Dr. Yates' Stress Physiology Lab

Yates' Lab Group Picture

Research Interests

We study metabolic fetal programming related to maternal stress, placental insufficiency, and intrauterine growth restriction. In humans and companion animals, IUGR-born individuals (~10% of all US-born babies; ~25% worldwide) are at much greater risk for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and other metabolic disorders that shorten life expectancy and reduced quality of life. In food animals, IUGR leads to less efficient growth and poorer carcass quality, which reduces the financial sustainability of meat animal production.

Our lab utilizes pregnant sheep and rodents as physiological models for humans and ruminant livestock species. We have developed research techniques to allow us to measure fetal physiological responses to maternal stress factors in real-time over the last trimester of pregnancy. In addition, we can study glucose metabolism in live animals, primary tissue samples, and cells cultures. A large factor in metabolic homeostasis is proper skeletal muscle growth, and we have developed ex vivo and in vitro protocols for measuring functional capacity of muscle stem cells, as well as microscopy and immunoblot techniques for determining muscle fiber dynamics.

Our long-term research goal is to identify the developmental adaptations that occur in utero in response to maternal stressors and then use those findings to develop postnatal nutritional/pharmacological intervention strategies for IUGR-born offspring.

Our approach encompasses investigation at 3 levels: the cellular/molecular level, the physiological system level, and the whole-animal level. The benefit of this approach is two-fold. First, our findings generate a broader understanding of the physiological issues that we study. Second, our grad students and undergrads gain experience in a wider range of research skills. It would not be uncommon for a lab member to feed and weigh sheep, stain tissue sections for microscopy, change media in cell cultures, perform a hormone assay on blood samples, surgically implant fetal femoral catheters, measure gene expression in isolated RNA, and attend a seminar by an internationally-recognized leader in the field all within a normal week. In addition, our grad students have the opportunity to develop teaching and lecture skills by acting as teaching assistants for Dr. Yates' Animal Physiological Systems course taught each Fall. TAs get hands-on experience in developing teaching materials and guiding 20 junior-level undergrads through hands-on learning activities once a week.

Overview of Research Topics

  • Adaptive changes in adrenergic regulation of muscle growth and metabolism in IUGR fetuses
  • Adaptive changes in cytokine/prostaglandin regulation of muscle growth and metabolism in IUGR fetuses
  • Adaptive changes in immune cell populations in IUGR fetal skeletal muscle
  • Mechanistic differences between β1 and β2 agonists in feedlot animals, especially regarding their effects on growth, metabolic phenotypes, and animal well-being
  • Differences between long-term and intermediate-length maternal stressor on fetal metabolic and growth adaptations
  • Interactions between adrenergic and inflammatory systems during fetal stress

Lab Members

Dr. Dustin YatesDustin Yates, PhD – Dr. Yates was born and raised in the small “Cotton & Cattle” town of Weinert, Texas in the west-central part of the state. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 with a BS in animal science. After managing the graveyard shift in a large feedmill for a year, Dr. Yates returned to school at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas and earned a MS in reproductive physiology with Dr. Mike Salisbury in 2006. His Master’s thesis examined the mitigating effects of seaweed extract on heat stress-induced subfertility in male goats. Dr. Yates then joined the lab of Dr. Tim Ross at New Mexico State University and graduated with a PhD in reproductive physiology in 2009. His dissertation produced eight manuscripts related to stress-induced male and female subfertility. In 2010, Dr. Yates began a four-year postdoctoral research fellowship in the lab of Dr. Sean Limesand at The University of Arizona. During this time, Dr. Yates gained many of the research skills and techniques that his lab uses today. His research with Dr. Limesand produced several key new pieces of information regarding fetal programming of muscle growth and metabolism, as well as several novel laboratory and surgical techniques for studying fetal physiology. In March of 2013, Dr. Yates began his current faculty position at University of Nebraska - Lincoln as Animal Stress Physiologist in the Animal Science department. He is also a member of the Nebraska Center for Prevention of Obesity Diseases (NPOD). Dr. Yates and his wife reside in nearby Eagle, NE and have two wonderful young children, a couple dogs, and a 1962 Cadillac Fleetwood.

