Research Profile - Dr. Kim Vonnahme
“We want to be good stewards of agriculture. We want to create healthier livestock and reproductive performance in the uterus, to generate a better life.”
Name: Kim Vonnahme
Department: Animal Sciences
Campus Location: Hultz 181
Kim Vonnahme was born and raised on a grain and livestock farm in west central Iowa. She studied animal science as an undergraduate and transferred to Oklahoma State University where she obtained a Master's degree doing research on early embryonic development in pigs. She completed a PhD at the University of Wyoming, studying factors that affect litter size. In 2003, she came to NDSU to do post-doctoral work on placental vascularity in a cow's placenta, and in 2004, joined the NDSU Animal Sciences Department as an assistant professor. She is married to Michael Kangas and they have two pre-school age children, Katie and Joey.
The goal of Vonnahme’s research program is to establish healthy pregnancies in livestock, which helps the offspring grow to their utmost potential. The overall concept is to study developmental programming in gestation. Vonnahme is trying to determine how to get nutritional supplements to the placenta, so that the embryos will survive. The long-term objective of Vonnahme’s project is to use different management practices for the offspring to help them survive under stress conditions, such as drought conditions which impact forage quality. Research has been conducted with hogs, sheep, beef and dairy.
Why it Matters
The research is seeking to determine the factors that will help livestock placenta flourish. These studies have shown that ewes and beef cattle respond to stressors quite differently, leading to the need for different nutrient requirements. This information, provided to farmers and ranchers, will help them keep their livestock populations thriving.
Currently, six graduate students and two undergraduate students contribute to various parts of the project, including vascular function work, whole animal-uterine blood flow studies, and maternal nutrition in sheep. Vonnahme also teaches a class in animal physiology and reproduction and an independent study course in animal reproduction.
Searching for Questions
Vonnahme believes that one of the greatest rewards of research is getting students excited about future research projects. Having students take responsibility, and make it into their own project, helps them develop new questions, which leads into new experiments. Even after a project is 'completed', new questions arise that keep us searching for answers and more questions.
Kimberly A Vonnahme
North Dakota State University
Department of Animal Sciences
Phone: 701- 231-5883