AMSA’s 2016 Achievement Award honors Bridget Wasser, Dr. Betsy Booren and Dr. Steve Larsen
The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) has announced that three young AMSA members are the recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award. The award was established in 1992 and is designed to recognize and foster the development of young AMSA members who have demonstrated significant scientific skills in muscle foods research and technology that contribute to the animal products industry and the AMSA. The award is sponsored by Burke Corporation. Wasser, Booren and Larsen will be honored at a special awards banquet at the AMSA 69th Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 in San Angelo, Texas.
Bridget Wasser is the Executive Director, Meat Science and Technology for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Bridged earned her B.S. and MS. degrees in Animal Science form Texas A&M University in 2001 and 2005 respectively. While completing her master’s degree, Bridget managed the meat science research laboratory where she was responsible for a number of key research projects, for developing and managing research grants, and for writing and publishing research reports and articles. Wasser started with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 2005, first serving as the Associate Director, Product Enhancement Research before she was promoted to Director in 2008. In 2011, Wasser was promoted to Senior Director, Meat Science & Technology and in late 2013 she was promoted to Executive Director, Meat Science & Technology.
Wasser has full responsibility for planning, development and implementation of all checkoff beef quality research programs, development and implementation of all checkoff beef quality research programs and technical meat science activities intended to increase consumer demand for beef and beef products. In addition, Bridget is responsible for providing strategic program direction, developing Authorization Requests and request for proposals, selecting and managing research projects, managing program budgets and disseminating research results and providing technical expertise across checkoff/NCBA and State Beef Council programs. Without her tireless work, many of the new beef value cuts would not be found as widespread as they are today in the nation’s retail stores and restaurants. Bridget has been a key contributor to making change in the beef industry happen at such a rapid pace.
“Her intelligence and skill allow her to lead others and contribute intellectually to projects, research direction and initiatives. Bridget is really multi-talented. Consequently, she has had a positive impact on the meat industry. Research projects are better focused and better suited to provide industry-relevant results because of her input,” remarked Chris Calkins, Ph.D., University of Nebraska.
Dr. Betsy Booren is the Vice President, Scientific Affairs, of the North American Meat Institute. She attended Michigan State University receiving her bachelor’s degree in Food Science in 1999. She then worked as a research assistant under the direction of Dr. Roger Mandigo at the University of Nebraska, receiving her master’s degree in Animal Science in 2002. Betsy attended Texas A&M University where she pursued her doctorate degree in Food Science and Technology under the supervision of Dr. Rhonda Miller. Following graduation Dr. Booren joined the American Meat Institute as its Director of Scientific Affairs for both AMI and the AMI foundation from 2009-2012. Dr. Booren was then appointed as the Vice President, Scientific Affairs for both AMI/AMIF from 2013-2014. After the merger of the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association to form the North American Meat Institute, Dr. Booren became the NAMI Vice President, Scientific Affairs as well as the President of the NAMI Foundation in 2015 and currently holds these positions today.
“Dr. Booren has demonstrated early on, innovation and aggressive leadership, which has resulted in a successful track record of accomplishments and promises greater contributions to the meat industry in the years to come,” stated Wesley Osburn, Ph.D., Texas A&M University.
In her role as Vice President of Scientific Affairs, Dr. Booren represents and provides informed analysis for the majority of the U.S. beef, pork, lamb, veal and poultry packers and processors on a variety of issues including food safety, food defense, diet and health, nutrition, animal health, biotechnology, food quality, food processing, research priorities, new technologies and public health alternatives. As President of the North American Meat Institute Foundation in Washington, D.C. Dr. Booren assists with the management of the NAMI Foundation Research Advisory Committee including developing industry research priorities on food safety, diet and health, managing committee review and prioritization. Dr. Booren currently sits on the USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection.
Dr. Steve Larsen is the Vice President of Science and Technology at the National Pork Board. Steve earned his B.S. in Animal Science and M.S. in Meat Science degrees from Iowa State University in 1998 and 2000 respectively and completed a Ph.D. in Veterinary Microbiology with a minor in business administration in 2004 at Iowa State University. During his time as a Ph.D. student, Dr. Larsen worked for the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, where he designed and implemented experiments on infections diseases in swine, with a particular emphasis on Salmonella. After earning his Ph.D., Larsen accepted a senior food technologist position at Tyson Foods, Inc. In 2006, he left Tyson to assume the position of the Director of Pork Safety at the National Pork Board (NPB). He was recently promoted to Vice President of Science and Technology at National Pork Board.
In his role at the National Pork Board, Dr. Larsen provides oversight to, and leadership for, the organization’s Pork Safety Quality, and Human Nutrition Committee and technical working groups, as well as delivering vital and relevant information to producers, veterinarians and consumers. In this capacity, Dr. Larsen represents more than 70,000 pork producers at various industry, government and academic engagements. He frequently educates producers on matters including biosecurity, withdrawal times, the Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus program, and research pertaining to market safe and nutritious pork. Dr. Larsen is a member of more than 25 meat, food, governmental and agriculture organizations and working groups.
Dr. Steve Larsen was nominated by Betsy Booren, Ph.D. with the North American Meat Institute who stated, “Dr. Larsen is viewed as a collaborator always willing to be at the table when problems need to be solved, and more importantly he brings solutions to the discussion. He is an invaluable asset to our industry.”
These AMSA members are exemplary young scholars and their dedications to the industry make them outstanding candidates for the AMSA Distinguished Achievement Award.