CAFNR welcomes new faculty

Introducing CAFNR's new faculty members for the fall 2023 semester

With the fall semester in full swing, we are excited to introduce the new faculty members in our college. The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri is proud to introduce 14 new faculty members this semester, and their contributions will enhance our research, teaching and extension missions. Each of them brings a depth of expertise in their individual fields, representing five of our six divisions:

A brown-skinned man with a shaved head stands with his arms crossed in front of him. He is wearing a maroon sweater vest and maroon and white long-sleeved button-up shirt and has a short beard and mustache.
Jaime Barros-Rios
Assistant Professor, Division of Plant Science & Technology

Jaime Barros-Rios is an assistant professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology. His research interests encompass various aspects of plant biology, including plant biochemistry, metabolic and genetic engineering, biotechnology for crop enhancement, plant responses to environmental factors and biofuels.

Prior to joining CAFNR, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Missouri’s Division of Plant Science and Technology where he completed the Preparing Future Faculty – Faculty Diversity (PFFFD) Program. He previously served as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of North Texas, where he taught lab-based courses and received recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2019 when he received the Center for Bioenergy Innovation Early Career Award. His work contributes to advancing understanding of plant biology and its potential applications in agriculture and bioenergy.

Barros-Rios earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Vigo in Spain. He also holds a master’s degree in biostatistics from the same institution. Barros-Rios can be reached at

Mandy Bish
Mandy Bish
Assistant Professor and State Extension Plant Pathologist, Division of Plant Science & Technology

Mandy Bish was hired as an assistant professor and state extension plant pathologist within the Division of Plant Science and Technology. Bish also serves as the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coordinator and is the director of SCN Diagnostics.

Bish has a long-standing history in the division. Most recently, she served as an extension specialist where she assisted with field research to address weed management concerns throughout the state and mentored undergraduate students. Her current research focuses mostly on sustainable management of pathogens that cause disease in common row crops.

Bish earned her Ph.D. in cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in plant pathology at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in the Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit of USDA-ARS.

Bish has guest lectured courses at Mizzou and chaired the award committee for the Weed Science Society of America. She is also a member of several professional societies, including the American Phytopathological Society and the North Central Division of the American Phytopathological Society.

Bish can be reached at

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Jamie Courter
State Extension Beef Genetics Specialist, Division of Animal Sciences

Jamie Courter joins the Division of Animal Sciences as the MU Extension state beef genetics specialist. She previously worked for NEOGEN Genomics as the technical services manager and beef product manager where she provided training to the sales team on product development and core animal breeding and genomic principles to help beef producers better understand the implementation and benefits of genomic technology and illustrating return on investment for producers.

Courter earned her Ph.D. in Animal Breeding and Genetics from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she worked to better quantify docility for genetic evaluations. Her academic background and professional experience align to help her make a difference in advancing genomics and animal breeding technologies in the agricultural industry. Courter can be reached at

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Lesleighan Cravens
Assistant Teaching Professor, Division of Plant Science & Technology

Lesleighan Cravens was promoted to assistant teaching professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology. She has been a floral design instructor in CAFNR since 2013, where she teaches courses such as Everyday Floral Design and Retail Floral Management. Each of the courses she teaches is also offered online to reach more students. She was the 2021 recipient of CAFNR’s Golden Apple Award – given to awardees who go above and beyond in teaching and/or advising.

She serves as the advisor for the Student Chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers, as well as the shop supervisor for Tiger Garden. In addition to her teaching roles, Cravens is a member of the CAFNR International Agriculture Committee and also serves on the Floriculture Core Committee for the National FFA Organization.

Cravens holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Missouri, and she has earned professional qualifications as a Certified Floral Judge and Evaluator from the American Institute of Floral Designers. Cravens can be reached at

white man with short light brown hair, wearing a maroon quarter-zip shirtZachary Leasor
Assistant Professor and State Climatologist, School of Natural Resources

Zachary Leasor joins the college as an assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources. He serves as the state climate extension specialist, as well as the director of the Missouri Climate Center. His responsibilities include overseeing extension operations for the Missouri Climate Center and the Missouri Mesonet. He also works on enhancing existing research and extension programs, fostering collaborations with other Mizzou research centers and external partners.

