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Meat, muscle biologist joins Animal and Food Sciences faculty

image image Jessica Starkey has been named an assistant professor of meat and muscle biology in Texas Tech University’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences, according to officials with the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. She began her teaching and research duties on Jan. 1.

A cell and developmental biologist by training, Starkey’s research at Texas Tech will focus on how nutrition, stress, and disease affect the molecular regulation of pre- and postnatal skeletal muscle growth and development of livestock.

Further Understanding. “Our research group will conduct research in economically important meat-animal species, as well as transgenic mice to further our understanding of the molecular interactions that control skeletal muscle growth and development,” she said.

Noting the potential implications of her research beyond the agricultural sciences, Starkey said “increasing our understanding of how muscle biology is affected by nutrition and stress could also have positive implications in the treatment of devastating human myopathies such as age-related sarcopenia and muscular dystrophies.” Sarcopenia is characterized first by a decrease in the size of the muscle, which causes weakness and frailty.

Developmental Biology. Prior to joining Texas Tech, Starkey was a graduate research and teaching assistant in the University of Connecticut Department of Molecular and Cell Biology in Storrs, Conn., and had served previously as a research project assistant at The Pennsylvania State University Department of Poultry Science, and the Kansas State University Growth and Development Laboratory Manager in Manhattan, Kan.

A native of Kansas, Starkey grew up on a commercial beef cattle ranching and farming operation in northwestern Kansas and was active in 4-H and FFA throughout her youth. She received her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and industry with an emphasis on business and her master’s degree in animal sciences and industry from Kansas State University. Her doctorate in cell and developmental biology is from the University of Connecticut.

Scholarship & Research. In addition to numerous national and regional conferences, Starkey has published her scholarship and research in the Journal of Animal Science and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. She is a member of the American Society of Animal Science, the American Meat Science Association, and Gamma Sigma Delta, the Honor Society of Agriculture.

Written by Sean Cleveland

CONTACT: Jessica Starkey, assistant professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2805, ext. 260 or


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