Lab Manager

Kristin Beede with a sheepKristin Beede, M.S.
Kristin was born in Kearney, Nebraska and after graduating from high school attended UNL with the original goal of attending vet school. Kristin completed her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science in 2010 and then took an internship at Schering-Plough Animal Health for eight months. Following that she decided to continue her education in Reproductive Physiology and headed back to University of Nebraska - Lincoln to work on her Master’s degree with Dr. Jennifer Wood. After completing her Masters work in 2013 which focused on the effects of maternal obesity on adipose and muscle development in the mid-gestational mouse, Kristin took a job at GeneSeek as a laboratory technician in their veterinary diagnostics division. After one year at GeneSeek, a position opened up at the University with Dr. Yates so Kristin got the opportunity to get back to research which is what she loves to do. Kristin is in charge of the daily activities of the laboratory as well as training laboratory skills to the graduate and undergraduate students. Kristin along with her husband Matt have two daughters, Emma and Nora, and two dogs Cruz and Dezi. In her free time she helps manage their family business Beede Outdoors.

PhD Students

Caitlin Cadaret with sheep
Caitlin Cadaret, MS (PhD expected 2020)

Caitlin found her passion for animal agriculture at a young age growing up on a part-time cow-calf operation in Northern California. While the original intent was to go to veterinary school, during her undergraduate career she found a special interest in Physiology and a desire to teach. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from California State University, Chico she joined the Yates lab in 2015. Caitlin completed a Master’s Degree in 2017 and has since continued onto a PhD looking at how maternal stress effects fetal growth, development, and metabolism. Part of Caitlin’s assistantship involves a 50% teaching appointment in which she teaches and performs pedagogical research aimed at increasing long-term retention of knowledge in the undergraduate Animal Physiological Systems course. Upon graduating, she plans to stay in academia and teach at the University level. AWARDS: 2016 - William G. Whitmore Memorial Student Travel Grant, Univ of Nebraska-Lincoln 2016 – 2016 - Aspen/Snowmass Perinatal Biology Travel Award 2016 - USDA/NIH Graduate College Student Travel grant, University of Nebraska - Lincoln 2017 - Milton E. Mohr Fellowship, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, IANR 2017 - Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant-Honorable Mention, University of Nebraska - Lincoln Graduate Studies

Joslyn Beard with sheep
Joslyn Beard, MS (PhD expected 2020)

Joslyn was born on a 2-acre farm just outside the city limits of Las Cruces, New Mexico were she developed a passion for the agriculture lifestyle growing up with cattle, sheep, and pigs. Having a desire for a career in veterinarian medicine, Joslyn attended New Mexico State University earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science in 2015. During her undergraduate career she found a passion for research while working for Dr. Hallford, and decided to switch paths and pursue a master’s degree at New Mexico State University. During her master’s program Joslyn served as the wool judging coach and a teaching assistant for the introductory animal science class. In regards to her research, she investigated the mechanisms involved with maternal stimuli during fetal development on beef progeny performance. At the end of her masters Joslyn’s interest in fetal programming only grew, and she sought out a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms that affect animal performance based on insults received in-utero, which led her to University of Nebraska - Lincoln in January of 2018 where she is currently co-advised by Dr. Yates and Dr. Mulliniks. AWARDS: 2017 - Dean’s Award of Excellence, New Mexico State University 2017 - ARSGSA Need Based Travel Award, New Mexico State University 2017 - Neumann Travel Award, New Mexico State University

Masters Students

Taylor Barnes with a sheep
Taylor Barnes, BS (MS expected 2018)

Taylor grew up in Gretna, Nebraska surrounded by animals both large and small. She showed horses and other species in 4-H which sparked a passion for animal science and teaching at an early age. After two years at two other colleges, she made the move to University of Nebraska - Lincoln to study animal science which ended up sparking an interest in physiology classes. She had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for three of those physiology classes. While at University of Nebraska - Lincoln she also played a role in helping to develop the Hub (a student study/commons area), ran an undergraduate career networking night, and stayed heavily involved in 4-H. After graduating with her Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science in May 2016 she joined Dr. Yates and Dr. Jessica Peterson’s labs to earn her Master's degree. Taylor’s current career aspirations is to pursue a PhD and obtain an academic teaching appointment. AWARDS: 2017 - 2nd Place Graduate Student Competition, Western Section American Society of Animal Science 2017 - William G. Whitmore Memorial Student Travel Grant, University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Robert Posont with a sheep
Robert Posont, BS (MS expected 2019)

