Students are back in class! That brings excitement and energy to campus and the Animal Sciences Center. With expected growth in student numbers, we have added sections of our introductory course, Biology of Animal Production. The lecture for one of the sections is taught in the Trowbridge sales arena, made possible with the recent investments in upgrading that facility.
Two new faculty members join our program as assistant professors this semester. Sofia Ortega will teach reproductive physiology and reproductive management and conduct research in beef cattle reproduction. Sofia earned her Ph.D. at the University of Florida and has been a post-doc with us for the past two years. Susanta Behura will teach functional genomics and conduct research in computational biology and bioinformatics. Susanta has been a research assistant professor with us for the past three years and was previously a faculty member at Notre Dame. Along with the new, we have changes at the other end of careers. Dave Patterson is retiring after 24 years of service in beef reproduction research and extension. We are fortunate that Dave will continue to serve part-time leading development of the National Center for Applied Reproduction and Genomics.
We are very pleased to announce, as an investment in the future of our students, that we have hired Tawnie Dejong to lead our livestock evaluation program. Tawnie grew up on a ranch in western South Dakota and has a B.S. from South Dakota State University. She is working on her M.S. at Michigan State University. She has been very successful as Assistant Coach of the Michigan State Livestock Judging Team and is serving as Acting Head Coach at MSU this semester. Tawnie’s academic training is a combination of genomics and the scholarship of teaching. Tawnie will be joining our program in August 2020, upon completion of her M.S. Thank you to judging team alums and all who have provided more than $50,000 this year in support for our livestock evaluation program!
There have been exciting developments in research over the past few months. Tom Spencer was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a scientist. The National Academy of Sciences was established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Kevin Wells and colleagues were awarded a grant of $8 million by the National Institutes of Health to establish a center for gene editing in swine. Along with our existing NIH National Swine Research and Resource Center led by Randy Prather, the new center cements Mizzou’s leadership in this field.
Finally, we are pleased that Animal Sciences alumna Kristy Weber, MD, will be speaker for the December 2019 CAFNR Commencement. Kristy is the first woman elected President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It will be great to have Kristy back for this celebration of our students. We hope to see you there. As always, we are proud of our programs and eager to show them to you. If you are near Columbia, stop by the Animal Sciences Center. If you can’t see us in person, drop us a note. We look forward to visiting with you.
Director, Division of Animal Sciences