Maria L. Peterson

  • Assistant Professor
  • Animal/Veterinary Science
  • Phone: 401.595.7814
  • Email:
  • Office Location: Woodward Hall


Dr. Peterson’s research focuses on understanding how different factors that a mother is exposed to during pregnancy can have long term effects on the offspring. Some of these factors include maternal nutrition, exposure to disease during pregnancy, as well as stress. Her primary focus is understanding how maternal programming alters the growth, development, and function of the pancreas tissue in the offspring.

Some of her current research projects include determining how DNA methylation patterns are affected in the pancreas tissue of the offspring as a result of poor maternal nutrition during gestation. She is also working to determine how and if these changes in DNA methylation are maintained into adulthood and across multiple generations.

Additionally, she is conducting research to determine how maternal parasite burden during pregnancy can affect the offspring using sheep as a model; evaluating how high maternal milk production and mastitis can affect calf health and growth; and understanding how pigs are predominantly raised in the northeast and determining the optimal way to feed pastured sows/gilts during pregnancy. Techniques utilized in her lab include molecular techniques such as next generation sequencing, RT-PCR, ELISAs and histological analyses.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Connecticut, 2017
  • Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 2014
  • M.S., University of Connecticut, 2011
  • B.S., University of Rhode Island, 2009

Selected Publications

Hoffman, M.L, M.C. Wynn, S.M. Pillai, A.K. Jones, K.K. McFadden, S.A Reed, S.A. Zinn SA, and K.E. Govoni. 2019. Poor maternal nutrition during gestation causes islet hypertrophy and alters pancreas DNA methylation patterns in fetuses from restricted and over-fed ewes. Manuscript in Preparation.

Hoffman, M.L., S.A. Reed, S.M. Pillai, A.K. Jones, K.K. McFadden, S.A. Zinn, and K.E. Govoni. 2017. Physiology and Endocrinology Symposia: The effects of poor maternal nutrition during gestation on offspring postnatal growth and metabolism. J. Anim. Sci. 95(5):2222-2232. doi: 10.2527/jas.2016.1229.

Hoffman, M.L., K.N. Peck, J.L. Wegrzyn, S.A. Reed, S.A. Zinn, K.E. Govoni. 2016. Poor maternal nutrition during gestation alters the expression of genes involved in muscle development and metabolism in lambs. J. Anim. Sci. 94(7): 3093-9. doi:10.2527/jas.2016-0570.

Hoffman, M.L., K. N. Peck, M. E. Forella, A. R. Fox, K. E. Govoni, and S. A. Zinn. 2016. The effects of poor maternal nutrition during gestation on postnatal growth and development of lambs. J Anim Sci. 94(2): 789-799. doi:10.2527/jas.2015-9933

Hoffman, M. L., M. A. Rokosa, S. A. Zinn, T. A. Hoagland, and K. E. Govoni. 2014b. Poor maternal nutrition during gestation in sheep reduces circulating concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-I and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 in offspring. Domest. Anim. Endocrinol. 49: 39-48. doi: 10.1016/j.domaniend.2014.05.002

Hoffman, M. L., K.K. McFadden, T. A. Hoagland, G. W. Kazmer, and K. E. Govoni. 2014a. Short communication: Expression of T-box (TBX) 2 and 3 in the bovine mammary gland. J Dairy Sci. 97(7):4322-8. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-7771.