Whether it is a sporting event, a major construction project or the steps toward one’s career goals, momentum is important. As I recently reflected on my predecessor’s last message to you, it was clear that Dr. Bill Lamberson had set forth a strong forward momentum in the Division of Animal Sciences. Now, nearly five months into my tenure as Director, the momentum is apparent.
Before I bring you the Divisional update, I think it appropriate to “introduce” myself to our alumni and friends. As a Missouri native, Mizzou alum (Animal Sciences 1995) and a 15-year faculty member in Animal Sciences, it seems like many of you probably already know me. However, many of you may not have interacted with me in any meaningful way. By training I am a meat scientist, and in that capacity, I served as state Extension specialist in meats while maintaining an applied research program in fresh meat quality. I also taught several courses related to food animal production and processing. My family, friends and colleagues would likely tell you that I am “living my best life” when interacting with people. My energy is derived from human interaction and, more specifically, when I am teaching. I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Division of Animal Sciences and look forward to interacting with as many of you as possible in this role.
The division continues to maintain very strong metrics in all three aspects of the land-grant mission. Our Extension faculty have found unique and useful ways to deliver industry-relevant content in many areas regarding the business of food-animal production. The pandemic may have slowed the face-to-face interactions, but the flow of information continued in earnest. Our Animal Health and Production group in Extension is now co-led by Dr. Tim Safranski, education director, and Dr. Cory Bromfield, assistant director. Outreach continues to be a priority for our Extension faculty, and they welcome inquiries to help your agricultural business thrive.
Our research faculty continue to lead nationwide with regard to funding, publications and discovery. I recently commented to someone that the excellence of this faculty is rivaled in very few places, if anywhere at all. During our new student welcome in August, I stated to our students that we are committed to giving them access to world-renowned scientists and technology. This faculty has shown an incredible resilience in securing funding for solving some of the greatest challenges that face society with regard to human health, animal health and the daunting task of providing food for an ever-increasing population.
The division recently received $3 million from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (via the CARES ACT) to tackle the challenges of workforce development in the meat processing industry. To this end, we have been able to reinvest in and retool our Mizzou Meat Market, design and build mobile trailers for delivering workforce training in meats and hire a director, Dr. Tylan Peckman, to lead the effort in the state and beyond. Future stories will summarize this program as it grows to serve Missourians in developing and attracting a strong workforce in food production.
While the forward momentum is strong, we do have challenges. The return to normal from an unprecedented pandemic has challenged our resolve. Supply chain issues slow economic progress, social differences polarize society and these challenges press us to find new and unique ways to support our fellow humans. I am committed to leading in a way that is faculty-and-student-centric while contributing to the greater good of this storied institution. Please connect with me if there is anything I can do in my capacity as director and as a fellow alum to support your journey. Our stripes are strong.
Director, Division of Animal Sciences