2024 Southern Section Award Recipients

Distinguished Service Award

Michael L. Looper, University of Arkansas

Dr. Michael L. Looper was raised on a fifth-generation dairy/beef farm in Arkansas and received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Arkansas. Looper received his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University focusing on reproduction in postpartum beef cows. Looper currently serves as Professor and Head of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Arkansas. In 2002, Looper joined the USDA-ARS as Research Animal Scientist conducting research in growth, development, physiology, and nutrition of grazing cattle. He has advised/co-advised more than 30 graduate students, and authored/coauthored 67 peer-refereed journal articles, 2 book chapters, 112 abstracts, and more than 200 Extension, Experiment Station and other publications. Looper served as Associate Editor and Division Editor of the Animal Production Section of the Journal of Animal Science. Looper is an ASAS Fellow and served as ASAS President. Looper and his wife Joneta have two daughters, Madison (David) and Taylor.

Emerging Scholar Award

Anna Goldkamp, Oklahoma State University

Dr. Anna Goldkamp received a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2017. She received a M.S. in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in 2020. Her M.S. research compared fetuses produced via artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization in bovine tissues, leading to the first transfer RNA expression atlas in bovine. In 2023, she obtained her Ph.D. in Animal Science at Oklahoma State University. Her PhD research investigated how tRNA abundance acts as a source of genetic variation which can dictate translational efficiency and proteome composition. She has published 3 first author papers and coauthored 3 additional papers. She has been recognized internationally through a travel award to Advances in Genome Biology and Technology (2022), the Neal A. Jorgenson Genome Travel Award to PAG30, the Next Generation Leadership Award to AGBT-AG 2023, and a travel award to the 2023 International Society of Animal Genetics meeting in Cape Town, South Africa.

Extension Award

Paul A. Beck, Oklahoma State University

Dr. Paul A. Beck holds a 75% extension and 25% research position in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Oklahoma State University. He was promoted to full professor in 2022 and holds the Dennis and Marta White Endowed Chair. Dr. Beck is a highly productive and respected Extension State Specialist with emphasis on beef cattle nutrition and management. Dr. Beck has provided leadership to several successful extension programs including the Cow/Calf Corner Weekly Newsletter, the Department of Animal and Food Sciences Beef Advisory Board, an annual in-service program for new extension educators, the Rancher's Thursday Lunchtime Series webinars, Integrated Beef Cattle Program for Veterinarians, the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network, the Five States Beef Conference, and three different field days. He has also been highly effective in securing extramural funding for his extension and research programs with over $2.1 million in grants over the past five years.

Joseph P. Fontenot Appreciation Club Graduate Student Travel Scholarship

Autumn Pickett, Texas A&M University

Autumn Pickett is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University. Autumn earned her B.S. in Animal Science from Southern Arkansas University in 2018 and her M.S. in Animal Science with a focus in ruminant nutrition from the University of Arkansas in 2020. Autumn is a graduate research assistant in Dr. Reinaldo Cooke’s lab, with her dissertation research focusing on managerial and nutritional strategies to modulate the various microbiota of beef cattle to improve efficiency of beef operations. Autumn has published 3 papers as first-author, co-authored 5 papers, and 20 scientific abstracts.


Outstanding Early Career Animal Scientist Award - Education

Daniel J. Mathew, University of Tennessee

After receiving his B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee (UT), Knoxville, Dr. Daniel J. Mathew received a M.S. and Ph.D. in Animal Science with a focus in Reproductive Physiology from the University of Missouri. Dr. Mathew then studied as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University College Dublin, Ireland, before his appointment as an Assistant Professor at West Virginia University (WVU). Dr. Mathew is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Science at UT, where he serves as the department’s Undergraduate Committee Chair, teaches the department’s undergraduate Animal Anatomy and Physiology course, and conducts research aimed at mitigating reproductive failure in large animal livestock. Since 2017, Dr. Mathew has served as primary instructor for over 840 students in 7 courses, published 15 journal articles, produced 23 conference abstracts, and mentored 6 graduate and 25 undergraduate students in research. In 2020 he received a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) award to investigate early embryonic loss associated with in vitro produced cattle embryos. In 2022, he also received two teaching awards including the W.F. and Golda Moss Outstanding Teaching Award from the UT Herbert College of Agriculture and the UT Gamma Sigma Delta Teaching Award.

Outstanding Early Career Animal Scientist Award - Research

Pedro Fontes, University of Georgia

Dr. Pedro Fontes is an Assistant Professor in beef cattle reproductive physiology at the University of Georgia’s Department of Animal and Dairy Science. He obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Sao Paulo State University, his M.S. in Animal Science from the University of Florida, and his Ph.D. in Physiology of Reproduction from Texas A&M University. Currently, Dr. Fontes’ research and Extension program focuses on improving cattle reproductive efficiency through the improvement of assisted reproductive technologies and development of reproductive management strategies that maximize profitability in beef production systems. His leadership in applied beef cattle reproduction has resulted in invitations to speak at over 130 local, national, and international events. As additional concrete examples of Dr. Fontes’ accomplishments in his short career, he has authored/co-authored 35 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 2 book chapters, 58 peer-reviewed abstracts, and 56 extension and popular publications. Moreover, his program secured more than 1.7 million dollars in funding.

Student Competition Award Recipients

PhD Three-Minute Thesis

3rd Place

Brittany A. Lippy, Oklahoma State University
Goats complement cattle in a woody-plant encroached, diverse Cross Timbers rangeland

2nd Place

Vinicius S. Izquierdo, University of Florida
Maternal pre- and post-partum supplementation of Bacillus-based DFM enhanced cow and calf performance

1st Place

Dallas Soffa, Texas A&M University
Diversity of vaginal bacteria in lactating dairy cattle on pregnancy establishment

MS Three-Minute Thesis

3rd Place

Connor Kern, Texas Tech University
Effects of cottonseed meal supplementation on growth performance of heifers grazing mature summer forage 

2nd Place

Grace Moore, Texas A&M University
Evaluation of dietary Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product on markers of joint inflammation in young, exercising horses following an intra-articular lipopolysaccharide challenge 

1st Place

Macy E. Ragsdale, University of Kentucky
Red clover as a functional feed: Effects on rumen microbiota of finishing ram lambs

Undergraduate Three-Minute Thesis

3rd Place

Alyssa Lopez, Texas State University
In-situ degradability of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) plant components in cattle

2nd Place

Catherine R. Kalmbach, Mississippi State University
Solubility and degradation of human fertility-promoting molecules in a rumen environment

1st Place

Jamie Lavergne, Tarleton State University
Effectiveness of Fenbendazole in growing Quarter Horses using the Quantitative Modified Wisconsin Technique

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