Keri Gardner; Research Assistant

Valberg Lab

Keri is a licensed veterinary technician, as well as a certified laboratory technologist (AALAS). She received her Master’s Degree in the Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology program at Michigan State University. She oversees the Neuromuscular Diagnostic and Research Laboratory and performs a variety of techniques including tissue processing, immunohistochemistry, biochemical analyses, fluorescent microscopy, Western blotting, and others.



Deborah Velez-Irizarry; Research Associate

Deborah Velez Irizarry3

Deborah Velez-Irizarry is working at NMDL as a research associate. Originally from Puerto Rico, Deborah obtained her BS and MS in Animal Science. Her PhD was earned from Michigan State University, where she researched quantitative methods to map expression QTL and allele-specific expression. Currently, her research focuses on elucidating critical pathways limiting glycogen repletion and performance in horses through the integration of proteomics and transcriptomics analysis. She has future research interests in the study of cis and trans-regulatory elements, influencing phenotypic variation and disease through the use of multi-omic data integration.


The Valberg lab is fueled by enthusiastic and talented undergraduate, veterinary students and graduate students that work on specific projects during the school year and during the summers. Our goal is to inspire students to develop a lifelong appreciation for, and love of research, and to further the careers of hard working students. A positive team-based experience is a strong focus of our research environment.

Kennedy Aldrich; Graduate Student

Kennedy Chelsea

Kennedy is from Chelsea, Michigan (home of Jiffy Baking Mix and Jeff Daniels!). She grew up on a hobby farm, where she has owned horses, llamas, goats, cattle, chickens, hogs, cats, and dogs. She graduated from Grand Valley State University, majoring in Biology. She has worked in small animal emergency hospitals for five years and is currently a DVM/PhD graduate student with primary interests in horses and large animals. Her research focus is on clarifying the pathophysiology of recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER) in Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses, and she hopes to find a career where she can balance her interests in clinical medicine and research. She enjoys drawing, music, running, jigsaw puzzles, and working with her three horses.

Zoë Williams; Graduate Student

Zoe Williams

Zoë Williams has a degree in Cell Biology from the University of California, Davis and is interested in equine neuromuscular disorders and their comparative diseases in humans and other species. She is a DVM/PhD graduate student investigating the characteristics, etiology, and possible treatments of Myofibrillar Myopathy (MFM) in Warmblood horses. MFM is a disease characterized by myofibril disorganization in muscle, leading to weakness and dysfunction. She is a multidisciplinary equestrian with two horses of her own and enjoys volunteering at community outreach events and playing oboe, flute, piccolo, and saxophone.

Marisa Henry; Undergraduate Student

Marisa 4

Marisa Henry is an MSU senior graduating in May 2019. She is from the northern part of Connecticut, a small town named Ellington. She came to Michigan State University to study Animal Science with a concentration in Pre-Veterinary Medicine, and chose MSU for it’s equine-related classes offered at the Horse Training and Research Center. Her interests are anything horse-related, whether it be nutrition, physiology, genetics, or reproduction. In the future, she would like to own and operate an equine rehabilitation center. She has worked as an undergraduate at NMDL since 2016, and will begin her Master’s degree in the Fall of 2019. She will continue her research in Equine Immune Mediated Myositis (IMM) with a pilot trial for a new supplement, and Equine Myofibrillar Myopathy (MFM) with a nutrition trial related to oxidative capacity.

Melissa Schott; Undergraduate Student


Melissa Schott is a junior in the Lyman Briggs College majoring in Genetics and working on her pre-medicine requirements. After graduation, she plans on attending medical school to eventually work in the field of clinical genetics. Currently, she works at NMDL doing protein extractions for proteomic analysis, RNA extractions for transcriptomic analysis, and mRNA quantification of specific genes using RTqPCR. She has developed many technical laboratory skills and basic data analysis, which will all be great tools for her future. In addition to her studies and laboratory work, Melissa enjoys being part of the MSU Equine Dressage Team.

Keely Herrick; Undergraduate Student


Keely Herrick is an undergraduate student from Leslie, Michigan. She is majoring in Animal Science with a concentration in Pre-veterinary Medicine. She has volunteered with the Equestria Horse Rescue & Sanctuary, and her main interests include any subject related to animals. In the future, she hopes to attend MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and work at a small animal veterinary clinic.

Hailey Iglewski; Undergraduate Student

Hailey Iglewski

Hailey Iglewski is a sophomore from Brighton, Michigan, and is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. She grew up showing Morgan horses and volunteering at an animal hospital. Hailey previously has worked in the Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center and plays for the Michigan State University polo club. In the future, she hopes to have a career in animal-related research.


Amy Porter at the Investigative Histopathology Laboratory at Michigan State University.

Dr. Jon Patterson Michigan State University

Dr. Carrie Finno, University of California, Davis

Dr. Jessica Petersen, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Dr. Juergen Konzak, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis