Reproductive Physiology with Dr. Ott

Posted: March 12, 2013

Arika sits down with Dr. Troy Ott to talk about his career, opportunities in reproductive physiology, and why it’s great to be a Nittany Lion!
Dr. Troy Ott

Dr. Troy Ott

The Animal Sciences major is full of opportunities and diverse areas of interest for every type of student. This semester I have the privilege of learning from a professor who not only wants you to learn the material in the classroom, but succeed once you leave Penn State and apply that knowledge.

Meet Dr. Troy Ott, professor and researcher of reproductive physiology. Dr. Ott and I talk about his career, opportunities in reproductive physiology, and why it’s great to be a Nittany Lion!


What is your role in the Department of Animal Science?

My role is 25% teaching and 75% research. Currently I have two main interests for research in the laboratory, estimated pregnancy and fertility regulation. My profession allows me to wear many hats and while I continue to conduct research and teach lectures, I am first and foremost here for the students. I have several advisees that I am a resource for throughout the year, to help them with their academic goals and guide them through their college career.

I know you’ve been to several universities throughout your career, but is there something that makes Penn State standout above the rest?

In comparison to the other universities where I’ve worked, we at Penn State invest the most in our students not only at the university level, but mainly in the College of Ag Sciences. In this college, we are known for working well with our students and take teaching the curriculum seriously. In many universities you hear that professors take on jobs just for the research, but we are more than just research. In my opinion, no other university comes close when it comes to taking time to interact with and help students.

What sparked your interest in reproductive physiology?

I too once walked this very campus as an Animal Sciences undergraduate several years ago. During my sophomore year, I realized while taking a reproduction course that I had an interest in reproductive physiology. Soon after this course, I sat down with my professor to discuss the possibility of working in the reproduction labs. I worked in the reproduction lab for three semesters. I was able to understand firsthand what graduate students did in the laboratory setting. I found the research fascinating. It was during this experience that I knew I wanted to have a career in reproductive physiology.

Is there anything new and exciting in the industry?

My primary focus is centered around dairy reproduction. Over several decades the dairy industry has undergone a decline in fertility rates. Over the last ten years, the industry has turned fertility rates around and we’re headed in the opposite direction. This is all due to better reproduction management through the innovations of new electronic aids. These technologies can detect natural estrus while hanging like a necklace on the cow. As the necklace hangs, it monitors the estrus levels using 3-D dimensions and detecting all movements the cow makes. Farmers and ranchers normally prefer breeding natural estrus over using synchronization programs.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part about my job is that every day is different and brings along its own challenges. I have always had a passion for what I do and find reproductive physiology interesting and important. My career of choice requires hard work and long hours, sometimes leaving me to continue my work at the kitchen table until late in the evening. Most importantly, I enjoy working with the students and helping them succeed in every aspect of their academic careers.

What can you do with a career in reproductive physiology?

There are many opportunities in the industry of reproduction. You can pursue work in artificial insemination or further your education after receiving your undergraduate degree and pursue a professor/research position at a college level. As there are many opportunities in animal science, those wanting a career in reproductive physiology can also pursue careers with pharmaceutical companies or women’s health organizations. The career choices are endless.


Do you have any advice for future students?

Yes. Don’t make my mistakes! Your first year sets the tone for the next three years of your academic career. Make going to class, taking notes, and studying in advance for exams a daily routine. It’s through these habits that you will take more away from your education. There is a balance that you have to maintain between the social aspect of college and academics. Work hard to achieve those good grades your first year so that you can enjoy the next three years with ease.

And finally, use your advisers! We are here to help, guide, and make figuring out your career goals a little simpler. I made the mistake of thinking that my adviser was too busy to meet with me and it wasn’t until later on that I realized that advisers will drop whatever they are doing to help their students. There is no greater reward than when I have successful advisees. Take advantage of every opportunity that you are given. When you participate in clubs and activities, take leadership roles and make key connections with other members. Make the next four years memories that will last a lifetime and network with your fellow colleague because those experiences in the end will define you as a person.