Merlyn NielsenPhoto Merlyn Nielsen

Professor, Animal Breeding

A218j Animal Science Building
Lincoln, NE 68583-0908
Phone: (402)472-6406
Fax: (402)472-6362

Website: Small Animal Lab

Mini CV



  • Ph.D., Major Animal Breeding, Minor Statistics; Iowa State University, 1974. Advisor: R. L. Willham
  • M.S., Major Animal Breeding, Minor Statistics; Iowa State University, 1972. Advisor: R. L. Willham
  • B.S., Major Animal Science, Minor Mathematics; University of Nebraska, 1970.


  • Professor (1984-present) University of Nebraska
  • Associate Professor (1978-1984) University of Nebraska
  • Visiting Scientist (1982-1983) University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Assistant Professor (1974-1984) University of Nebraska
  • Graduate Assistant (1970-1974) Iowa State University


  • Appointed Kermit Wagner Professor of Animal Science, 2006
  • Holling Family Award for Teaching Excellence, UNL, 2005
  • Gamma Sigma Delta Award of Merit, UNL Chapter, 2003
  • Outstanding Scientist, Nebraska Chapter of Sigma Xi, 2002
  • American Society of Animal Science, Rockefeller Prentice Memorial Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics, 1999
  • Team Effort Award, IANR, UNL, 1993
  • Gamma Sigma Delta Research Award, UNL Chapter, 1992
  • Membership in Sigma Xi, 1976
  • Membership in Phi Kappa Phi, 1971
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Trainee, 1970-1973
  • Membership in Gamma Sigma Delta, 1969
  • Membership in Alpha Zeta, 1969




  • Genetic variation in energy utilization and in reproduction in beef cattle and mice as a laboratory species.
  • Selection to change feed energy requirements for maintenance, including selection to change heat loss using mice as experimental animals.
  • Genetic variation in response to stress and gut-performance parameters.
  • Identification of selection goals and selection methods, including phenotypic and molecular techniques.
  • Selection and crossbreeding strategies to improve efficiency of beef production.




  • ASCI 330: Animal Breeding
    Semester: Fall
    Summary: Principles of animal breeding and their application to livestock improvement. Material includes explanations of genetic variation as a cause of variation in animal performance, characterization of the effects of selection, inbreeding, and crossbreeding, and application of these procedures to development of breeding programs to improve efficiency of production. 

  • ASCI 395D: Research Experience
    Semester: Summer and Fall
    Summary: Students will be placed in industry jobs with specific learning objectives declared before entering into employment. Experience in some aspect of animal agriculture.

  • ASCI 399: Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars Freshman Seminar
    Semester: Summer and Fall
    Summary: Individual or group projects in research, literature review, or extension of course work under supervision and evaluation of a departmental faculty member.

  • ASCI 932 - Quantitative Genetics Experimental Methods
    Semester: (Offered even-numbered calendar years)
    Summary: Use of biometrical and population genetics and related physiology, nutrition, pathology, meats, and economics, to develop intrapopulation breeding methods capable of increasing the net bio-economic efficiency of animal production.




  • McDonald, J.M. and M.K. Nielsen. 2007. Renewed selection for heat loss in mice: Direct responses and correlated responses in feed intake, body weight, litter size and conception rate. J. Anim. Sci. 85:658-666.
  • Xu, D., A. Buehner, J. Xu, T. Lambert, L. Meyerle, C. Nekl, M.K. Nielsen, and Y. Zhou. 2006.. A polymorphic glucocorticoid receptor in a mouse population may explain inherited altered stress response and increased anxiety-type behaviors. FASEB J. Express. doi: 10.1096/fj.06-5926fje:E1-E9.
  • Eggert, D.L., and M.K. Nielsen. 2006. Comparison of feed energy costs of maintenance, lean deposition, and fat deposition in three lines of mice selected for heat loss. J. Anim. Sci. 84:276-282.
  • McDonald, J.M, and M.K. Nielsen. 2006. Correlated responses in maternal performance following divergent selection for heat loss in mice. J. Anim. Sci. 84:300-304.
  • Cammack, K.M., M.K. Nielsen, K.A. Leymaster and T.G. Jenkins. 2005. Estimates of genetic parameters for feed intake, feeding behavior, and daily gain in composite ram lambs. J. Anim. Sci.83:777-785.
  • Leamy, L.J., K. Elo, M.K. Nielsen, L.D. Van Vleck, and D. Pomp. 2005. Genetic variance and covariance patterns for body weight and energy balance characters in an advanced intercross population of mice. Genet. Sel. Evol. 37:151-173.
  • Kgwatalala, P.M., J.L. DeRoin and M.K. Nielsen. 2004. Performance of mice lines divergently selected for heat loss when exposed to different environmental temperatures. I. Reproductive performance, pup survival and metabolic hormones. J. Anim. Sci. 82:2876-2883.
  • Kgwatalala, P.M. and M.K. Nielsen. 2004. Performance of mice lines divergently
    selected for heat loss when exposed to different environmental temperatures. II. Feed intake, growth, fatness and body organs. J. Anim. Sci. 82:2884-2891.
  • Wesolowski, S.R., M.F. Allan, M.K. Nielsen and D. Pomp. 2003. Evaluation of hypothalamic gene expression in mice divergently selected for heat loss. Physiol. Genomics 13:129-137.
  • McDaneld, T.G., M.K. Nielsen and J.L. Miner. 2002. Uncoupling proteins (UCP) and energy expenditure in mice divergently selected for heat loss. J. Anim. Sci. 80:602-608.
  • Mousel, M.R., W.W. Stroup and M.K. Nielsen. 2001. Locomotor activity, core body temperature and circadian rhythms in mice selected for high or low heat loss. J. Anim. Sci. 79:861-868.