The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) has announced the three AMSA members who will be the recipients of the Distinguished Achievement Award. Carrie Garner, Dr. Jerrad Legako, and Dr. Ranjith Ramanathan will be honored on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at a special awards banquet during the AMSA 72nd Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) in Loveland, CO. The Achievement 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 contributing to the animal products industry and the AMSA. The award is sponsored by Burke Corporation.

Carrie Garner
Carrie M. Garner was born and raised in Enid, OK. She received her BS degree in Food Science from Oklahoma State University in 2010. After graduation, Garner was accepted to complete her MS in Meat Science under the direction of Dr. John Unruh at Kansas State University where she worked on several research projects but her main research focus was on Color Stability and Sensory Properties of Premium Ground Beef.

To fulfill her passion of contributing to the meat industry by developing new products, Garner accepted a position as a Food Scientist at Tyson Foods in 2012. In this role, her primary responsibility was developing new products across all proteins for Food Service Distribution, with her main emphasis being on K-12 customers for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. She has become a go-to team member within the company concerning Child Nutrition (CN) and Commodity products. Garner was promoted to a Sr. Food Scientist in 2018 where she continues her role with Food Service Distribution now also supporting several Commercial Chain customers providing them with individual R&D resources. During her career at Tyson Foods, Garner has developed and preformed quality improvement on numerous products and through her cost optimization efforts has saved Tyson over $650,000. Furthermore, over the last year, Garner started the innovation effort to help develop an original process to run a unique Food Service product that is currently being filed for a patent.

To continue her professional development, she completed her Certified Culinary Scientist certification in 2016 and is a current member of the Research Chefs Association and Northwest Arkansas Chapter Committee where she helps plans regional networking, community service and educational events.

Garner has been actively involved in AMSA since joining in 2008. She was a member of the Student Board of Directors as the Midwest Region Director in 2010 and President in 2011. She has also been very involved with several committees including the Quiz Bowl, RMC Abstract, and Undergraduate Achievement Award and has served as chairs for these committee for the 2015, 2017, and 2018 RMCs, respectfully. She has also served on the RMC planning committee since 2010.

Dr. Jerrad Legako
Dr. Jerrad Legako is an assistant professor in the Animal and Food Sciences Department at Texas Tech University. Dr. Legako’s research and teaching specialization is in the area of meat science, and his research program primarily focuses upon pre- and post-harvest factors which influence beef quality. Dr. Legako’s program is differentiated from others based on his usage of analytical chemistry to explore beef flavor character and beef flavor development. Some of the specific factors being explored in Dr. Legako’s research group include how animal diet, management, genetics, post-mortem aging, packaging, and cooking influence beef flavor.

Thus far in his academic career, Dr. Legako has served as an investigator on research projects totaling over $3.1 million. Results from these research efforts have been presented in 34 peer-reviewed journal articles, 82 refereed abstracts, 8 proceedings papers, 1 invited white paper, and 1 co-authored book chapter. Dr. Legako has also been invited to speak for a number of academic, extension, and industry audiences.

Dr. Legako was a faculty member at Utah State University for three years (2013-2016) prior to his current position at Texas Tech. During his time as a faculty member Dr. Legako has been charged with instructing courses, such as Experimental Techniques in Meat Chemistry and Muscle Biology, Food Analysis, Food Chemistry, and Meat Technology and Processing. Legako has mentored six graduate students through successful defenses as their major-advisor and three graduate students as co-advisor.

Currently, Legako serves as the major advisor for two Ph.D. students and co-advisor for one Ph.D. student. Outside of his own students, Legako has served as a graduate committee member for 17 graduate students. In addition to graduate students, Dr. Legako has mentored 18 undergraduate students working within his research group. Dr. Legako previously advised the Utah State University Meat Quiz Bowl Team and currently serves as the advisor for the Texas Tech University Academic Quadrathlon team.

Dr. Ranjith Ramanathan
Dr. Ranjith Ramanathan is an Associate Professor of Meat Science in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Ram received his Ph.D. and MS degrees in Animal Science from the University of Connecticut in 2012. He earned his Bachelor of Veterinary and Animal Science in 2004 from Kerala Agricultural University, India.

Since 2012, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Ram’s research focuses on both fundamental and applied factors that influence fresh meat quality; more specifically on postmortem biochemistry and meat color. Dr. Ram has secured a total of $1.6 million as a PI and Co-PI from federal agencies, commodity groups, and industry. In addition, he has published 57 peer-reviewed journal articles, 101-refereed abstracts, 3-book chapters, and 5 full-paper conference proceedings. Dr. Ram has served on 48 graduate student committees as a chair or as a committee member. Dr. Ram has been an active member of the American Meat Science Association since joining in 2006.

Recently he received the prestigious 2018 USDA New Teacher Award from the Association of Public Land Grant Universities, 2018 North American College Teachers Association Educator Award, 2018 Southern Section American Society of Animal Science Outstanding Young Animal Scientist Award, 2017 Southern Section American Society of Animal Science Outstanding Young Educator Award, and several university and college awards.  Ram is married to Anjana and together they have three children. Dr. Ram lives with his family in Stillwater.

These AMSA members are exemplary young scholars, and their dedications to the industry make them outstanding candidates for the AMSA Distinguished Achievement Award.

Source: AMSA