Leasor’s scope of research specializes in areas of hydroclimatology, soil moisture monitoring, land-atmosphere interactions, drought monitoring, seasonal forecasting and water resources.

Previously Leasor worked as a postdoctoral scholar from 2021-23 on a National Science Foundation-funded project, where he conducted climate data analysis for monitoring and predicting droughts, contributing to improved climate resilience efforts.

He earned his Ph.D. in Geography from The Ohio State University. Leasor can be reached at

Marc Libault
Professor, Division of Plant Science & Technology

Marc Libault joins CAFNR as a professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology through the MizzouForward program. He is also a member of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group on campus.

Previously, Libault worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he was an associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. He also served as the director of the Single-Cell Genomics Core Facility. During his postdoctoral years, he worked at Mizzou in the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology.

Libault earned his Ph.D. in Molecular and Plant Physiology from Paris-Saclay University in France.

Libault’s research focuses on understanding the activity of crop genes inside each cell of the plant and the associated regulatory mechanisms. The information from this research supports and allows for the implantation of well-sounded genetic engineering strategies that will enhance crop biology, and improve yields and nutritional quality.

Libault can be reached at

Stephanie McKay
Associate Professor, Division of Animal Sciences

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Stephanie McKay joins CAFNR as an associate professor in the Division of Animal Sciences through the MizzouForward program.

McKay’s research utilizes the latest advances in biotechnology while developing new methodologies and resources to determine the extent to which epigenetic and epitranscriptomic modifications contribute towards economically important traits in livestock, specifically 5-Methylcytosine, 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine and N6-Methyladenosine.

Before coming to Mizzou, McKay worked at the University of Vermont in the Department of Animal Science and Veterinary Sciences as an assistant, then associate professor, respectively. During her time as a postdoctoral fellow, McKay was at Mizzou in the Division of Animal Sciences.

McKay earned her Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Alberta in Canada.

She holds membership in the International Society of Animal Genetics and the American Association of Animal Science, as well as serves as an editorial board member of Genes.

McKay can be reached at 

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Jasmine Neupane
Assistant Professor, Division of Plant Science & Technology

Jasmine Neupane joins the Division of Plant Science & Technology as an assistant professor in agricultural systems technology. In this role, she will teach courses in the Agricultural Systems Technology degree program and Precision Agriculture Certificate Program that focuses on novel technologies in agriculture.

Her research focuses on the application of digital agriculture technologies, including precision agriculture, robotic machinery, sensor technologies, big data, and artificial intelligence to different elements of crop production.

Before coming to CAFNR, Neupane was an assistant research professor of precision agriculture at Montana State University where she focused on site-specific agricultural input management using remote and proximal sensors. She also served as the advisor to the Nepali Student Society.

Neupane earned her Ph.D. in Plant and Soil Sciences from Texas Tech University.

She holds membership in several professional societies, including the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America, the Crop Science Society of America, and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Neupane can be reached at

Amy Petry
Amy Petry
Assistant Professor, Division of Animal Sciences

Amy Petry is an assistant professor in the Division of Animal Sciences, where she leads a Monogastric Nutrition Research Lab. Here, her research is largely centered around enhancing utilization of dietary fiber in swine diets and investigating the non-nutritive aspects of dietary ingredients and their influence on nutrition and health. Additionally, she works collaboratively within MU to create nutritional biomedical pig models. Through her research, Petry aims to improve the health, sustainability and production of swine through implementing basic and innovative science to develop, advance or improve applied nutrition solutions.

Previously, Petry was an assistant professor of nutritional physiology at Texas Tech University. Her role involved a balanced mix of responsibilities, with a primary research appointment. In her young career, she has secured substantial research grants from federal sources and industry, totaling almost a million dollars, and published over 50 research articles, reports, abstracts and book chapters.

