The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) announces that Dr. John Forrest has been named the 2020 AMSA R.C. Pollock Award winner. The R.C. Pollock Award is presented annually in honor of the first general manager of the National Live Stock and Meat Board. This award is sponsored by the AMSA Development Council R.C. Pollock, Robert Bray, and Vern Cahill Mentor Recognition Funds. All the organization’s awards were presented virtually at the recent ICoMST/Reciprocal Meat Conference, held August 3-6.

Raised on a farm in Larned, Kansas, Dr. John Forrest began his education with a B.S. and M.S. from Kansas State University in 1960 and 1962 respectively, and a Ph. D. from University of Wisconsin in 1966. After a short stint at the University of Minnesota, Forrest joined the faculty at Purdue University in 1967 and served there until his retirement in 2002.

Forrest had teaching, research, and extension responsibilities at Purdue. His research involved fresh meat quality, electronic methods for determination of carcass composition, product-based price discovery systems for pork and beef carcasses, and processing techniques to reduce fat in meat products while maintaining palatability. Forrest was a visionary researcher. His research led to the development and scientific testing of electronic meat/carcass grading systems. These systems provided a rapid, non-bias means for carcass procurement that paid the producer for the delivery of lean muscle and allowed for the formation of a standardized price reporting system that is still in use today. Forrest also laid the groundwork for the vision grading systems that are used by most major beef plants. His research was years ahead of its time and has had lasting contributions.

Forrest has been recognized by many professional organizations for his contributions including the American Meat Science Association's Signal Service Award (1998) and Distinguished Extension - Industry Service Award (1983), American Society of Animal Science's Meat Research Award (1997), Indiana Farm Bureau's Hovde Award of Excellence in Educational Service to Rural People of Indiana (1994), and USDA's Distinguished Service Award for Scientific Research (1992). He is the co-author of the undergraduate textbook, Principles of Meat Science, (Kendall/Hunt Publishing), has over 85 research publications, and has given 30 invited lectures in Germany, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and China.

It was, however, the students that made John Forrest tick. He took personal joy and satisfaction in seeing students he had instructed, mentored, and nurtured go on to make significant differences in the meat and food industry around the world. He introduced meat science courses to over 2700 undergraduates and served as the major professor for 16 graduate students including those from five foreign countries. He traveled with and taught a Spring Break Animal Industry Travel course to various regions of the United States. Forrest developed and led an "Exploring International Animal Agriculture" course that took students abroad to China and Poland. He also personally hosted many international study abroad students.

Dr. Forrest is the loving husband to wife Beverley, the proud father of two sons, David and Timothy, and devoted grandfather to three grandsons Greg, Joe, and Ryan. John Forrest is truly a humble and silent leader who provided extraordinary contributions to the meat science industry.


AMSA also announces Dr. Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan as the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award. The award was established to recognize excellence in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate meat science courses and the impact on the lives of those students in a highly positive manner. The award is sponsored by Hawkins Inc.

Dr. Elisabeth Huff-Lonergan is a professor of meat science and muscle biology at Iowa State University (ISU). She received her B.S in Food Science from the University of Missouri and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Meat Science and Muscle Biology from Iowa State University. She began her faculty career at Auburn University before moving to Iowa State in 1998. Huff-Lonergan's work in meat science has transformed the meat science teaching program at Iowa State University by creating innovative new courses, reinventing existing curricula, and applying new ways to foster student learning. She has enhanced faculty programs and was the author and the key leader in the implementation of peer review of teaching and learning in her department. She refined her signature courses (a junior-level course -Fresh Meats and a fundamental graduate-level course-Advanced Meat Science and Applied Muscle Biology) to increase the impact of these courses. She has developed a new, junior-level course on pet foods (Food Processing for Companion Animals). The latter has filled a unique need in the department for a large number of students interested in companion animals. She has adapted her graduate-level fresh meat and applied muscle biology course to an online course to reach professionals who cannot come to campus.

Huff-Lonergan's passion for the meat and pet food industries has motivated her to seek new educational opportunities for both the industry and students. For example, the pet food industry uses many human food products and by-products that meat science students are uniquely prepared to understand. Huff-Lonergan recognized that a course introducing them to pet food processing would assist these students and the industry by providing them with the science involved with meat products and the technologies of food processing. Indeed, many of the students from her class are now working professionals in the pet food industry.

