Michel A. Wattiaux
Michel A. Wattiaux
Pronounced: "Me-shell" "Wa-tea-oh"
Professor, Dairy Systems Management
Office Phone: (608) 263-3493
Fax: (608) 263-9412
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of Dairy Science
266 Animal Sciences Building
1675 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1205
Current Appointment & Affiliations
- Director (interim), Dairy Systems Management, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), University of Wisconsin-Madison (since 2019).
- Professor, Dairy Systems Management, Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 70% Instruction – 30% Research (since 2011).
- Affiliate Faculty, The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison (since 2009).
- Professional Animal Scientist (PAS), American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS; since 2003).
- More on Professional Background ...
For many years Michel has conducted research within his disciplinary expertise (dairy cattle nutrition and environmental management of dairy systems on a global scale) as well as in teaching and learning in college classroom (and institutions of higher education). Below are links to his publications:
Honors and Awards
- 2021: Fellow of the American Dairy Science Association
- 2020: Spitzer Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Agricuture and Life Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- 2018: UW-Madison Teaching Academy Distinguished Fellow Award.
- 2017: Educator Award, North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA).
- 2017: Extra Mile Award, College of Agricuture and Life Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- 2012: Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin System (read announcement here).
- 2011: Excellence in International Activities Award, College of Agricuture and Life Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison (read brief documentation of International Accomplishments).
- 2010: UW-Madison Scholar of the Wisconsin Teaching Fellow & Scholar Program (WTFP), UW-System Office of Professional and Instructional Development, University of Wisconsin System.
- 2009: Food and Agricultural Sciences Excellence in College and University Teaching United States Department of Agriculture (read Michel's remarks).
- 2008: Jung Excellence in Teaching Award, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin Madison.
- 2008: Land'O'Lake - Purina Award for Outstanding Service and Guidance in Teaching Dairy Science, American Dairy Science Association (ADSA).
From a Family Farm in Belgium to a PhD in the United States ...
As a teenager, Michel was very involved in the daily work of the family dairy farm that his parents pioneered as they purchased land, build a house, built a barn and started milking cows in the late 1960s. After a five-year Agricultural Sciences degree at the University of Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium (1977-1982), Michel came to the United States as an IFYE (International Four-H Youth Exchange) and lived on farms in North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Wisconsin. In 1985, he returned to Wisconsin to earn a doctoral degree in Dairy Science (1990).
Ten years of International Dairy Extension ...
After completing post-doctoral research projects in ruminant nutrition, Michel began to work with the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin shortly after its inception in 1992. While at the Institute, Michel authored and co-authored four dairy management-related books in a series of Technical Dairy Guides and 35 Dairy Essentials. These publications are now available in seven languages (English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese and Turkish) and have been distributed in more than 80 countries around the world. Michel co-directed the Institute from April 1997 until May 2000. His responsibilities have taken him to Asia, Latin America, Africa and The Newly Independent States (former Soviet Union) to create educational and scientific opportunities in the growth and development of dairy industries around the world. During that period, Michel traveled to 23 countries and visited farms in 17 out of those 23 countries.
Six years of Tenure Track with Emphasis on Teaching ...
In 2000, Michel accepted a position as Assistant Professor in dairy systems management with the Dairy Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His teaching (70%) and research (30%) focuses on the improvement of dairy farm management in a way that fosters the social, economical and environmental soundness of production systems. Michel’s research in nitrogen excretion in dairy cattle and efficiency of nitrogen utilization on dairy farms has impacted directly the dairy industry in the U.S. and in other countries.
In regards to teaching, Michel revamped a senior level Ruminant Nutrition course and created four new courses within the first four years in his position: Pre-Capstone seminar (for freshmen and sophomores), Dairy Cattle Husbandry Practicum (for sophomores and juniors), Environmental Management of Livestock Operations (for seniors and graduate students), and Agriculture in Emerging Economies: Dairying in Mexico, which includes an end-of-summer, two-week, study abroad in Mexico.
Michel was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure on the basis of excellence in teaching and significant accomplishments in research in the spring of 2006.
Post-Tenure: Global-scale Research and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning ...
In 2007 Michel was the recipient of a US Department of State Fulbright for a sabbatical stay at the University of Laval Quebec, Canada and Universidad de Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Michel’s research program has focused on nutritional strategies that reduce the environmental impact of dairy production with an emphasis on undesirable gaseous emissions to the atmosphere known to have negative impacts on human heath and balance of natural ecosystems (ammonia) or to contribute to climate change (methane). This research seeks to create "win-win" situations, making farms more economically profitable (reducing feed costs) and more friendly to environmental and human health. Specifically, Dr. Wattiaux and his research collaborators have studies the effects of dietary composition on manure ammonia emission and enteric methane emission from dairy cattle. During these years, Michel started to commit himself to a global-scale research program. He received USDA International Science and Education (ISE) grants to foster collaboration with Mexican and Canadian partners to develop research tools to evaluate dairy agro-ecosystems sustainability.
Between 2006 and 2011, Michel’s continued to engage in the scholarship or teaching and learning (SOTL). His efforts to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the animal sciences have lead to book chapters, peer-reviewed publications, and numerous teaching-related abstracts. He has been invited to speak on teaching and learning on the UW-Madison campus, land grant universities across the United States, and at numerous national conferences. During this period, Michel and his collaborators competed successfully for funds from the USDA Higher education grant program. The impact of Dr. Wattiaux’s teaching program was exemplified by recurring requests to use courses resource materials that are available on-line. In addition to the courses described above, Michel created and taught a new original and creative course for UW-Madison PhD candidates from across the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines: Effective Teaching in Internationally Diverse Classrooms. This course challenges doctoral candidates to think of ways to take advantage of cultural and national diversity as an asset rather than an impediment to creating a rich learning environment for all students in the classroom.
Michel's meritorious scholarship in teaching and learning and international activities during this period of his career have been recognized by a series of honors and awards (see above). Michel was promoted to Full Professor in the spring of 2011.
Forging a Legacy ...
Since receiving the title of Full Professor, Michel's research and Instructional program have continued to grow. For example, in 2012 he was the project director of a USDA funded project titled: Teaching and Learning in the Animal Sciences: Challenging Old Assumptions and Break New Ground for the 21st Century, which was followed by teaching workshops at the joined national meetings of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and the American Society of Animal Sciences (ASAS) in 2013 and 2015. Michel continues to create new courses. In 2015 he collaborated with an organic specialist and a social scientist to offer a senior and graduate level course titled: Food systems, Sustainability and Climate Change. Furthermore he converted his "dairy in Mexico" program into a new more global set of coursed titled: Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development and Field Program in Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development. Michel' continued effort in Teaching was recognized in 2017 with the Educator Award of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA).
In 2014, Michel completed a sabbatical in Costa Rica (CATIE) to study the carbon foot print of milk production under the diverse pasture systems of central america. During this program, he mentored a Master's degree student in Tropical Agro-Forestry, who published his work in Agronomía Meso-Americana.
Staring in 2017 Michel has taken a broad multidisciplinary approach to his international research and education programs. He received a seed grant from the UW-Madison Global Health Institute to develop a multi sectorial approach to strengthening milk school programs in Ethiopia.
Since March 2019, Michel has served as interim Director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS). The Center was established in 1989 to address issues in sustainable agricultural and food systems using participatory action research methods, strong community engagement and interdisciplinary faculty collaboration.
Over the years, Michel has mentored numerous undergraduate research scholars, Master's degree, PhDs and post-doctoral trainees in Dairy Science as well as Masters in Agroecology.