In January 2019, the Department of Animal Science welcomed new faculty member Abhi Upadhyay. He returns to Storrs where he studied as a graduate student.
“It’s great to come back to UConn,” Upadhyay says. “I am really glad and privileged to be able to join the Department of Animal Science.”
Upadhyay will conduct research that aims to develop strategies for controlling foodborne pathogens, especially those associated with poultry. “I would like to establish a well-funded research program focusing on farm-to-fork food safety,” he says.
“As you know, the world population in 2050 will be close to ten billion, so as food scientists we have to develop novel strategies to produce safe and nutritious food in an efficient manner. Sustainability is going to be our key challenge.” In addition to his research commitment, he will be teaching Principles of Poultry Science (ANSC 2271) and is interested to develop new courses in food sustainability.
“Extension outreach is also a significant component of my work,” Upadhyay says. “An important aspect of my research is to be able to communicate new laboratory findings to farmers or stakeholders and test them in the field or industry setting.”
One of his current projects investigates the potential of metaproteomics to study effects of antibiotic alternatives on poultry gut microbiota function, health and productivity. In addition, he is investigating the effect of various antibiotic alternatives on the expression of virulence proteins, particularly those in Campylobacter jejuni.
“Very little is known about the effect of antibiotic alternatives on the expression of virulence proteins of this pathogen. If we can study the changes in the expression of these proteins and associated pathways, we can devise efficient mitigation strategies,” Upadhyay explains.
In his laboratory Upadhyay plans to involve both graduate and undergraduate students in his research. He says, “Graduate students are the backbone of any lab, while undergraduates provide strength to the research team. Working with chickens requires a lot of hands-on participation and team work, so a good mix of students works well. In February I will be accompanying several undergraduate students to the International Production and Processing Expo in Georgia, which will give me a chance to interact with undergraduates interested in poultry research”.
Upadhyay earned a bachelor of veterinary science and animal husbandry from the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research in Pondicherry, India; a master’s degree in veterinary microbiology from Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Bikaner, India; and a Ph.D. in food microbiology and safety from UConn. He then completed postdoctoral work at the University of Arkansas Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, where he worked in collaboration withthe USDA Agricultural Research Service Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit.
Upadhyay is enthusiastic about returning to the UConn campus. “I like Storrs because it is a quiet and suburban place where one can focus on work but if one wants a holiday, New York and Boston are close by.” Upadhyay’s wife and twenty-month-old daughter live in Tennessee; his wife is an assistant professor at Tennessee Tech University.
“I am glad there are direct flights from Boston to Nashville,” Upadhyay says lightheartedly. “We both realize that a career as an academic scientist is highly coveted, so we’re taking this with a positive mindset.”