She firmly believes students must have the necessary information required to think creatively to improve and troubleshoot the processes that they may encounter in their industry. To develop these skills in her graduate and undergraduate courses, Huff-Lonergan provides the students with information on both emerging and ongoing issues facing the industry and asks them to engage with those issues via projects assigned as troubleshooting scenarios. Students are required to go beyond merely memorizing material to using the information presented in class for semester-long projects that require them to prepare a written and oral project reports that analyzes the problem in detail and offers potential solutions. Huff-Lonergan is a faculty leader in an innovative ISU Agriculture Policy and Leadership course that generates in-person collaboration opportunities for undergraduate students with mentors at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In this policy and leadership course, she guides the students in an immersive experience of working in teams with a real client (FAO) to develop educational products that FAO uses in their policy and education efforts. This ambitious course requires critical thinking, problem-solving, and effective reporting in a practical, real-life, international scenario.

Huff-Lonergan has also been influential in helping instructors in her department improve their teaching. She was instrumental in bringing a comprehensive Peer Evaluation of Teaching program to her department. Traditionally, many instructors only receive feedback in the form of course evaluations of students, provided in response to surveys distributed to students at the end of a semester and classroom teaching observations by other faculty. While these are essential snapshots of how things in the classroom are going, it is far from a complete picture of the whole instructional effort of an instructor. Huff-Lonergan's work on the Peer Evaluation of Teaching program focuses the evaluation on the entire instructional effort of a teacher – including syllabi development, class interaction, exams, projects, and all related instructional activities. Her efforts in continuous improvement in teaching have helped change the way instructors in her department evaluate their teaching effectiveness, allowing them to become better, more impactful teachers.

Huff-Lonergan is an outstanding instructor of fundamental graduate and undergraduate meat science and muscle biology courses at Iowa State University. Her former students are employed in academia and industry in career positions. Further, she has provided significant foresight in providing for student career opportunities by developing and teaching a pet foods course for students interested in companion animals and meat products.


AMSA announces that Paul Clayton, Dr. Rhonda Miller And Wendy Feik Pinkerton are the recipients of the 2020 AMSA Signal Service Award. The AMSA Signal Service Award was established in 1956 and is given to members in recognition of devoted service and lasting contributions to the meat industry and to the association. The Signal Service Award is sponsored by Cargill, Elanco Animal Health and Johnsonville, LLC.

Paul Clayton
Paul Clayton became interested in animal agriculture as a youth by being involved in swine and lamb 4-H projects. He obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees from Colorado State University and participated on the Meats, Livestock and Meat Animal Evaluation teams. One enriching project he had as an undergraduate was the opportunity to work on assembling frozen models of beef, pork and lamb that were used in teaching students and producers on live animal and carcass evaluation.

Clayton has worked in Quality Assurance, Food Safety, Research and Development and Technical Services all his career. He started his Quality Assurance career in 1981 at Monfort of Colorado which later merged with ConAgra to form ConAgra Red Meats. Throughout this time, he held several roles including supervisor, manager and vice president. Clayton was also the Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for SSI Foods a division of JR Simplot. For several years he was the Senior Vice President for Technical Services for the US Meat Export Federation and just recently returned to meat processing as the Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Seaboard Triumph Foods. He finds the advancements in meat processing technologies fascinating and appreciates the research and work that was utilized to make these advancements. He is amazed at the changes in meat processing during his career from 1980 to 2020. The processes are much more sanitary, run at higher speeds, create more yield and provide consumers with a higher quality and safer products. Clayton truly treasures working with the different companies and organizations and having the opportunity to work with beef, pork and lamb all over the world.

Clayton has been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on many projects such as pioneering work on Food Safety and HACCP for red meats. He was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods and worked closely with NCBA on the initial development of the BQA program. He worked extensively on developing intervention technologies and is co-inventor of eight U.S. patents. Other projects included instrument grading, new technology and equipment development and new product development. He was co-recipient of the Edison Award for Best New Product Introduced in 1991 for Health Choice Lean Ground Beef. Clayton is active in several professional affiliations and has been on various trade association committees with NAMI, USMEF, NCBA and NPB. Throughout his career he has had the opportunity to work with several of the university meat science departments and AMSA members on many different research projects including meat quality, food safety, product yield and access to foreign markets. He appreciates being part of and included as an author on many research papers. For over 25 years, Clayton reviewed research proposals for the National Livestock and Meat Board, NCBA and NPB.

Meat judging has been a valuable tool and springboard for Clayton’s career. He continued to be heavily involved in meat judging as an AMSA committee member for several contests over a 25-year period and coached 4-H and FFA teams where some succeeded in winning National Titles. In addition, youth development in animal agriculture has been a good part of his life starting when he was a youth and continuing with his children who were members of 4-H and FFA. His family raised and showed cattle, hogs and lambs. Clayton was a Colorado Jr. Angus Assoc. Advisor, county swine leader, fair superintendent and meat judging coach. He received local and state recognition as leader of the year and was given the 2018 Colorado State University Animal Science Ram Alumni Award. Clayton guest lectures at several public schools and universities. His intent is to create an interest in agriculture for young people and hope they pursue agriculture in their future. He is very proud of several club and judging participants who have studied and now work in agriculture.

