SDSU Extension Welcomes New Dairy Field Specialist

South Dakota State Extension

Patricia Villamediana recently joined SDSU Extension as an Extension Dairy Field Specialist based out of the Watertown Regional Center. Villamediana comes to South Dakota State University with a doctorate in veterinary sciences from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain.

Patricia Villamediana

Villamediana's primary focus will be on assisting dairy producers in South Dakota by providing them with strong regional and state-wide leadership in developing and disseminating research-based programming and resources.  

“I think that returning to work on dairy farms is the most exciting part of being here at SDSU as an Extension Dairy Field Specialist,” Villamediana said. “I come from a dairy farm family, so it is like I’m returning to my origins.”

The goal of Villamediana’s Extension program is to enhance dairy producers’ sustainability in South Dakota and to strengthen rural economies by improving agricultural profitability and growth of the dairy industry. She will also focus on improving the reproductive efficiency of dairy cattle by applying knowledge gained through scientific research to develop practical management strategies and distribute that information throughout the state.

“Working in Extension is a challenge, but I’m feeling very excited about my new job,” said Villamediana. 

Villamediana was raised in the state of Zulia in Venezuela where her family has a dairy farm at the south end of Maracaibo’s Lake and where part of her family continues to farm today. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Zulia, Villamediana completed a master’s degree and a doctorate focusing on reproductive biology, particularly in vitro embryo production of prepubertal female ruminants in the Department of Animal Production and Pathology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain. 

In 2000, Villamediana became an assistant professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Zulia and was promoted to a full professor in 2014. There, her work included teaching genetics and the biology of reproduction, research in bovine in vitro embryo production, cryopreservation of bovine oocyte and embryos produced in vitro and Extension duties. 

In 2018, she moved to the U.S. to work in the Department of Animal, Veterinary, and Food Science in the College of Agriculture at the University of Idaho where she supported research in different areas including lactation physiology focusing on mitochondria bioenergetics and heat stress, muscle physiology and genomics in sheep and bovine.

Villamediana’s previous Extension activities in Venezuela included management of health and reproductive herd programs with the andrology service at the University of Zulia, which offered a deep andrology evaluation from motility/vitality to evaluation of in vitro sperm capacitation and DNA fragmentation. Additionally, she trained technicians on assessment, classification, and transportation of oocytes and wrote chapters and edited books for producers in the area of animal biotechnology including food safety and bioethics, among others.