University of Florida, Department of Animal Sciences

Mateescu's Animal Genetics and Genomics Lab

Dr. Raluca Mateescu

Dr. Raluca Mateescu is a Professor of Quantitative Genetics & Genomics in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Florida.

She joined the faculty at Florida in 2014 after serving on the Animal Science faculty at Oklahoma State University for 7 years.

She received a B.S. degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Bucharest University, Romania and received her M.S and Ph.D. in Animal Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University.

Graduate Students

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Kaitlyn is a native of southwest Florida and grew up in the beef cattle industry. She received her B.S. in Animal Science at the University of Florida in 2014 and her M.S. in Animal Breeding at Texas A&M University in 2016.  Kaitlyn is very excited to be back in Florida and to have the opportunity to be a part of Dr. Mateescu’s thermotolerance project where her passion for both genetics and the beef cattle industry get to come together.

Ph.D student in Animal Sciences

Kaitlyn Sarlo Davila

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Eduardo grew up in Miami. He graduated from UF with a B.A. in Physics, B.S. in Biology, and Business minor. He became interested in biological research after working in a medical bioengineering lab in the University of Miami and paints in his free time. Eduardo has been a Veterinary Technician for two years and plans on going to vet school next year to pursue a DVM/PhD dual degree with focus on either aquatic or exotic animal genetics or bioengineering.

M.S. student in Animal Sciences

Eduardo Rodriquez

Joel is from Bogota, Colombia. Joel received a B.S. in Animal Science and a M.S in genetics from the National University of Colombia and a PhD from UF. During his PhD studies, he used bioinformatic tools to investigate meat quality in beef cattle. Joel is currently a postdoc in Dr. Mateescu’s lab working on developing an analytical pipeline to estimate heterosis in an Angus-Brahman mixed population and to identify the effect of allele origin on association assessments in the same population. Joel will be working on association analysis using animal models such as mouse and rat at the University of California San Diego next year.

Postdoctoral Associate in Animal Sciences, visit his personal website

Joel Leal-Gutierrez

Visiting Researchers / Interns

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Dr. Serdal Dikmen is a Professor in Department of Animal Science of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Bursa Uludağ University in Turkey.

He graduated from Faculty of Veterinary Medicine on 1999 and got his DVM degree and finished his PhD in 2004 at Health Science Institute. He is now working as a Professor at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Bursa Uludağ University and also he has a Courtesy Professor Position in the Department of Animal Sciences at University of Florida.

Visiting Professor - DVM, PhD, Turkey

Serdal Dikmen

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Cătălin is a PhD student in Animal Science at University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest, Romania. In 2014, he received his Bachelor degree in Animal Science, he became an Engineer in Animal Science, and in 2016 his Master degree in Projecting and Developing Animals Farms, both from the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest. Since 2014 he has been working as a Researcher at National Research-Development Institute for Animal Biology and Nutrition, Romania. He is trying to find the best biometric model that will give the most accurate breeding values.

Visiting scholar, 2019 - PhD, Romania.

Mircea-Cătălin Rotar

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Andrea Nicole Nuñez is from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She received a B.Sc. in Agriculture from Zamorano in 2015. She started a MS in Project Management at the Technological University of Honduras and worked at the Bovine Traceability Project in Honduras with the National Service of Agrifood Health and Safety (SENASA) for 2years. Andrea decided to come to the UF because she has always thought of genetics as an approach to solving issues involving cattle farming in her country. Andrea enjoys being outside, admiring nature and always wanted to know everything about how the nature works. Andrea wants to make an impact in her country by improving the cattle production systems better and making it more sustainable, including searching for the best breeds adapted to high temperatures (Honduras and Florida have similar climates). 

