CAHFS Spotlight: Julie Adamchick

Julie at a university dairy farm at a veterinary school in Colombia where she worked for a summer, with Julie the cow, named after her!

Our monthly series of CAHFS Spotlights highlights our residents, graduate students, faculty, and staff. This month we're spotlighting a PhD student in the CAHFS Data Analysis Research Team, Dr. Julie Adamchick.

What is your current field of study? I'm a PhD student in the department of Veterinary Population Medicine VPM, started August 2017.

How did you end up at the U of M? I’ve always been interested in livestock, food production, and livelihoods. I grew up on a dairy farm, studied Animal Science and International Ag & Rural Development in undergrad at Cornell. I then went to vet school, also at Cornell, because I saw it as a tangible and practical skill set that could be applied in that animal/food/people system. I worked as a managing veterinarian on a large commercial dairy for 3 years. Now I came to grad school at the U because I wanted to be better equipped and positioned to work with the systems and structures that impact the decisions made by farms and about livestock. 

What are you most passionate about professionally?  I’m interested in not just uncovering new knowledge but also learning how to get things done with what we do know, particularly regarding food security, safety, and equity. By understanding the nuance of complex and tightly coupled systems, and by working in close partnership with farms, farmers, and food production systems.

I love learning more about how the world works, which invariably is coupled with realizing how little I or any of us really know. It’s a rush. Part of what I’ve come to relish in grad school is all the different ways we use stories and models and languages to make sense of the things we see and communicate it to others. They’re all inadequate and chock full of limitations, but the only way forward is by honestly acknowledging those weaknesses and doing the best we can. That duality between determination and candid humility gets me.

I am also particularly smitten with ruminants and their owners. (And their food products for that matter.)

What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend? Playing soccer with my husband or backpacking with our dog.

Where did you grow up and why are you not there now? I grew up in upstate NY on a 120-cow dairy farm 7 miles outside of the one-stoplight town of St. Johnsville. I moved for different opportunities.

What is your dream job (besides the one you have!)? Plan B = raise beef cows somewhere with rolling hills and a stiff breeze. Still figuring out Plan A ;) 

Learn more about the CAHFS Data Analysis Research Team