Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

  • Animal Science
  • Health + Nutrition
  • Animals
Nathalie Trottier, professor, Department of Animal Science
Nathalie Trottier standing and holding a baby pig
Nathalie Trottier, professor, Department of Animal Science. Photo provided

Academic focus:

My primary responsibility and focus at Cornell is teaching in the area of animal nutrition. This fall semester, I am teaching a new course on nutrition of felids and canids (cats and dogs), and in spring of 2021, I will be offering a new course of comparative nutrition of horses and pigs.  

I hope to design a course for fall 2021 on the sustainability of animal production from a welfare, economic and environmental perspective with the input of leading experts in those fields.  I am also overseeing new specializations within the master of professional studies program in the Department of Animal Science, including animal health and animal nutrition.

Research summary:

My research focuses on understanding how proteins are utilized by animals for productive functions.  My goal has been to design nutritional strategies aimed at improving the efficiency of nitrogen (protein) retention to mitigate the impact of animal nutrition on the environment.  My work utilizes different approaches, both ex vivo at the cellular and molecular level, and in vivo at the whole animal level — including arteriovenous and metabolic nutrient balance studies. 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I love running, and I run on a regular basis with my 14-year-old daughter who is attending Lansing High School and on their cross country team.  I discovered many beautiful areas to run around our house and nearby, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  I also enjoy hiking with my children and husband, spending time with our horses, chickens, cats, budgies and Beatrice, our Saint-Bernard — soon to be 12 years of age. 

I used to ride our horses but have not had the time do so since we moved to the area this summer, but I hope to resume riding next spring.  I am also avid at winter sports, including downhill skiing, hockey and snow shoeing.  I grew up in Quebec, Canada and cherish these activities. 

What are your current outreach/extension projects?

I do not have an extension appointment, but I enjoy providing recommendations to horse owners about nutrition of their horses.

What are three adjectives people might use to describe you?

Lively, social, caring

What brought you to Cornell CALS?

I was excited at the chance to join the Department of Animal Science and to take on a major teaching appointment and lead the master of professional studies in animal science.  This was a unique chance to reorient my career at a perfect time of my life in a leading institution. 

What do you think is important for people to understand about your field?

There are many misconceptions about the animal feed industry, especially with regard to how production animals are fed and the nutrients that go into pet food. I think it’s important for people to learn how to spot misinformation on the Internet and to trust the animal nutrition experts who work in the industry.

Why did you feel inspired to pursue a career in this field?

I have always enjoyed working with farm animals, and I worked as an undergraduate research assistant while at McGill University majoring in agronomy.  I worked with poultry and pigs, and decided to pursue graduate school to eventually land a career in research.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about Cornell and/or Ithaca so far?

It has been very difficult to be somewhat isolated due to the pandemic.  So far though, what has been amazing is the kindness of people around the area and the warm welcome and support from the Department of Animal Science. 

If you had unlimited grant funding, what major problem in your field would you want to solve?

The cause of dilated cardiac myopathy in dogs fed diets marketed as “grain-free” and the dietary requirements of amino acids for horses to mitigate the over supplementation and feeding of proteins in the horse industry.

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