Kimberly Davenport – integrating basic research with outreach & extension

Kimberly Davenport

Dr. Kimberly Davenport joined the department as an assistant professor in August 2023 following a nationwide search. She was hired as part of the WSU Functional Genomics Initiative, a multidisciplinary collaboration among the Department of Animal Sciences, the Center for Reproductive Biology, the School of Molecular Biosciences, the Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, and the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs. This initiative began in 2016 with an ultimate goal to use gene-editing technology to enhance livestock production and address social and ethical concerns associated with using this technology.


Davenport is a native of the Palouse, growing up just eight miles to the east of Pullman in Moscow, Idaho. She was interested in agriculture and animal science at an early age because of her experiences in 4-H and her love of horses.

“My grandfather lived on a farm in Weiser, Idaho,” Davenport said. “He traded a ton or two of alfalfa hay for my first pony when I was about 8 years old. The pony had never worn a bridle or saddle. We learned together!”

She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in animal science at the University of Idaho, graduating in 2021 with a PhD. She studied with Dr. Brenda Murdoch and her research focused on the assembly and functional annotation of genetic regulatory elements in the sheep genome. Subsequently, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri where she studied reproductive developmental biology in cattle under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Spencer.

“I really wanted to expand my knowledge in reproductive biology because I am especially interested in the integration of reproduction and genomics. I want to use genetics as a tool to better understand reproductive processes to help solve problems in livestock species,” she explained.

Roles at WSU

Davenport’s appointment at WSU is split between Extension and teaching. Her research program will be geared to uncovering genetic and epigenetic mechanisms governing economically important traits in livestock. She will translate this work to educate and equip producers with beneficial new technology and tools to improve sustainability and profitability of their operations.

“The cool thing about Extension is that I think I can really make a difference,” she said.


Dr. Davenport is currently working on a developing a general needs assessment and plans to use a combination of informal interviews at conferences and producer meetings. She will also use secondary data collected by the state of Washington to determine livestock producer’s knowledge, needs, and interests.

“Most livestock producers have not yet adopted genetic technologies,” Davenport said. “I want to educate them about the technology so they are prepared to adopt it when gene-editing methodology is readily available.”


Davenport took the teaching reins immediately upon arriving in Pullman, teaching Animal Genetics (ANIM SCI 330) in Fall 2023 semester. She will be teaching this undergraduate course each fall for the foreseeable future. She is also developing a new UCORE (WSU Common Requirements General Education program) class for spring 2025. The new course will focus on biotechnology, gene editing, and society and will be available to students from all majors. She will coordinate the course and capitalize on the wide variety of expertise across disciplines. Davenport’s overall goal for this course is to educate undergraduate students about gene editing so they are not afraid of it and can talk about it and the associated ethical and societal issues. She is also brainstorming the creation of a future graduate course.

To unwind, Davenport makes time to ride her horse at least three times a week.

“This is my escape, my therapy!”