Robert was born in Denver, Colorado before moving to a small acreage just outside of Lincoln, Nebraska in 2001. He grew up in rural Nebraska attending District 145 schools surrounded by his own pets, and working with the livestock of his neighbors. Robert found his true passion for animal agriculture and care in 2013 when he spent the Summer working as Wrangler at YMCA Camp Kitaki. Upon graduation from Waverly High School that same year he began his undergraduate degree at The University of Toronto. In May of 2017 Robert received his Honors Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Animal Physiology and Health & Disease, and a minor in Immunology. During his final year of study Robert found himself drawn toward research in Comparative Endocrinology and Stress Physiology. In June of 2017 he joined Dr. Yates’ laboratory, and began his graduate career at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His current research involves the effects of maternal immunological activation and cytokine release on both fetal and lamb muscle development and metabolism. Upon completion of his Master’s Degree at University of Nebraska - Lincoln Robert intends to pursue a career as a research scientist and consultant for the United States government within the USDA, FDA, or NIH.

Rebecca Swanson with a sheep Rebecca Swanson, BS (MS expected 2020)

Rebecca grew up in Vacaville, California on her family’s hobby ranch where she developed a passion for raising livestock. Her passion led to her involvement in FFA and the livestock show industry throughout high school and an opportunity to be employed at a custom butcher shop and commercial cow-calf operation. Upon graduating from high school, Rebecca attended California State University, Chico where she earned a B.S. in Animal Science and a B.S. in Agricultural Business. During her time at CSU, Chico, Rebecca was a Research Associate and Herdsmen at the University Farm Beef Unit. She held several Executive Board positions for the California Young Cattlemen’s Committee and the Chico State Young Cattlemen’s Association during her time as an undergraduate. Rebecca had the opportunity to work on several research projects and even lead a project during her junior and senior years. At the conclusion of the research project, she was able to present her research at WSASAS and several other meetings and classes associated with CSU, Chico. Rebecca was a member of the 2017 nationally ranked WSASAS Champion Academic Quadrathlon team. Rebecca’s passion for Animal Science Research and Education led to her decision to attend graduate school landing her in the Yates Lab at University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Undergraduate Students

Marytza Abebe and sheepMarytza Abebe (BS expected 2018) - Marytza was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has had a passion for animals since before she could remember and after graduating from Lincoln High School she decided to study at University of Nebraska - Lincoln to pursue her dream of become a veterinarian. Marytza is a member of several organizations including Diversity Ambassadors, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Gamma Sigma Delta. Currently Marytza is on track to graduate from University of Nebraska - Lincoln in May of 2018 and plans to attend Vet school with the goal of specializing in exotic animals.

Former Students

Sophia Lentfer (BS expected 2020)- Sophia is from Firth, Nebraska where she comes from a background showing pigs and sheep in 4-H and FFA. Sophia graduated from Norris High School and is currently a freshman with an Animal Science major. She decided to study at University of Nebraska - Lincoln because of the programs they offer as well as it being close to home. Sophia is on the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Meats Judging Team and in the Kappa Delta Sorority. She plans to continue to pursue her bachelor's degree with a goal of staying heavily involved in agriculture.

Elena Merrick, MS -Elena grew up in the rural community of Danvers, Illinois. Elena began her college career at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyoming where she received her Associate’s Degree in Animal Science. After, she decided to move back home to Central Illinois and attend Illinois State University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in May of 2015. In August of 2015, she started graduate school at University of Nebraska - Lincoln in Dr. Yates’s lab. Her research involved the effects of maternal stress on prenatal muscle development and glucose metabolism. She received her Master’s Degree in August 2017 and has since took a job in Extension Outreach in Central Nebraska.