Short Term Scholar in Animal Sciences

Andrea Nuñez

Undergraduate Students

Alyssa grew up in Farmersville, Ohio. She will graduate with her B.S. in Animal Sciences in the fall of 2019 and is hoping to attend veterinary school next year. In the future, she would like to open up a mixed animal practice. She has always had passion for animals, but she also enjoys sports and is currently on the University of Florida soccer team.

Alyssa was awarded a Summer 2019 Undergraduate Research Internship sponsored by IFAS to explore thermotolerance in beef cattle.

Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Alyssa Howell

David is form Miami, Florida. He is in his 3rd year as an Animal Science major at the University of Florida. He hopes to continue his education to become a veterinarian for the Army. He’s always had a passion and love for animals and hopes to attain more experience with research and large animals. David plans on applying to vet school this upcoming cycle in 2019. 

David received a  University Scholars Program Award  in 2019 to investigate Role of SLICK gene in thermotolerance of Brangus cattle.

Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

David Dominquez

Maria moved to US from Santiago, Chile and grew up in Weston, Florida. She received her Associates of Arts degree in Biology from Broward College, and transferred to the University of Florida to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences. Working at a veterinary hospital she became interested in animal reproduction and genetics. She hopes to continue her education and go to Vet School where she would like to specialize in Theriogenology. Dr. Mateescu’s class as well as her lab has allowed Maria to learn more about animal genetics and given her much greater appreciation for research.”

Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Maria Noquera

Past Members

Zaira Estrada was a PhD student in the Animal Molecular and Cellular Biology Program in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Florida. She received a Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology engineering and a Master's degree in Science with an option in Agricultural Sciences in the Autonomous University of Yucatan, Mexico. During her bachelor's and master's degree she started to work with molecular immunology in Pelibuey and Creole sheep. She found that genes from the immune mechanism of defense against gastrointestinal infections of sheep present high expression in lambs during primary and secondary infections of Haemonchus contortus. Also, during her Master she did a research stay in The Moredun Research Institute. Some of the studies performed by Zaira Estrada have been published in the Journal of Parasite Immunology.

Former PhD Student, AMCB

Zaira Estrada

Joel is from Bogota, Colombia and received a B.S. in Animal Science and MS in genetics from the National University of Colombia. Since Joel was in high school he was always fascinated by genetics. He found it very interesting how the genetic material shapes life and drives evolution. Joel understood that similarly, genetics is very useful to animal production because it allows for selection and contributes to variability.  Joel understands that consumer satisfaction is the base of any commercial activity and offering a high quality meat is the main goal of the beef industry. However, meat quality is a complex trait, because there is a phenotypic contribution from environment, genetics and their interaction all in which affect meat quality. Joel is particularly interested in determining what pathways, genomic regions, genes, and polymorphisms, contribute to this phenotypic variation.

Former PhD Student, Animal Sciences. Currently Postdoc in UF ANS

Joel Leal-Gutierrez

Sarah is a Florida native and grew up in the town of Groveland. Throughout her youth she was active in sports but was always around her family’s cattle operation. During high school she became more involved with the family herd and began showing cattle through the Florida show circuit. This involvement sparked her passion for the beef cattle industry and she decided she wanted to pursue a career within the field. Sarah went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science with a focus in beef cattle production from the University of Florida in December 2016. Throughout her time as an undergraduate Sarah became more involved in the Florida cattle industry and found that she had the desire to help Florida cattle producers by improving Bos Indicus influenced cattle. Sarah was very interested in the multiple ongoing projects within Dr. Mateescu’s research group that revolved around Bos Indicus cattle research. Sarah hopes to dig deeper into the research that is proving to add value to Florida beef producers by improving the meat quality generated from Bos Indicus cattle.