Clayton has been a member of AMSA since he graduated college and served on several committees. He believes AMSA is a key link that provides meat science professionals success.

Rhonda Miller
Dr. Rhonda Miller has combined a career in industry with her tenure in academics to provide the meat industry with high-impact, industry-oriented research and teaching. Her research program began as a graduate student where she developed and oversaw the dissection procedures for the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Feeder Grade study. She conducted her Ph.D. research at the US Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., where she addressed the impact of nutrition during the stocker phase of production in combination with days on feed on beef carcass characteristics, meat tenderness, and composition. Her first professional position was as Director of Research and Development for Monfort, Inc., where she developed over 300 new products. She assisted in designing a new meat processing facility, implemented improvements for existing products, and developed of new national lines for refrigerated, vacuum-packaged, cooked-meat products, a national school-lunch cooked meat product line, new products for national foodservice customers, and a delicatessen product line.

Miller has been a productive scientist and teacher within the Department of Animal Science since 1988. She has developed a national and international reputation as a premier meat scientist for the beef and pork industry. Her program investigates pre and post-harvest factors impacting red meat quality. She is known and respected nationally and internationally for her use of trained and consumer sensory evaluation techniques to improve the eating quality of beef and pork and other food products. She has been a part of receiving over $25 million in external grants with over $5 million attributed directly to her program, has published over 150 scientific articles, 195 abstracts, 40 invited papers, 8 book chapters, and has trained 68 graduate student and 2 post-doctoral research associates.

Her pre-harvest research has emphasized mechanisms by which genetic and production factors affect beef and pork meat quality and palatability. Her accomplishments include assessments of meat tenderness, trained sensory evaluation, carcass yield and quality, and chemical composition for the Angleton and McGregor Gene Mapping Projects; work from these projects have been used to select beef cattle for improved beef eating quality. She worked to document the effect of Bos indicus sires on sensory and chemical attributes to assist in selecting sires to improve beef quality. She has worked with other researchers to understand the environmental and nutritional factors associated with beef production in Texas and their subsequent effect on beef quality.

Miller has worked collaboratively with Dr. Gordon Carstens in conducting research with the King Ranch and the ARI Corporation to address the relationships of residual feed intake, live animal performance, and animal temperament on carcass characteristics and meat palatability. Miller has worked with others to demonstrate reduction in Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 in feedlot cattle using sodium chlorate and nitro-compounds. She has worked with instrumentation to assess pork value and has used ultrasound and elastography to identify composition and quality attributes of beef and pork carcasses.

Miller was the meat scientist on the National Pork Board’s Production Systems Committee and Genetic Program Committee where she determined the procedures for the Quality Lean Growth Modeling Project, the Maternal Genetic Evaluation Project, the Efficiency of Lean Growth Production Project, the U.S. Pork Consumer Evaluation Project, the Japanese Consumer Evaluation Project, Alternate Systems for Swine Production, and the Pork Quality Benchmark Study. She has served as a member of the Animal Science Committee. In cooperation with Ohio State University, she completed the Pork Quality Consumer Benchmark study to assess for differences in pH, tenderness, marbling, and enhancement in pork. She has worked to develop non-meat ingredients to improve beef and pork shelf-life, safety, and quality including sodium lactate, lactic acid, naturally derived tannin-based compounds and sorghum bran. Her consumer research documented factors affecting beef customer satisfaction and determined consumer perceptions and value of beef tenderness. She developed the Beef Flavor Lexicon in conjunction with Kansas State University, helped validate the lexicon, and is currently conducting research to understand the effect of positive and negative beef flavor attributes on consumer acceptability. She is a primary author for the AMSA Sensory and Cookery Guidelines for Red Meat.

Currently, her work is examining the links between chemical components, volatile aromatic compounds, trained panel descriptive attributes and consumer acceptability. Miller has expanded her use of statistical techniques to examine the aforementioned relationships. She reaches out to other researchers to accomplish her goals and to learn new techniques to further her understanding. She works with the Human Behavior Laboratory at Texas A&M University to understand consumer emotions of beef and pork.

