Visiting scholar investigates bacteria in cows

Kuva blogiin LifI am a visiting scholar from the National Veterinary Institute at the Technical University of Denmark. I am visiting the Ruralia Institute in Seinäjoki in February, and I`m working with research director Timo Nieminen. My research is about the bacteria involved in giving dairy cows infection in the uterus after calving, which is a big problem in the dairy industry.

The uterus infections negatively affect the time it takes the cows become pregnant again after calving. The infections occur often in dairy cows, somewhere between 20-50% of dairy cows experience some form of infection in the uterus after calving, so the accumulated extra time it takes these cows to get pregnant again after calving amounts to a costly delay for the farmers. I am working with a DNA-based method of identifying the bacteria involved in these infections.

During my time in Seinäjoki, I have met several researches in the same or related research fields to share knowledge and discuss the importance of these infections in the Finnish dairy cows. Among others, I visited the Saari unit of the Helsinki University Department of Production Animal Medicine, and I have visited Evira, the local food safety authorities here in Seinäjoki. Both visits led to fruitful discussion. The well-being and disease status of dairy cows is important in rural areas with many dairy farmers. All of the researchers I have been in contact with during my stay have been very hospitable and helpful, and I am optimistic about a future collaboration. Together with Timo Nieminen, I am working on an application for funding so we can collaborate on more research in the field of disease-causing bacteria in production animals.

The Ruralia Institute in Seinäjoki is an inspiring place, a melting pot of scientists with different backgrounds. And the collaboration doesn’t stop in the Ruralia Institute; with an interrail ticket to the railway system, it is easy to meet with collaborators in different cities, and at the same time enjoying the view to the beautiful, snow-covered Finland.

The working environment at the Ruralia Institute is warm and friendly, and as a Dane, it is very interesting to discover similarities and differences in culture. My stay here has opened my eyes to how simple trans-disciplinary collaboration can be. This is something I shall definitely bring with me in my further work.

Lif Knudsen is a visiting scholar in University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute.

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