Second Annual ‘Connecting with U- Animal Science Showcase’ is a Success

This spring the Department of Animal Science hosted its annual ‘Connecting with U – Animal Science Showcase’ and hosted over 100 people at the event. This was the second year that the department hosted the event which highlights the research and accomplishments of the department’s students, faculty, and alumni. The Cargill Building on the St. Paul Campus was the site of the event.

The event featured 18 posters highlighting the research and labs of the department and 5 posters featuring student organizations and judging teams. A networking hour and lunch was provided with food catered by the Department of Animal Science’s Meat Lab. After lunch, the department held programming to share the highlights and successes of the year and to honor the winners of the ‘Golden Alumni’ awards. The awards were presented to Dr. Bruce Behrends and Dr. Bradley Johnson.

Dr. Bruce Behrends was presented with the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Industry. Bruce received his bachelors and both of his advanced degrees in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota under Dr. Paul Waibel. During his time as a student here, Bruce was known for his expertise in poultry and his strong mentoring abilities with his fellow graduate students. Bruce started his career in 1979 when he was hired by Bob Sparboe of Sparboe farms. Over the course of 25 years, Bruce helped to grow Sparboe farms from 300,000 layer hens to 13 million hens and expanded their AGRI-TECH nutrition service and premix business from 3-4 major customers to 30-40 customers across 25 different states. His impacts reached beyond the poultry industry as well. Bruce developed a system of ‘toll’ feed mills that supported nutrition while saving on feed costs, and the system has been widely adapted by the pork industry in the Midwest. He identified growing consumer trends, and has been instrumental in helping establish cage free and organic operations throughout the state. Bruce’s reach is international as well. He is highly regarded by the Japanese egg industry, and has fostered meaningful and important relationships between Japanese egg producers and Sparboe. Throughout his career Bruce served on and volunteered with a number of organizations to share his expertise and talents including the Minnesota Nutrition Conference, Poultry Science Journal, 4H, Litchfield Library Board, and the Department of Animal Science.

Dr. Bradley Johnson was presented with the Golden Alumni Award – Achievement in Academia. Brad received both his masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota, Department of Animal Science under Dr. Jay Meiske and Dr. Bill Dayton. After completing his degree, Brad went on to serve as Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University and later as Associate Professor at Kansas State University. He currently serves as a Professor and Gordon W. Davis Regents Chair in Meat Science and Muscle Biology at Texas Tech University. Throughout his career, Brad has demonstrated a consistent and strong record as a scientist. Brad is a nationally and internationally recognized authority in animal growth and muscle biology, with notable applied and basic research contributions in the area of growth-enhancing technologies. As a researcher, he has amassed an impressive record that includes 11 book chapters and invited reviews, 87 peer reviewed scientific journal articles and 187 abstracts. Brad has been sought worldwide in issues related to meat and muscle biology, and has worked with the feedlot industry from Indonesia to South Korea to Brazil. Throughout all of this, he has continued to mentor and teach our next generation of scientists and has advised 70 graduate students and post-doctoral scientists, and taught 14 university courses so far in his career.

The day following the showcase, the department hosted seminars given by Drs. Behrends and Johnson for Animal Science faculty, students, and staff to attend. The Golden Alumni winners presented on their time at the Department of Animal Science, their career paths, and the research they are currently conducting. Both seminars were well attended, and provided an opportunity for graduate students and faculty to connect with Drs. Behrends and Johnson.