Campus and Community

Reinventing Agriculture

Mississippi State University

Animals in a Different Light

From detecting diseases in valuable livestock to helping shelter animals, two Mississippi State University (MSU) programs provide a window into the use of technology and public outreach to illuminate animal health and advancements.

MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is at the forefront of technology development for imaging applications in large animals, specifically livestock. One of the most exciting developments is the use of infrared thermal imaging to monitor surface temperature gradients on animals, creating a colorful temperature map that allows for clinical monitoring. Digital infrared thermal imaging can reveal a wide range of disease, developmental, and injury-related conditions in humans, plants, and valuable livestock.

MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine is also tackling the problem of pet overpopulation. Every eight seconds, an animal is euthanized in the United States, and billions of tax dollars are spent annually to shelter unwanted pets. Through the Mobile Shelter Medicine Program, veterinary students (supervised by faculty) provide free spay and neuter services to animal shelters. The program decreases the number of unwanted animals and helps shelters facilitate adoptions, while also providing valuable learning opportunities.

At the festival, visitors learned more about these two programs by viewing thermal imaging in animals, seeing themselves on “the big screen” in a thermal imaging color palette, trying hands-on activities with thermal imaging cameras, milking Maggie the dairy cow, viewing the mobile veterinary clinic, and talking with veterinary students about pet overpopulation issues.

Dr. Scott Willard, Mississippi State University

Dr. Scott Willard, Mississippi State University

Mississippi State University is a leader in the use of technology and public outreach to illuminate advancements in animal health.

At the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Scott Willard and a team from MSU offered visitors the chance to milk a model cow and learn how thermal imaging can be used to pinpoint disease in livestock.

Videography by Becky Squire, Ashlee Duncan, and Kelsey Michael. Editing by Aurélie Beatley.

click to enlarge and view captions

click to enlarge and view captions