Former MS Student, Animal Sciences. Extension Agent UGA, GA

Sarah Flowers

Heather grew up in Ocklawaha, FL. As a young child, she got involved in 4-H and FFA, which introduced her to many aspects of agriculture. The beef cattle industry really sparked her interest and eventually turned into a passion. Heather graduated from UF in 2016 with a bachelor in Ag Education and Communication - communicating new developments to producers and consumers is something she believes is vital to the ag industry.  Heather is involved with several projects studying genetic factors affecting nutritional value, quality of beef, and thermotolerance. She is looking forward to spreading the knowledge gained from this research to educate producers on the impact of using genetic information. It will give producers the knowledge needed to produce healthier, higher quality beef, which will make them more competitive on today’s market where the consumers are more and more interested in a higher quality, healthier diet. 

Former MS Student, Animal Sciences. Teacher, Yankeetown School, FL

Heather Hamblen

Mesfin was born and raised in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. He studied Veterinary Medicine at Addis Ababa University, and later worked at the same university for a short period of time as a lecturer. Mesfin then joined Dr. Mateescus's lab at the Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida where he currently works on the genetic background of various traits in cattle, sheep and goat.  He is passionate about all things science in general, and genetics, animal health and environmental adaptation in particular. His future goal is to get further involved in interdisciplinary research aimed at understanding how the interplay between genetics and environment affects disease resistance and environmental adaptation. Outside of school, he likes to play soccer and do other outdoorsy things.  Mesfin is also a big fan of Arsenal, a soccer club that plays in the English Premier League (although he will not hold his breath until they win the EPL ... sad)

Former MS Student, Animal Sciences. PhD student UF College of Medicine

Mesfin Gobena

Maria moved to US from Santiago, Chile and grew up in Weston, Florida. She received her Associates of Arts degree in Biology from Broward College, and transferred to the University of Florida to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences. Working at a veterinary hospital she became interested in animal reproduction and genetics. She hopes to continue her education and go to Vet School where she would like to specialize in Theriogenology. Dr. Mateescu’s class as well as her lab has allowed Maria to learn more about animal genetics and given her much greater appreciation for research.”

Former undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Maria Noquera

Alexa was awarded a Summer 2018 Undergraduate Research Internship sponsored by IFAS to  investigate “genetics of thermotolerance in beef cattle.” She is from Miami, FL.

Alexa is a senior at the University of Florida majoring in Animal Sciences on the pre-veterinary track. With an equestrian background and experience assisting at a beef cattle reproduction barn, she hopes to become an equine or large animal veterinarian.

Former undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Alexa Chiroussot

Rebecca Stone is a freshman at the University of Florida majoring in Animal Sciences on a pre-veterinary track. She is from Lakeland, Florida and has recently become involved in volunteering at different equestrian facilities.  Gaining more experience, she is leaning toward a career in large or exotic veterinary medicine.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Rebecca Stone

Blair was awarded a Summer 2017 Undergraduate Research Internship sponsored by the UF/IFAS - Office of the Dean for Research to investigate "Genetic markers for beef quality and tenderness".

Blair grew up in Apopka, FL and became involved in agriculture my junior year of high school when she joined the FFA. Growing up she spent most of her time around horses, so it wasn’t until she came to the University of Florida that she realized her passion for beef cattle. Interning with Dr. Mateescu has allowed Blair to see just how important genetics is within the beef industry. Blair is excited to see what the future holds for beef cattle and she hopes to work in the industry when she graduates.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Blair Ballin

Lauren Peacock graduated from the University of Florida in May 2018 with her B.S. in Animal Science, and is currently attending Veterinary Science at Cornell University. She was a teaching assistant for Dr. Mateescu’s Genetics of Domestic Animals course for two semesters, and began working in her lab after discovering an interest in genetics. Lauren grew up in Bradenton, Florida, and plans on attending veterinary school to study mixed animal medicine.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Lauren Peacock

Sammie grew up in Oviedo, Florida. She graduated from University of Florida where she studied animal science with a minor in leadership. She hopes to continue her education by becoming an equine or large animal veterinarian. She has always loved horses but didn't truly get to work with other large livestock animals until college when she started working in Dr. Mateescu's lab. Samantha got accepted and is attending UF College of Veterinary Medicine starting Fall 2018.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Samantha Eifert

