In advance of the American Meat Science Association’s Reciprocal Meat Conference, to be held June 16-19 in Auburn, Ala., the association named several winners for the association’s annual awards. The winners will all be honored at the RMC. The winners announced are:

  • 2013 Distinguished Research Award: Dr. Tommy Wheeler, Research Leader for the Meat Safety and Quality Research Unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center
  • 2013 Distinguished Achievement Award: Dr. Christy L. Bratcher, Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Auburn University; Dr. Terry Houser, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University; Dr. Jeffrey J. Sindelar, Associate Professor and Extension Meat Specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award: Dr. Bryon Wiegand, Associate Professor of Animal Science at the University of Missouri

The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) has announced that Dr. Tommy Wheeler, Research Leader for the Meat Safety and Quality Research Unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, is the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Research Award. The award was established in 1965 to recognize members with outstanding research contributions to the meat industry and is sponsored by ConAgra Foods Inc.

Dr. Wheeler has played a leading role in team research that developed beef classification systems for on-line measurement of meat tenderness and carcass yield grade and marbling. Dr. Wheeler and his colleagues have developed the first, highly accurate beef tenderness classification system using slice shear force that is being used by a major beef processor and retailer to market a successful branded product line, demonstrated that consumers will pay a premium for guaranteed tender beef and that such a product could improve sales and consumer satisfaction with beef at retail stores.

Dr. Wheeler and his colleagues have developed the first accurate non-invasive tenderness prediction system. Their carcass yield grade and marbling system, based on image analysis of the 12th rib cross-section, has been implemented by virtually all of the major North American beef processing plants and should facilitate value-based marketing by providing an objective, more consistent basis for valuing carcasses.

Dr. Wheeler leads the carcass composition and meat quality aspects of the beef germplasm evaluation project that is recognized as the world’s leading source of information on beef breeds. This project has identified three tropically adapted breeds that do not have tougher meat, shown that one copy of the inactive myostatin gene improves both carcass yield and meat tenderness in all muscles, evaluated Wagyu and Scandinavian high-marbling breeds, and obtained an updated evaluation of the most commonly used breeds in the U.S. Dr. Wheeler has developed improved cooking and shearing protocols for shear force as a measure of meat tenderness and has served on committees to bring more standardization to tenderness measurements.

In addition, Dr. Wheeler has been a leading contributor to meat safety research projects that have established the importance of the hide as a source of carcass contamination, demonstrated the efficacy of hide interventions (dehairing, washing, and bromine treatment) to reduce the incidence of carcass contamination which have been widely adopted industry-wide.

Since 2007, Dr. Wheeler has been the Research Leader for the Meat Safety and Quality Research Unit. Leadership provided by Dr. Wheeler focused the meat quality and food safety research programs on high priority national problems. Dr. Wheeler has employed a leadership style that has maintained the high level of productivity in the scientists performing at the highest level and increased the productivity of underperforming scientists while expanding the Unit’s list of industry stakeholders and collaborators.

Dr. Wheeler, who also received the AMSA Signal Service Award in 2012 and the AMSA Achievement Award in 1996, is an internationally recognized expert on those topics and has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences and symposia. He is frequently consulted by various industry segments requesting research to solve a problem or assistance implementing his research results. Dr. Wheeler has authored or co-authored 140 refereed journal publications and chapters for two books, 105 abstracts and 76 technical reports.

Dr. Tommy Wheeler was nominated by Dr. Jeffrey Savell, Texas A&M University, who stated that “In addition to his vast research contributions in the area of meat safety over a relatively short period of time, Dr. Wheeler has also gained international recognition as an expert on various aspects of meat tenderness and breed characterization.”

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. Drs. Bratcher, Houser and Sindelar will be honored at a special awards banquet at the AMSA 66th Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) on Tuesday, June 18, 2013 in Auburn, AL.

Dr. Christy L. Bratcher
Dr. Christy L. Bratcher is an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Auburn University. She joined the faculty in March, 2008 and since then her responsibilities have been in research, teaching and outreach. She teaches three courses per year, and guest lectures in numerous other classes. Her research has been focused on meat quality and food safety, with an emphasis in industry related applied research. Dr. Bratcher has earned over $7 million in total research funding, has published 17 manuscripts and 33 abstracts. She was also the recipient of the 2011 Dean's Award for Advising Excellence. She serves as advisor to the Collegiate Cattlemen & Cattlewomen and is the faculty advisor for the meats lab. Dr. Bratcher is also a core faculty member of the Auburn University Foods Systems Initiative.

Dr. Bratcher has built a very strong graduate student training program and currently mentors more graduate students than any other faculty member in the department. Her former graduate students hold key positions in the meat science industry across the country. She engages her students in real world researchable issues in partnership with industry, and takes students out into industry to see first-hand what their careers will be like. Incorporating these experiential learning opportunities in her students' graduate training set her apart from the routine laboratory researcher.

