General areas of research in physiology include factors affecting gonadal development (ovarian and testis) and sex differentiation, factors affecting embryo development and reproductive hormone research, and genes regulating egg and sperm function. Undergraduate employment opportunities include maintaining mice and rat colonies including daily care, dissections of rats and mice, in vitro fertilization of mice, genotyping mice to determine if they carry the trans-gene, jobs in pig physiology, general lab work, and aiding with blood collection in cattle, artificial insemination, ultrasonography, palpation, and estrus detection.
ONGOING RESEARCH PROJECTS:
- Research in cattle can often apply to humans; cattle are good models due to similarities in reproductive cycles, ovary size, hormone secretion, ect. Studies on follicular development and ovulation in the cow aid in understanding ovarian disorders in women.
- Studies are conducted on the effects of hormones, nutrients, and environment on pregnancy outcome in mice and cattle.
- GnRH receptor gene (hormone receptor) research on varying levels is being done in breeds of swine.
Embryonic Development Research
- The role of GnRH and methods to improve early embryonic development are being researched.
- One research goal is finding contraceptive methods that could be used in livestock, humans, and wild animals.
- A more successful way of freezing pig embryos is being researched. UNL is 1 of 10 labs working on this, and has had success of a farrowing sow.
Genetic Alterations Research
- The physiology departments has had success with transgenic mice, mice that have genes inserted similar to the process that is done in plants to make "Round-Up Ready" soybeans or Bt corn, and chiameric mice, mice that contain cells from two different genotypes but are not a crossbred.
- Cell-specific knock-out mice are produced to determine functions of genes in reproductive processes and ovulation rate.