For more than a hundred years, the College of Agriculture at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) has provided high educational standards for students. In 1993, the organizational structure of the College and its departments was changed to suit student needs. This led to a change of its name to College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources. Although agriculture has always been an important part of the college, the meat science program was dormant since 2006 after Dr. Tom Ringkob, the meat science program leader, retired from his assigned college duties.
Nevada’s agriculture production has a significant impact on the state. Meat animals represent 37% of all commodities and play a crucial role in the state’s economic system. Therefore, a meat science program was an essential pre-requisite for the sole state land-grant university. In 2015, after an 11-year hiatus, the college established an important agricultural education milestone by re-creating a meat science program that would also focus on food safety.
The new meat and food safety program will bring a different industry perspective to undergraduate students who choose careers related to meat production. The new undergraduate meat and food safety course approaches real life industry experiences and USDA regulations. Students will also learn about animal welfare, international standards such as BRC, and will enjoy activities related to product development. The major goal of the course is to prepare the student to be successful when entering into a manufacturing environment. The course will provide to students tools and expertise to overcome daily operation challenges and events that will require knowledge about current government regulations.
In order to develop teaching activities, the program will count with the main experiment station located close to the main campus. The main experiment station houses feedlot facilities, cattle working areas, and an USDA inspected meat-processing plant. In addition, it also operates commercially, giving to students an opportunity to combine technical and economical learning opportunity.
The program has also a brand new meat quality laboratory that serves as core for all research activities. In addition, three more laboratories located in adjacent buildings are used to conduct sensory, biochemical, and microbiological analysis.
“Our research program is very broad. I believe that my extensive background and the availability of many collaborators in our university allow us to develop projects that approach the meat production chain as a whole. At the same time we are developing a new beef cut in our quality lab, we are also running an experiment that will test the efficiency of a novel food safety intervention for ground beef.” Says Dr. Amilton de Mello, meat science and food safety program leader for UNR.
Forming exceptional graduate students is also a priority in the program. The main objective is to expose them to high-level applied research in a safe and comfortable environment.
“The resources from the school are great. Faculty is very helpful and professional. Dr. de Mello follows the open door policy and is always available to guide us trough new procedures and protocols. The great thing is that all three projects I am working on have direct applicability for the meat industry” Says Yenling Yeh, graduate student.
University of Nevada-Reno is a member of the American Meat Science Association. For more information about University of Nevada-Reno and its faculty, please visit the AMSA website at http://www.meatscience.org/students/graduate-programs/university-of-nevada-reno.