Dr. Terry A. Houser
Dr. Terry Houser is an associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University with a 50% Research and 50% Teaching appointment. His research has focused on two main areas of research including value-added meat research and the effect of diet on meat quality. His work and collaboration with other Kansas State scientists has yielded $724,900 in external gifts and grant funding, 13 peer reviewed scientific publications, 20 Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports of Progress, and 29 posters/abstracts at scientific meetings.

Dr. Houser’s’ published and proprietary research has directly improved color stability and eye appeal of beef and pork products produced in Kansas and surrounding states which are marketed nationwide. He, in collaboration with other Kansas State researchers, was asked by the National Pork Board and American Meat Institute Foundation to benchmark the amount of heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) found in a large number of commercially available meat products and to research possible mitigation strategies to decrease HCA formation. As a consequence, Dr. Houser and other Kansas State researchers have published several peer-reviewed articles on the amount and types of HCA’s found in different meat products and are currently investigating new mitigation strategies to decrease HCA formation.

Dr. Jeffrey J. Sindelar
Dr. Sindelar currently serves as an associate professor and extension meat specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has established productive extension (80% appointment) and research (20% appointment) programs in meat processing that is well recognized at the state, regional, national and international level. In his extension role, Dr. Sindelar provides assistance to meat processors in the areas of product development, problem solving and regulatory compliance. He also coordinates basic and applied meat science workshops and training programs and is also involved in supporting FFA and 4-H youth in meat science related activities.

In his research role, Dr. Sindelar investigates the quality and sensory characteristics of processed meats, non-meat ingredient functionality in meat products, and intervention strategies to control pathogenic bacteria in meat products. Perhaps Jeff’s signature outreach educational accomplishment is the development of the Master Meat Crafter Training Program for Wisconsin meat processors. It is the first of its kind training program in the United States. The key purpose of the program is to provide participants with access to new ideas, information and technology to help their family meat businesses achieve long term sustainability. It is an intensive program providing meat processors up to date information on processed meat production.

Drs. Bratcher, Houser and Sindelar are exemplary young scholars and their dedications to the industry make them outstanding candidates for the AMSA Distinguished Achievement Award.

Dr. Bryon Wiegand is the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Award. The award, sponsored by Kraft Foods Inc./Oscar Mayer Division, Madison, Wis., was established to recognize excellence in the teaching of undergraduate and graduate meat science courses and the positive impact on the lives of students.

Dr. Bryon Wiegand is Associate Professor of Animal Science at the University of Missouri, specializing in meat science. He received his B.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Missouri, the M.S. degree in Animal Breeding from Auburn University, and the Ph.D. degree in Animal Science from Iowa State University. He joined the Illinois State Animal Science faculty in 2000, where he had both research and teaching responsibilities. He taught seven upper level undergraduate and two graduate level courses in the food animal and research methods curriculum. In 2007, he joined the faculty at the University of Missouri where he teaches Live Animal and Meat Evaluation and Physiology and Biochemistry of Muscle. He also Co-teaches Introductory Animal Science Lab Practicum and Meat Investigations, a graduate laboratory methods course.

Dr. Wiegand’s research efforts are focused on nutritional interventions to improve meat quality. His specific area of expertise is the lipid profile of fresh meat products. He has garnered $1.3 million in research funding support since 2000. He has published 28 refereed journal articles, 65 abstracts, 13 extension publications, 3 book chapters, and one meat science lab textbook. He has mentored 20 graduate students. He supervises the University of Missouri Meat Sciences Processing Facility, serves as Block and Bridle Club Faculty Advisor, and is the Technical Advisor to the Missouri Association of Meat Processors.

Dr. Wiegand has served as a member of AMSA on the Graduate Research Poster Competition Committee. He has served multiple years on the Midwest ASAS Academic Quadrathlon Committee and on the Meat Science and Muscle Biology Committee. He chaired Meat Science and Muscle Biology in 2004. Bryon is currently serving as the

President of the Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Science and is in his second, three year term as a member of the Journal of Animal Science Editorial Board. Dr. Wiegand has been honored with ten teaching awards at the collegiate level. The most current of these awards being the University of Missouri Provost’s Outstanding Teaching Award and Outstanding Teacher Award given by the National American Society of Animal Science.

Dr. Bryon Wiegand was nominated by Dr. Rodney Geisert, University of Missouri, who stated that “Dr. Wiegand’s best qualities as a teacher is his willingness to take the time needed to ensure that each student receives his personal attention which makes him highly deserving of receiving the American Meat Science Association Distinguished Teaching Award.”

Source: AMSA