Miller has been an active member of AMSA serving on numerous committees and in multiple leadership roles. Miller was the recipient of the 1992 American Meat Science Achievement Award, the 2006 American Meat Science Teaching Award, the 2015 American Meat Science Research Award, and the 2016 American Society of Animal Science Meat Science Research Award. She was a Director for the American Meat Science Association from 1998 to 2000 and served as President-elect, President, and Past President of the American Meat Science Association from 2017-2019. It was during her service on the Executive Committee of AMSA that she provided leadership and an instrument of change to strengthen AMSA and to provide a strong road-map for its future. She has won several professional awards; has served on numerous professional committees; and she was honored as an AgriLife Faculty Fellow in 2017.

Wendy Feik Pinkerton
Wendy Feik Pinkerton is a nationally recognized science communicator, agricultural marketer, and public relations practitioner of animal agriculture, food, and other science-based subjects. For more than 30 years, she has effectively developed and launched programs—from farm to plate—to advance products and services to clients, customers and consumers.

Pinkerton is an agricultural producer at heart and by birth. She grew up on her family’s northern Illinois farm—Little Creek Farm—where they raised Duroc swine, Hereford and Simmental cattle, soybeans, corn and hay. She spent her summers and many school days with her brother Mark and sister Heidi showing cattle and pigs across the country. Her parents, Barb and Duke Feik, were proponents of their children’s interests, including 4-H, sports, speech contests, livestock judging and community volunteering.

With career interests in animal science and communications, Pinkerton attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communications, with emphasis in animal science and print media. Her interest in meat science was encouraged by a pair of academics—Drs. John Romans and Tom Car.

After graduation, she joined Drovers Journal staff as purebred editor for the then weekly livestock publication. There, Wendy met her future husband, Gary Pinkerton, who worked as the paper’s news editor. They married in 1984 and moved to Gainesville, Florida, the following year.

In Florida, her husband had a chance meeting with animal science faculty at the University of Florida, and he suggested that she seek out graduate school opportunities. With a U.S Department of Agriculture grant to produce a meat cookery and safety handbook, faculty invited her to begin her master’s degree work. Under the tutelage of Drs. Roger West, Dwain Johnson, Jim Lamkey and Fred Leak, Pinkerton completed her MS degree in meat science in 1989. That fall, she and her family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she joined the National Live Stock and Meat Board as Science Information Manager.

During her tenure at the Meat Board, Pinkerton led response teams addressing seminal industry issues, including E. coli O157:H7 and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). She served as a media spokesperson for research activities and issues concerning meat safety and as a coach and trainer to agricultural groups across the country for media interviews, issues management, and crisis communications.

When her son, Aaron, was born in 1994, she knew that the time was ideal to chase her dream of starting her own communications business. So, from late 1994 until 2005, she was the proprietor of Pinkerton Communications, which served the editorial and program management needs of national agribusiness companies and organizations. In 2005, she and four other women launched Demeter Communications, a full-service, customer-focused marketing communications firm. Pinkerton managed the business with one other senior partner and oversaw 15 associates to develop, deliver, and manage programs for food and agri-business companies and organizations across North America. In 2017, she stepped down as senior partner and founder to join Zoetis as Head of U.S. Industry Relations.

At Zoetis, Pinkerton works with her colleagues to ensure there remains choice related to animal health products, services, solutions and, subsequently, a robust future for Zoetis customers. She provides oversight and management for Zoetis membership and sponsorship of livestock and petcare industry organizations. She also directs internal communications to colleagues about regulatory, legislative, industry, and food chain issues.

In the expanse of her career, Pinkerton has prepared more than 5,000 students, professors and industry professionals for media interviews and presentations, participated in more than 80 media interviews, and made presentations at more than 150 agricultural meetings and events. She has also contributed to educational videos, newspaper and magazine stories.

Pinkerton is committed to the ideal of servant leadership and provides her time and skills to many organizations, including:

  • American Meat Science Association: Board member, 2007-09, Student Board Advisory, 2005-07; Membership committee chair, 2009-11; Reciprocal Meat Conference planning committee, 2015-17; AMSA Educational Foundation Trustee, 2015-18, Development Council Chair 2018-20; ICoMST, marketing chair, 2017-present;
  • Meat Business Women-USA: Advisory board, Vice Chair, 2020;
  • Animal Agriculture Alliance: Membership committee member, 2018-present;
  • National Agri-Marketing Association: Membership committee, Chair, 2016-18; Education Foundation Board member, 2018-2020; Chicago Chapter member; Workhorse of the Year Award, 2015-2016;
  • National Association of Farm Broadcasting: Board member, 2017-19.
  • She is a proud lifetime member of University of Illinois College of ACES Alumni Association and the University of Florida Alumni Association.

Pinkerton and her husband Gary live in Champaign, Illinois. Her husband is a recently retired middle school teacher. Their son, Aaron, works in the Chicago area with a sport foundation.

Source: AMSA