I am originally from the suburbs of St. Louis and grew up showing Tennessee Walking horses and working at a veterinary clinic after school. I earned my B.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia where I developed a passion for teaching and research. I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) within the Department of Animal Science. After graduation, I taught Human, Animal, and Reproductive Physiology as an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Missouri for three years before returning to UNL to join the faculty within the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in June 2021.
Approximately 49 million couples struggle with infertility worldwide and reproductive failure is a major constraint to the efficiency of livestock production. The broad focus of my research program is elucidating the biology of male reproduction and endocrinology. More specifically, we study the development and function of the mammalian testis, especially Leydig cells which produce steroid hormones that are critical for reproductive success. In my lab, we are investigating physiological, cellular, and molecular regulators of Leydig function using murine and porcine models. A deeper understanding of the factors that affect Leydig cell function is essential to the development of novel therapies or intervention strategies to maximize fertility in both animals and humans.
In addition to biological research, I am also interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. My previous pedagogy research has centered on the identification of effective methods to enhance learning in undergraduate physiology courses. My long-term teaching goal within the SVMBS is to identify innovative and evidence-based strategies to enhance deep learning and knowledge retention to better educate future veterinary professionals and biomedical scientists.
I have just completed my first year as an assistant professor at the UNL Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center. In addition to my anatomic pathology residency at Kansas State University, I earned a Ph.D. in Preventive Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University. My primary research project included research focused on Campylobacter jejuni pathogenesis and the development of antimicrobial therapeutics that could decrease Campylobacter colonization in chickens. During vet school at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, I worked on wildlife pathology projects ranging from aquatic mammal mortalities in San Diego, California, to collecting data for "Project Snowstorm." In addition to my diagnostic biopsy cases, I continue to have a strong interest in avian and exotic animal pathology, especially insects.
My hobbies include throwing pottery at the LUX art center in Lincoln, baking, walking my dog, and trying to keep my houseplants alive.
Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Student
Niki Rice, a recent UNL graduate from Hershey, NE, was featured in the Student Spotlight section of IANR News this summer. Niki is now a first year veterinary student in the Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine.
Read more about Niki's interests and professional goals here.