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Dahlia O'Brien, Ph.D

Agriculture & Natural Resources


Associate Professor/Extension Specialist

Small Ruminants

Phone: 804.524.6963

Fax: 804.524.5714 (Virginia State University)


Dr. Dahlia O’Brien has served as Associate Professor and Small Ruminant Specialist in Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University (VSU) since 2013. Dr. O’Brien received her PhD from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in December of 2005. Prior to her position at Virginia State University, she served as Associate Professor and Small Ruminant Specialist at Delaware State University (DSU) for several years. In her position at DSU, Dr. O’Brien conducted research on a number of projects including the characterization of anthelmintic resistance in gastrointestinal nematodes of small ruminants in the Mid-Atlantic U.S., evaluation of natural/alternative dewormers (pumpkin seeds, ginger, garlic, papaya seeds and commercially available herbal wormers) in parasite control, determining the efficacy of goat browsing as a biological control for invasive weeds, and the use of natural breed resistance in reducing internal parasite infections in meat goats. At Virginia State University, Dr. O’Brien works collaboratively in providing needs based educational workshops and applied research for small ruminant producers locally and regionally. Her interests lies in low-input small ruminant production, increasing reproductive efficiency in small ruminants, natural/novel means of parasite control, and assisting producers in determining on-farm parasite resistance to chemical drugs. Dr. O’Brien is also working on a USDA Capacity Building Program funded project to design and build a mobile slaughter processing unit (MSPU) at VSU to educate and enhance profitability of Virginia’s small ruminant industry.



* University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), Biology, B.S., 1999

* University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Food and Agricultural Science (Small Ruminant Reproduction), M.S., 2002

* University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Food Science (Lamb Production and Meat Quality), Ph.D., 2005




Virginia State University, College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension

* Associate Professor/Extension Specialist-Small Ruminant (Nov, 2013 – present)


Delaware State University, College of Agriculture and Related Science, Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Cooperative Extension

* Associate Professor/Extension Specialist-Small Ruminants (Aug, 2012 – Nov, 2013)

Delaware State University, College of Agriculture and Related Science, Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Cooperative Extension

* Assistant Professor/Extension Specialist-Small Ruminants (Feb, 2007 - Aug, 2012)




* American Association of Animal Science

* International Goat Association

* Small Ruminant Production in the Southeastern U.S. Coordinating Committee

* American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control

* National Goat Conference Committee




* Delaware State University Faculty Excellence award for University/Community Service, May 2011

* Graduate student Kwame Matthews was awarded first place at the Delaware State University First Annual Graduate Research Symposium poster competition, DSU, April 2011

* Graduate student Jenna Warren was awarded 2nd place at the 16th Biennial Association of Research Directors Symposium, Atlanta GA, April 2011

* Graduate student Elizabeth Crook was awarded third place oral presentation at the American Association of Animal Science National Meetings: Graduate Student Paper Competition-ADSA-ASAS Northeast Section, July 2009

* B.D. Mayberry Young Scientist of the Year. March, 2009

* Delaware State University Cooperative Extension Employee of the Year. October, 2008.

* University of Delaware Director’s Spirit Award, October, 2008



* Virginia's Own Mobile Slaughter/Processing Unit: Promoting Food Safety Education and Small Ruminant Meat Marketing. (2015; P.I., USDA/NIFA Capacity Building Grant, $249,582)

* Delaware State University Mobile Meat Processing Lab (MMPL) Curriculum Development and Implementation. $250,000. Co-PI

* Establishment of a Mobile Meat Processing Lab (MMPL) at Delaware State University. Co-PI. Capacity Building Grant. 2011. $150,000.

* Delaware State University Borlaug Fellowship Program Asia. Co-PI. 2010. Funded $28,949.80

* Genetics to Control Parasites in Goats and Establishment of a Small Ruminant Parasitology Resource in Delaware. Funded $199,628.93. 2009. PI. Capacity Building Grant. Extension.

* Delaware State University Borlaug Fellows 2009. PI. Extended funding for 4 additional fellows for $98,886.04. USDA/USAID on February, 2009.

* Delaware State University Borlaug Fellows 2008. PI. Funded $50,872.10– USDA/USAID on April, 2008.

* ADVANCE at Delaware State University (Co-PI). NSF. Funded $200,000. August 2008 – August 2009

* Efficacy of Natural Dewormers in the Control of Gastrointestinal Nematodes (GINs) of Small Ruminants. PI. Awarded Spring 2008, $166,168

* Characterization of Anthelmintic Resistance in Small Ruminant Gastrointestinal Nematodes (GIN) in the Mid-Atlantic States. PI. Awarded June 2007, $374,671.




* K.K. Matthews, D.J. O’Brien, N.C. Whitley, J.M. Burke, J.E. Miller, R.A. Barczewski. 2016. Investigation of possible pumpkin seeds and ginger effects on gastrointestinal nematode infection indicators in meat goat kids and lambs. Small Rum. Res. Vol 136: 1-6

* D.J. Jackson-O’Brien. Advancements in Goat Reproductive Technology. 2010. Proceedings of the National Goat Conference. Florida A&M University. P 112.

* N.C. Whitley, J.E. Miller, J.M. Burke, D. Cazac, D.J. O’Brien, L. Dykes and J.P. Muir. 2009. Effect of high tannin grain sorghum on gastrointestinal parasite fecal egg counts in goats. Small Ruminant Research Volume 87, Issues 1-3.

* N. C. Whitley, D. Cazac, B. J. Rude, D. Jackson-O’Brien and S. Parveen. 2008. Use of a commercial probiotics supplement in meat goats. J Anim Sci published online Oct 10, 2008.

* Whitley, N.C, E. L. Walker, S. A. Harley, D. H. Keisler and D.J. Jackson. 2005. Correlation between blood and milk serum leptin in goats and growth of their offspring. J. Anim Sci. 83: 1854-1859.

* Jackson D. J., C.M. Fletcher, D.H. Keisler, and N. C. Whitley. 2005. Effect of melengestrol acetate (MGA) treatment or temporary kid removal on reproductive efficiency in meat goats. Sm. Rum. Res, 66 (1-3): 253-257.

* D.J. Jackson, B.J. Rude, K. K. Karanja and N.C. Whitley. 2005. Utilization of Poultry litter pellets in meat goat diets. Sm. Rum. Res, 66 (1-3): 278-281.

* Whitley, N.C. and D. J. Jackson. 2004. An update on estrus synchronization in goats: a minor species. J. Anim. Sci. 82: E270-276E (Proceedings).


In Review


  • N.C. Whitley, D.J. O’Brien, and R. Subburathinam. 2016. Influence of urocortin on luteinizing hormone release from porcine pituitary cells in primary cell culture. Submitted to Research in Veterinary Science. (Corresponding Author)
  • T. J. Nartea, S. Wildeus, L. Jung and D.J. O’Brien. 2016. Breed and supplementation influence on consumer ratings of pasture-raised ground lamb. Submitted to Journal of Extension.




* Integrated Parasite Management Workshop (including FAMACHA Certification and Fecal Egg Counting) – MAY/JUNE 2016 in Suffolk County, VA

* Integrated Parasite Management Workshop (including FAMACHA Certification and Fecal Egg Counting) – JUNE/JULY 2016 at Randolph Farm

* Pasture Lambing Workshop (including lecture and hands-on activities) – July 2016 at Randolph Farm

* Small Ruminant Field Day – September 16, 2016 at Randolph Farm Pavilion

* Goat AI Clinic – October, 2016 at Randolph Farm