Dr Michael Cressman: Past, present, and future!

Back in May 2011, we profiled Mr Michael Cressman, one of our then PhD students, from CRC participant The Ohio State University (OSU) in the USA. Michael lived in Armidale for a year while undertaking his PhD, and worked with Professor Steve Walkden-Brown at the University of New England. Dr Cressman is now an Assistant Professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at OSU.

We caught up with Michael to recount his journey, and the possibilities out there for young poultry scientists. “After leaving Armidale in May 2012, I presented a poster of some of my on-farm bird performance and welfare data at the World Poultry Congress in Salvador, Brazil in August.  In July 2013, I presented a seminar covering on-farm bird performance, welfare, and litter quality data at the Poultry Science Association in San Diego, California.  From May 2012 to December 2013, I analysed the Illumina sequencing results of all the litter and gastrointestinal samples collected from my trials in Australia, and completed my PhD dissertation”.

Michael summarised his findings, saying that “far and away, the bacteria in the bird gut had a more profound impact on the bacteria in the litter than the other way around, and the birds on reused litter outperformed birds reared on single-batch litter with comparable welfare assessments”. He presented these findings (relating to bird performance and welfare, as well as the characterisation of the litter and gastrointestinal microbiomes) back in Australia at the 2014 PIX on the Gold Coast.  After returning to take up a six-month contract with the Animal Sciences department at OSU, Michael spent the summer of 2014 with his family, enjoying “cutting firewood, mending fences, planting vegetables, etc”.

From September 2014 Michael took up his current position, Assistant Professor – Professional Track (non-tenure), in the department of animal sciences at OSU.  “I have a dual background, in both poultry science and meat science, so that is exactly what I teach”. Michael is currently teaching:

  • Introduction to Poultry Science and Evaluation (Co-instructor)
  • Poultry and Avian Management (Co-instructor)
  • Introductory Meat Science (Instructor)
  • Food Animal Processing (Co-instructor)
  • Bar-B-Que Science (Co-instructor) – “YES…we have a class on barbecuing!!!”
  • Appreciation of Companion and Production Animals (Co-instructor)
  • Animal Growth and Development (Co-instructor).

Michael added, “In addition to teaching/co-teaching these courses, I advise the undergraduate Poultry Science Club, Meat Science Club, and Poultry Judging Team.  I also supervise a small, department-owned poultry house in Columbus for poultry primarily used for teaching purposes”.

“So, currently, I’m just trying to keep up with all of my new responsibilities”, Michael concluded. “I’d love to get involved in some new research, especially with a focus in poultry welfare and consumer education. We’ll likely offer some BBQing workshops to the general public this summer, as a bit of extension with the local community.  And if you didn’t hear, Ohio State’s gridiron football team won the collegiate national championship game on Jan 12th, so everyone here is pretty excited”.

Dr Michael Cressman’s journey to date stands as a shining example of what can be achieved in poultry science. From student to Assistant Professor in such a relatively short period of time is an outstanding achievement for which Michael can thank his hard work and diligence.

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