Eduardo grew up in Miami. He graduated from UF with a B.A. in Physics, B.S. in Biology, and Business minor. He became interested in biological research after working in a medical bioengineering lab in the University of Miami and paints in his free time. Eduardo has been a Veterinary Technician for two years and plans on going to vet school next year to pursue a DVM/PhD dual degree with focus on either aquatic or exotic animal genetics or bioengineering.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Eduardo Rodriquez

Victoria received a  University Scholars Program Award  in 2016 to investigate Genetic markers in calpastatin gene associated with beef tenderness.

"For as long as I can remember science has been an important part of my life. Every year in elementary and middle school my school pushed us to have better science projects going as far as in middle to have invention fair. It has only felt natural to continue that at the collegiate level in research. I have had a strong interest in genetics and was excited to join Dr. Mateescu’s research program."

Victoria is currently attending Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Victoria Roe

Tamia was a 4th year student at  the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences at Florida A&M University, in Tallahassee , Fl. Throughout high school Tamia was very active in sports and maintaining high academics, and continuously dedicated her summers to science. She participated in FAMU’s RATLR Program where her interests were stimulated in the biological and earth sciences, with emphasis in agricultural and food sciences, natural resource management, and related disciplines such as Animal Science. Tamia wishes to go above and beyond her wildest dreams by achieving a degree in veterinary pathobiology and being able to practice in exotic wildlife, with hopes of focusing on wildlife diseases and conservation genetics while providing services and awareness to third world countries.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences, Florida A&M University

Tamia Campbell

Katie came to the University of Florida to pursue a career surrounding her passion: beef cattle. She grew up on a small farm and was involved in 4-H in high school. It was her 4-H leader, Frances Yarborough, who showed her how her passion for beef cattle could become a career.

"After taking Dr. Mateescu's class, I was intrigued. I wanted to learn more. There are so many possibilities in genetics, and that excites me."

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Katie Odell

Alexandra transferred to the University of Florida about two years ago to continuing her studies in pursuing veterinary medicine. Being that she was born in Tampa, Florida, she was raised with various house pets, including three dogs. It was not until Alexandra transferred to the University of Florida, that she began to gain an interest in cattle. With Dr. Mateescu’s lab, Alexandra has been given the opportunity to explore the genetics of cattle and give her a greater appreciation for research in general. Despite Alexandra’s interest in cattle, she plans to attend vet school to obtain a DVM focusing on small animal practice and shelter medicine.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Alexandra DeHoyos

Carly graduated from the University of Florida in 2016 with her bachelor's degree in Animal Sciences. She is currently a student in the Class of 2020 University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. During her time with our lab, she was mostly focused on internal parasite resistance in small ruminants. She presented her research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in early 2016. Going forward, Carly hopes to incorporate her love for genetics and research into her career as a veterinarian.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Carly Fredericks

Alexis was born in Homosassa, FL and raised on a small cow/calf operation. Alexis graduated in April 2017 with a BS in ANS with focus in beef production. Alexis was involved in numerous clubs, including Block & Bridle and Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen. She served an internship at Deseret Cattle & Citrus, and worked in multiple projects including embryo transfers, artificial insemination and heifer development. Her internship gave her a better perspective of the needs of Florida cattlemen and the economic impact that genetic selection can offer producers. Alexis has worked in Dr. Mateescu’s lab and realizes the importance of genomics in the beef industry and the significance it has for producers making better decisions within their herd.

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Alexis Strickland-Tilton

Sarah graduated in 2015 from the University of Florida with a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science.  She currently studies Veterinary Medicine at UF, where her interest is large animal medicine and reproduction.  In her spare time, she enjoys riding horses and hiking with her Boxer dog, Maui.  

Former Undergraduate Student, Animal Sciences

Sarah Randell

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