Hannah Riley, BS –Hannah got a BS in Animal Science with a minor in Agribusiness in May 2016. She worked in our lab from 2014 through her graduation where she completed an Undergraduate Creative Activity and Research (UCARE) project. Hannah is currently pursuing her Master’s degree with Dr. Mary Drewnoski at University of Nebraska - Lincoln in heifer development.

Visual Research Projects

Click the picture for a PDF (830 kb)
Final NPOD Spring Retreat 2017 Merrick

Click the picture for a PDF (1.2 mb)
Caderet Poster

Click the picture for a PDF (1.07 mb)
Perinatal Biology

Click the picture for a PDF (691 kb)

Click the picture for a PDF (586 kb)
Taylor's NOPD


  1. Cadaret CN, Yates DT. 2017. Retrieval practices are more beneficial to long-term information retention when spaced 5 days after introducing physiology topics compared to 1 day afterward. Adv. Physiol. Educ. (in press).

  2. Cadaret CN, Beede KA, Riley HE, Yates DT. 2017. Acute exposure of primary rat soleus muscle to zilpaterol HCl (β2 adrenergic agonist), TNFα, or IL-6 in culture increases glucose oxidation rates independent of the impact on insulin signaling or glucose uptake. Cytokine. 96:107-113. PDF (681 kb)

  3. Posont RJ, Cadaret CN, Barnes TL, Yates DT. 2017. A potential role for mTORC1/2 in β2 adrenergic regulation of skeletal muscle glucose oxidation in models of intrauterine growth restriction. Diabesity. 3:9-12. PDF (639 kb)

  4. Yates DT, Cadaret CN, Beede KA, Riley HE, Macko AR, Anderson MJ, Camacho LE, Limesand SW. 2016. Intrauterine growth-restricted sheep fetuses exhibit smaller hindlimb muscle fibers and lower proportions of insulin-sensitive Type I fibers near term. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 310:R1020-1029. PDF (1,084 kb)

Proceedings Papers

  1. Merrick EM, Cadaret CN, Barnes TL, Beede KA, Yates DT. 2017. Metabolic regulation by stress systems in bovine myoblasts and ovine fetal skeletal muscle. Proc. West. Sect. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. 68: 87-91. PDF (418 kb)
  2. Cadaret CN, Beede KA, Merrick EM, Barnes TL, Loy JD, Yates DT. 2017. Maternal inflammation at mid-gestation in pregnant rats impairs fetal muscle growth & development at term. Proc. West. Sect. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. 68: 213-218. PDF (401 kb)
  3. Barnes TL, Kubik R, Cadaret CN, Beede KA, Merrick EM, Chung S, Schmidt TB, Petersen JL, Yates DT. 2017. Identifying hyperthermia in heat-stressed lambs and its effects on β agonist–stimulated glucose oxidation in muscle. Proc. West. Sect. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. 68: 106-110. PDF (402 kb)
  4. Cadaret CN, Beede KA, Riley HE, Yates DT. 2016. Insulin-associated and insulin-independent impacts of β adrenergic agonists and pro-inflammatory cytokines on glucose metabolism in primary rat soleus muscle. Proc., West. Sect., Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. 67:115-119. PDF (624 kb)


Dr. Jessica Petersen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Assistant Professor
Animal Functional Genomics
Dr. Andrea Cupp
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Professor
Reproductive Physiologist/Beef Physiologist
Dr. Sean Limesand
University of Arizona, Professor
Fetal Development and Growth

Lab Adventures


Elena's Video
Caitlin's Video
Taylor's Video
Lambs at Play Video

Still Life

Lab Group Selfie Lab Group
Lamb and Elena
Lamb and Taylor
Lamb and Caitlin
Even the sheep get weighed
Caitlin and Dustin taking care of lamb in a bucket
Lamb in a bucket
Dustin and Caitlin checking the lamb out
Vaccination is part of health even for the lambs
Just relaxing with Dustin
Even people need a rest
Sleeping lamb
More health checks on the moms this time
Ah supper is served to two lambs
Hen party for the Ewes
Cleaning up
Dustin sheering sheep
Help is on the way little lamb
Yates' Lab Group of a different color
Poster 1
Poster 2
Poster 3
Poster 4