm factors affecting antimicrobial drug on the dairy farms.

Contact information:

Please visit Dr. Pereira's website at:

Alda Pires, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

Food Safety, Foodborne and Zoonotic Diseases, Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases

VM:  Population Health and Reproduction; Urban Agriculture and Food Safety

Dr. Pires focuses on quantitative methods to identify strategies that improve animal health and control infectious diseases in livestock on small-scale farms. The goals of her research and extension programs are to identify mitigation strategies to reduce the dissemination of foodborne pathogens in pre-harvest small farm environment. She is interested in applying and developing epidemiological tools such as temporal-spatial, molecular analysis and risk assessment in order to support risk-based surveillance and infectious disease control strategies, and the improvement of animal health and food safety.

Potential summer projects: (1) Needs assessment in small-scale farms and urban animal agriculture; (2) Prevalence of foodborne pathogens in livestock in small-scale farms; (3) Foodborne pathogens and risk factors in milk and dairy products in farms with direct-marketing. These research projects will provide students training in field and laboratory work, and introduction to epidemiological quantitative methods.

Contact Dr. Pires at

Maurice Pitesky, DVM

Department of Poultry Health and Food Safety Epidemiology

My focus is on poultry health and food safety epidemiology.   From a poultry health perspective we work on GIS based approaches toward understanding how diseases move in space and time in order to better mitigate the spread of zoonotic and epizoonitic diseases.   

From a food safety perspective my interests are primarily associated with Salmonella.  Specifically from a molecular perspective we are exploring the use of next generation sequencing technologies to better understand the virulence and pathogenicity of Salmonella Heidelberg. 

California is a national and global leader in sustainable agriculture.  Because of this, the development of ‘micro-commercial’ poultry facilities (smaller than 3,000 hens/broilers) has mushroomed.  Due to their relatively small size they are largely ignored with respect to food safety and poultry health.  Our group is interested in learning more about these type of producers in order to understand their practices from a sustainability perspective and food safety perspective.

Possible 10-week introductory research projects include:

  1. Researching the ‘transcriptome’ (i.e. gene expression) of Salmonella Heidelberg.  Student would learn Next Generation Sequencing laboratory based techniques and data analysis tools. 
  2. GIS based tools for monitoring avian diseases.  Student would use ArcGIS based software coupled with other data analysis tools to analyze avian diseases (some background in GIS preferred).
  3. Student would help develop, administer, and analyze data related to micro-commerical poultry production in California.

Please visit Dr. Pitesky's website for more information:

Lisa A. Tell, DVM

Department of Medicine and Epidemiology (See also: Pharmacokinetics, Zoo Animals/Wildlife)

Dr. Tell is the Director of the Veterinary Drug Residue Laboratory and serves as the Regional Director for the Minor Use Animal Drug and the Food Animal Avoidance Database Programs. She has been a full-time faculty member of the School of Veterinary Medicine since 1994. Dr. Tell's research interests are veterinary drug pharmacokinetic studies for zoological and food animal species. She has a particular interest in treatment options for fungal diseases in birds.

Research studies in Dr. Tell's laboratory vary from pivotal data studies seeking label claims for minor food animal species (particularly goats) to clinically related pharmacokinetic studies for companion birds. Many of the food animal related studies focus on drug residues and residue avoidance in the interest of protecting public health. Research experience gained from working in Dr. Tell's laboratory varies from the in life phase of the pharmacokinetic study to the good laboratory practice bench-top research activities.

Dr. Tell is also the lead investigator for the UC Davis Hummingbird Health program that investigates diseases in free ranging hummingbirds in California.  This program bands the birds, takes biometric measurements, and evaluates birds for infectious diseases.