Congratulations to University of Minnesota students Ilya Slizovskiy and Lan Wang on their awards from CRWAD!

The University of Minnesota had two Student Award Winners at the 2023 Conference of Research Workers in Animal Diseases! Both students received Animal Health Institute/Joseph J. Garbarino Foundation Biosafety & Biosecurity Awards for their presentations at the conference.

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Meet our graduate students in swine health and production

Graduate students are at the core of our research efforts to deliver science-based solutions to solve the swine industry’s problems. You may be familiar with their names through scientific publications or you may have seen them present the results of their research at various conferences but they deserve a proper introduction. Meet our 2021-2022 graduate students!

Part of the UMN swine group at the AASV annual meeting in February 2022.
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The UMN swine fellowships continue to support students and industry-focused research

Three fellowships are available for graduate students focusing their research on practical solutions for the swine industry: the Morrison, Pijoan and PIC fellowships. Congratulations to this year’s new recipients! We look forward to hearing more from you at the upcoming Allen D. Leman Swine Conference on September 18-21.

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Graduate student spotlight: Dr. Alyssa Betlach

Recently, Dr. Alyssa Betlach was featured as a Farm Journal’s PORK’s Up & Coming Leaders. Betlach is currently pursuing her PhD with Dr. Maria Pieters on Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae while working as an associate swine veterinarian with Swine Vet Center in St. Peter, MN.  

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Congratulations to the recipients of the Morrison and Pijoan fellowships!

Please, join us in congratulating this year’s recipient of the Pijoan fellowship, Dr. Gustavo Lopez and our first recipient of the Morrison fellowship, Dr. Alyssa Betlach.

Pijoan fellow


Gustavo Lopez was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He obtained his DVM in 2010 from the Universidad Central de Venezuela and did two short internships at the University of Minnesota which influenced him into focusing to swine health and production.  Gustavo then moved to Russia to work for the largest meat production company. During his 6-year experience he performed different roles such as wean-to-finish production manager, head of genetic services and head of health services. Currently, Gustavo is pursuing a PhD under the guidance of Dr. Torremorell, focusing our research on swine influenza virus.

“I did not have the opportunity of meeting Dr. Pijoan, but i have seen the legacy he has left in the University of Minnesota swine group and the swine industry itself. For me it is an honor to be awarded this fellowship and i intend to live up to the name, by focusing my research towards finding solutions to economical important swine diseases.”

Morrison fellow


This year, as a part of the Morrison legacy initiative at the University of Minnesota, we created a fellowship for graduate students in honor of Dr. Bob Morrison.

Alyssa Betlach is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota and part-time associate veterinarian for Swine Vet Center. She is originally from Owatonna, MN where she first gained an interest in swine production and medicine while working on a 1,500 sow farm. Alyssa obtained her DVM from the University of Minnesota this spring, while concurrently pursuing graduate studies and a certificate in swine medicine. Her graduate thesis focuses on the characterization of M. hyopneumoniae in swine herds using molecular diagnostics and epidemiology under the guidance of Dr. Pieters.

“I am truly humbled and honored to receive the Morrison fellowship award. It was an absolute privilege to have known Dr. Morrison and to have received his mentorship throughout my veterinary education. I hope to continue Bob’s legacy through my collaboration with swine veterinarians, academia, and producers towards the development of science driven resources for swine health and production advancement. I am excited to expand my knowledge of the industry and to experience the opportunities made available by the fellowship. Thank you for selecting me as a recipient of this award and to those that have inspired me during my academic and professional endeavors.”

We are truly excited to have such talented graduate students pursuing high quality work to help solve the swine industry challenges!