Faculty Scholars

Faculty Scholar Susan Duckett, Ph.D. at  Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Susan Duckett, Ph.D.

Ernest L. Corley Jr. Trustees Endowed Chair
Department of Animal and Veterinary Science
Clemson University

Contact: 864-656-5151 or sducket@clemson.edu  

Who is Professor Duckett?

Susan Duckett is currently a Professor in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Clemson University where she holds The Ernest L. Corley, Jr. Trustees Endowed Chair position. She received her B.S. degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University. Susan’s research explores how specific fatty acids alter lipogenesis and insulin resistance and how environmental toxins impact fetal growth and muscle development.

How Professor Duckett's research is transforming health care

As an Animal Scientist, Susan can provide expertise on the use of farm-animal models for human health research. Her current research efforts are examining: 1) how palmitoleic acid regulates lipogenesis and insulin resistance in obese sheep models, and 2) how dopamine agonists (ergovaline or ergot alkaloids) impact fetal growth and muscle development in gestating sheep. Palmitoleic (C16:1 cis-9) acid is proposed to function as a lipokine that regulates lipogenesis and glucose/insulin metabolism. They found that palmitoleic acid reduced lipogenesis and stimulated lipolysis when added to primary adipocytes. Using obese animal models, palmitoleic acid infusion reduced intramuscular lipogenesis and restored insulin sensitivity. This research established the basis for the proposed research and highlighted the uniqueness of this monounsaturated fatty acid, palmitoleic acid, to regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in vivo and restore insulin sensitivity in obese sheep. Ergot alkaloids are naturally occurring mycotoxins produced by endophytic fungi, Neotyphodium). Their main perennial forage, tall fescue (Festuca arundinaceum), contains ergot alkaloids. The ergoline ring structure of ergot alkaloids are structurally similar to dopamine and bind to D2 dopamine receptors eliciting a second messenger response similar to that of dopamine. She has shown that exposure to ergot alkaloids during gestation results in a lower birth weight (-36%) and reduced secondary muscle fiber formation. Currently, she has a USDA-NIFA grant, Impact of Fescue Toxicosis on Fetal Development and Postnatal Growth, to further evaluate the effects of ergot alkaloids on fetal growth and myomiRNAs involved in reduced secondary muscle fiber development.

Health Research Expertise Keywords

Obesity, Type-2 Diabetes, Mycotoxins, Fetal Development, Dopamine Receptor Agonists, MyomiRNAs