AMSA has announced Drs. Thu Dinh, Mahesh Nair, and Tracy Scheffler are the 2021 AMSA Achievement Award recipients. The Achievement Award was established in 1992 and is designed to recognize and foster young professional AMSA members who have demonstrated significant skills and contribution to the animal products industry and is sponsored by Burke Corporation. Dinh, Nair, and Scheffler are being honored during the 74th AMSA Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) awards presentation on August 17, 2021, in Reno, Nevada, hosted by the University of Nevada – Reno.

Thu Dinh
Dr. Thu Dinh is an Associate Professor of Meat Science in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences at Mississippi State University. He directs a nationally recognized program on meat quality and safety. With a “no one does research alone” mindset, Dinh has collaborated extensively with faculty across the nation on over $2 million in grant-funded projects.

Dr. Surendranath Suman, Professor of Meat Science at the University of Kentucky, says, “Dr. Dinh has provided valuable contributions and leadership to the meat science discipline. He is a passionate meat scientist with diverse capabilities and a remarkable record of scholarly productivity.” 

He strongly believes an educated public is the foundation for the sustainability of animal agriculture, developing a beef-related educational seminar program called “Ask the meat man” catered to Mississippi stakeholders. Dr. Dinh says, “At the end of the day, I am proud to consider myself a meat man and an educated butcher who is committed to developing solutions for high-quality and safe meat products.” Dinh jointly developed the Meat Chemistry and Cuisine program at Mississippi State University, where he team-teaches the A (anatomy), B (biology), and C (chemistry) of Meat every fall semester. 

Mahesh N. Nair
Dr. Mahesh Nair is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University. His research covers the fundamental and applied aspects of meat quality and safety, emphasizing postmortem metabolism, meat color, antimicrobial resistance, and liver abscess in beef cattle. He also has been a leader in innovative research comparing plant and animal-sourced proteins, especially looking at their nutritional value, digestibility, and nutritional availability. 

“He is an outstanding researcher and a passionate teacher and serves the meat industry with great dignity. Moreover, his positive personality and work ethic is a blueprint for future meat scientists to follow,” said Dr. Brad Morgan, Professor of Meat Science at Colorado State University.

Mahesh’s service to the agriculture and meat industry goes beyond his research and teaching. He has been instrumental in developing the Global Food Innovation Center at National Western Center. His efforts have been instrumental in developing proposals for creating this unique facility to re-engage urban consumers in agricultural production and processing activities while providing services to promote entrepreneurship. 

Mahesh says, “I feel fortunate to be working with multi-disciplinary research groups and the industry partners - the challenge it offers and the opportunity to learn something new every day. I have also enjoyed the opportunity to work with students in and outside of the classroom.”

Tracy Scheffler
Dr. Tracy Scheffler currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Muscle Biology at the University of Florida. 

“As part of the AMSA community, I am surrounded by great mentors, colleagues, and students. It is exciting and rewarding to share my passion for muscle biology and meat science, and I feel privileged to help mentor the next generation of scientists,
educators, and leaders,” said Dr. Scheffler

The quest to improve the quality and palatability of beef from Bos Indicus influenced cattle certainly provides job security as a meat scientist. The past 50 years of research have likely led to more questions than answers. Additionally, the thermotolerance of Bos Indicus cattle is likely to only expand their use worldwide with climate change. The research done in Dr. Scheffler’s lab is very close to connecting the dots relative to improved efficiency, slower protein turnover, and greater meat toughness depicted by many Bos Indicus influenced cattle. One of the few labs globally focusing on this area of research.  

Chad Carr, Associate Professor Extension Meat Specialist, University of Florida, says, “Dr. Scheffler is making significant contributions to the advancement of science, animal agriculture, and the meat industry. She is a well-respected scholar, speaker, and academician who is an outstanding ambassador for our industry. Additionally, she is an outstanding teacher who has trained numerous undergraduate and graduate students who will continue to develop new knowledge and products in support of the meat-animal industry.” 

Source: AMSA