Smarsh receives Young Scientist Educator Award from Society of Animal Science

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Danielle Smarsh, assistant professor of equine science and equine extension specialist in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was honored by the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) for her work in teaching animal science to students and extension audiences.

Smarsh, the recipient of the Northeast Branch Young Scientist Educator Award, was one of two individuals recognized for their outstanding contributions to animal and dairy science. The winners were honored in a virtual ceremony during the ASAS Northeast Section/ADSA Northeast Branch 2021 Joint Meeting this month.

“I was honored, excited and pleasantly surprised to receive the Young Scientist Educator Award,” said Smarsh. “There are many great educators in the Northeast, so I’m sure it was tough competition.”

Danielle Smarsh, assistant professor of equine science and equine extension specialist. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

As the lead specialist for the Penn State Extension equine team, Smarsh manages a number of different extension programs for horse owners in Pennsylvania. She also conducts applied research aimed at looking for ways to improve the management and health of horses, particularly in the areas of exercise and nutrition.

Terry Etherton, former head of the Department of Animal Science, hired Smarsh in January 2018. He served as her mentor, providing perspectives and guidance about various aspects of her teaching, research and extension programs.

“Danielle has done a terrific job of developing equine extension programs at Penn State that have been very well received in the commonwealth, the mid-Atlantic region and nationally,” said Etherton. “Danielle and her colleagues on the Penn State Extension equine team have been remarkably innovative in using Facebook. This strategy has been an important conduit for marketing equine extension programs and delivering educational information to our stakeholders.”

Smarsh teaches several undergraduate courses at Penn State, including a freshman seminar course, an upper-level equine exercise physiology course and a study-abroad course focused on the international equine industry. For extension, she creates and shares presentations, articles and other products to educate people about horses.

“I strive to be an excellent educator, teaching undergraduates and graduate students at the University Park campus, while also teaching the public,” said Smarsh.

The American Society of Animal Science guidelines for the award are based on the candidate’s effectiveness and achievement in all areas related to animal production, including teaching, research, extension and responsibilities with national and regional society activities. Candidates for the award must be nominated by peers and apply with four letters of support, a curriculum vitae with a publications list, and a personal summary statement.

“The ASAS Young Scientist Educator Award shines a bright light on the accomplishments of Dr. Smarsh,” said Adele Turzillo, head of the Department of Animal Science. “It also highlights the collective efforts of our department and the college to provide world-class educational opportunities to our students and stakeholders.”

Burt Staniar, associate professor of equine science, teaches higher-level equine classes with Smarsh. Together they study how diet and exercise influence equine health and athletic performance.

“Dr. Smarsh brings an enthusiasm for what we do and success in accomplishing quality education and research that deserves to be recognized,” said Staniar. “It is clear that undergraduate research had an impact on her own career and that she strives to pass that experience on to the students with whom she works.”

Smarsh received her bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Delaware in 2008. She earned her doctorate in equine exercise physiology from Rutgers University in 2013. Before arriving at Penn State, she was an assistant professor of animal science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Smarsh's most recent publication examined how the national group, Extension Horses, of which Smarsh is a member, acted quickly to create online resources to assist the horse industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her work has been published in the Translational Animal Science Journal, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science and Journal of Animal Science. Her prior equine research focused on antioxidants and oxidative stress and the effects of age and training in Standardbreds.

More information on extension products created and offered by Smarsh and her equine team can be found here:

Last Updated April 10, 2021