Dan Shike and Tara Felix recently joined the University of Illinois Department of Animal Sciences as assistant professors.
"Both are well trained in the science and technology of the field and have outstanding characteristics that will make them leaders," says Neal Merchen, head of the Department of Animal Sciences. "We are excited to have them on board and are confident their contributions will continue to make U of I's program one of the strongest."
Felix grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor's degree in animal bioscience from Pennsylvania State University, a master's degree in animal science from the University of Florida and her doctorate in beef cattle nutrition from the Ohio State University.
"Dr. Felix comes to us from a strong Ph.D. program which has given her top-flight training. Besides having an outstanding technical background, her strong, positive personality will be a great compliment to the classroom," Merchen adds.
Shike, a native of Alexis, Ill., was raised on a diversified grain and livestock operation. He attended Black Hawk College – East Campus as an agriculture transfer student, received his bachelor's degree from Kansas State University in animal sciences and industry, a master's degree from U of I in animal science and his doctorate from U of I in ruminant nutrition. He currently coaches the livestock and meat animal evaluation teams at U of I.
"Dr. Shike has been on a visiting appointment with the university since 2007," Merchen says. "He's played an important role in research and teaching programs for the past several years. He has a strong background in beef cattle production, and we have good evidence that he works well with students."
Their appointments will combine research and teaching. Shike is currently working on several different research projects focusing on cow/calf nutrition and management.
"My current research includes evaluating least cost approach to winter feeding and management, utilizing crop residues and co-products, fetal programming, intake and efficiency of females, and early weaning and creep feeding," Shike says.
Felix's research focuses on how to produce a high-quality beef product for the consumer at a cheaper price. Her study involves the use of co-products from the ethanol industry to replace corn in the diet. She says this is important because it is no longer economically viable to feed corn. She is also working on a multi-state research project focused on beef production in a bio-energy environment.
In addition to research, Shike and Felix also have strong teaching roles in the department.
Shike is responsible for coordinating the meat animal evaluation program. He will teach the livestock and meat animal evaluation courses and the beef production course. He will also provide leadership and oversight to the livestock, meat, and meat animal evaluation teams.
Felix will begin teaching in the spring. She is developing a program that promotes practical knowledge application to real-world situations. She is also developing an applied animal nutrition course focused on feed and feed identification. This course will strengthen the undergraduate education in nutrition.