Petry earned her Ph.D. with honors from Iowa State University in 2020, specializing in Animal Science with a focus on swine nutrition. Petry can be reached at

Andre Froes de Borja Reis
Andre Reis
Assistant Professor, Division of Plant Science & Technology

Andre Reis is an assistant professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology, as well as the state extension specialist in soybean agronomy.

His research and extension program includes developing management strategies to minimize biotic and abiotic stresses, crop nutrition, predicting genetic by environment interactions, seed compositional quality, and crop modeling. He is also responsible for the University of Missouri soybean variety testing program that focuses on identifying successful combinations of commercially available varieties of soybean, corn, wheat, and sorghum with the production environments of Missouri.

Reis earned his Ph.D. in Crop Science from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Before joining CAFNR, Reis was an assistant professor at Louisiana State University where he studied soybean drought stress management and the cold tolerance of sugar cane and nutrient interactions.

Reis can be reached at

Adauto Rocha
Assistant Extension Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Adauto Rocha Jr.Adauto Rocha joined the Division of Applied Social Sciences as an assistant extension professor in agricultural economics. His work focuses on developing an extension and applied research program that centers around livestock economics and natural resources management.

Rocha holds two doctoral degrees: one in applied economics from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, and the second in agricultural economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Prior to coming to Mizzou, Rocha worked as an economic analyst, providing guidance to the Brazilian Ministry of Information and Technology and the World Bank Group. He also was an advising professor for the master in business administration course of the Continuous Education Program in Economics and Business Management at the University of São Paulo.

Rocha can be reached at

Kelsey Rushing
Assistant Teaching Professor, Division of Food, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences

Kelsey Rushing

Kelsey Rushing joins the Division of Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences as an assistant teaching professor and director of the accelerated coordinated master’s program in dietetics. In this position, she will develop courses and mentor graduate and undergraduate students in nutrition and healthcare programs.

Rushing earned her Ph.D. at the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) where her research focused on the prevention and treatment of sports-related concussions and chronic diseases, such as obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), using nutrition-based interventions. Rushing is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and holds a master’s degree in nutrition sciences from UAB with a concentration in clinical nutrition. While in Birmingham, Rushing also worked as a performance dietitian with UAB Athletics, where she found her passion for educating and working with college students.

Rushing can be reached at

Dojin Ryu
Professor and Director, Division of Food, Nutrition & Exercise Sciences

Dojin Ryu joins CAFNR as a professor and division director for Food, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (FNES). Ryu is also the chair of the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in the School of Medicine.

Previously he served a dual role at the University of Idaho and Washington State University at the Bi-State School of Food Science. Here he balanced teaching and research, focusing on chemical food safety and food safety education. He expanded enrollment in Introduction to Food Science through innovative teaching methods and creating the Food Mycology lecture and lab courses. He established inclusive communication with faculty and staff to build a cohesive unit.

Ryu’s research focuses on development of food safety education programs for at-risk/hard-to-reach populations including the Deaf and hard of hearing, and environmental factors affecting diabetes and its management.

Ryu earned his Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and holds a master’s in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Missouri.

Ryu also holds notable positions as a Science Board member for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and serves as a Scientific Editor in the Toxicology section of the Journal of Food Science. Ryu can be reached at

Juo-Han Tsay
Assistant Extension Professor, Division of Applied Social Sciences

Juo-Han Tsay

Juo-Han Tsay joined CAFNR as an assistant extension professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences. She has been working in the division as a postdoctoral fellow in the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) since 2022.

In her current position, she supports agricultural producers around the state through work on rental management and policy analysis that will improve on-farm profitability.

Tsay earned her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where her research looked at decision making as it relates to agricultural policy, crop insurance elections and other risk management factors.

Tsay specializes in applying quantitative analysis to build a researched-based extension program that will enhance the profitability and decision-making efforts of agricultural producers.

Tsay can be reached at