Call for 2024 Award Nominations is closed!  Deadline: January 12, 2024

2023 Western Section Award Recipients

Distinguished Teacher Award

Brenda M. Alexander, University of Wyoming

Dr. Brenda M. Alexander is passionate about education both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. She is the lead instructor in the Department of Animal Science for Anatomy and Physiology, Equine Nutrition and Physiology, Mammalian Endocrinology, co-leads Reproductive Biology Seminar, and guest lectures for Introduction to Animal Science. She also teaches in the WWAMI Medical Education program leading content on Homeostasis and Energetics, co-teaches Nervous System, and guest lectures for numerous courses across campus. Her teaching is also evident in her research program where she has advised numerous Ph.D. and M.S. students as well as an exceptional group of undergraduate students who have gone onto graduate programs. Dr. Alexander values each student and an individual and utilizes a variety of teaching methodologies to engage with a variety of learning styles. One of Dr. Alexander's greatest assets as an instructor is to take complex topics and concepts that are a part of her courses and relate them to real-world problems and scenarios that students can understand and relate to. She has the ability to inspire students to rise to their potential and understand the value of their education beyond the classroom.

Extension Award

Shelby J. Filley, Oregon State University

Dr. Shelby J. Filley received her B.S. in Animal Science at University of California, Davis (1982), M.S. in Ruminant Nutrition at Cal Poly Pomona (1985), and Ph.D. in Nutrition and Reproduction at Oregon State University (1998). She is a Professor and Extension Regional Livestock and Forage Specialist at OSU and is on her 25th year of service there. Dr. Filley’s program includes workshops, publications, and consultations for producers of beef cattle, sheep, goats, and forage. Her work is recognized at the national and international level. She has been invited speaker for state livestock and forage associations and has given presentations in the US, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand. While at OSU, Dr. Filley has had a significant teaching role in over 900 Extension educational programs with nearly 19,000 stakeholders. Her research is focused on forage production to support livestock nutrition, reproduction, productivity, and health. She has published 20 refereed journal articles, 36 peer reviewed Extension publications, and authored over 100 website and popular press articles. She is responsible for managing the beef cattle, sheep and goat, and forages sections of the OSU Extension website, making science-based information accessible to peers and stakeholders. Dr. Filley enjoys mentoring and assisting colleagues in their careers, providing service to her profession and to universities in the western states. She has obtained over $300,000 to support her research and extension efforts.

Young Scholar Award

Sponsored by: Zinpro

Austin R. Brown, University of California, Davis"

Austin R. Brown is a Master’s Animal Biology graduate student at the University of California, Davis. He earned his B.S. in Animal Science from The Pennsylvania State University, where he excelled both academically and in the field. At UC Davis, he has made significant contributions as a corresponding author to four soon to be published research projects. His M.S. project, conducted in Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam's lab, aims to generate the first pre-clinical genetic model of pulmonary arterial hypertension using a CRISPR/Cas9 approach. The project involves targeting an ovine gene with a single guide RNA and a synonymous single-stranded oligo-deoxynucleotide homology-directed repair template during electroporation. The goal is to generate a heterozygous ram, which can aid in establishing a flock for further research studies on the cardiopulmonary phenotype of the progeny. Austin also collaborated on producer-allied field projects with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension personnel. He was recognized for this applied research by receiving the California Woolgrowers Association`s 2022 Scholarship. Austin presented his research findings at various industry events and is known for his excellent communication skills with both scientific and livestock producer communities. In addition to his research activities, Austin serves as a teaching assistant at UC Davis, is the Vice President of the U.S. Texel Sheep Breeders Society, and judges sheep shows nationwide.

Sponsored by: Zinpro

Mackenzie M. Smithyman, New Mexico State University

Mackenzie (Kenzie) Smithyman grew up on a farm in Eastern Washington, where she was active in 4-H and FFA. These early chapters fueled her passion for the cattle industry. She attended Washington State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a focus in Animal Management. As an undergraduate student, she worked at the campus cattle feeding center, where she took an interest in ruminant nutrition, specifically feedlot nutrition. Kenzie continued her education at New Mexico State University, where she earned a master's degree under the supervision of Dr. Vinicius Gouvea and Dr. Clint Loest in June 2022. Her research focused on high-risk receiving calves and water intake following feedlot arrival. She spent the majority of her master's degree at the Clayton Livestock Research Center in Clayton, New Mexico, where she conducted her research and gained valuable feedlot experience. In August, she will begin her Ph.D. at New Mexico State University under the guidance of Dr. Glenn Duff, with the focus of her research involving newly received feedlot calves. Kenzie has a passion to investigate further the impact of nutrition and its effects on the immune system of receiving cattle. Apart from classes and research, Kenzie has attended several professional conferences. Kenzie enjoys meeting faculty and industry representatives, fellow graduate students, networking, and sharing the research conducted at the Clayton Livestock Research Center.

Sponsored by: Zinpro

Rachel L. Gibbs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Rachel grew up in Ballinger, TX where her family raised Rambouillet and Southdown sheep. She was heavily involved in 4-H and FFA as a youth, showing lambs and goats and competing on judging teams. Her strong agricultural background fed her passion for the livestock industry and ultimately led her to Texas A&M after graduating from Ballinger High in 2015. At TAMU, she was a member of the 2016 National Champion Collegiate Wool Judging Team and was assistant coach for the 2017 Reserve National Champion Team. She graduated with honors in 2018 with her BS in Animal Science. Rachel's interest in research began her last year at TAMU, when she served as an undergraduate research assistant on a team studying gene editing effects on male fertility in a mouse model. Her interest in research and physiology led Rachel to the Stress Physiology lab at the University of Nebraska, where her research on metabolic fetal programming in low birthweight offspring has produced two 1 st -author journal articles, two proceedings, three abstracts, and numerous individual awards. She is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta and a former winner of the Perinatal Biology Young Investigator Award and WSASAS 3MT Video Award. She has served as a board member for WSASAS, president of ASGSA, ASCI Graduate Committee Student Rep, undergrad instructor, and liaison for NE Sheep & Goat Producers. She has also authored 3 peer-reviewed extension publications. Rachel finished her M.S. in 2020 and will complete her Ph.D. in 2023.

Young Scientist Award

Jameson R. Brennan, South Dakota State University

Dr. Jameson (Jamie) R. Brennan is an Assistant Professor at South Dakota State University (SDSU), with a focus on the intersection of rangeland and grazing management, data analytics, and precision technology. He is housed at SDSU’s West River Research and Extension center and concentrates his research and Extension programs on grazing beef systems on western rangelands. Dr. Brennan earned his B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University followed by a Ph.D. in Range Science from SDSU. He started as an Assistant Professor in Animal Science at SDSU in 2021 and has been instrumental in establishing SDSU as a leader in precision range and grazing livestock management. During his short time as an Assistant Professor, Dr. Brennan has become nationally and internationally recognized for his ability to develop and apply precision technology to collect, curate and analyze unprecedented research data from range beef cattle systems. Furthermore, he has developed a highly successful Extension program aimed at making precision technologies accessible for producers. Dr. Brennan has authored or co-authored 17 refereed journal articles, 10 proceedings papers, 17 Extension articles, 40 conference abstracts, and 11 popular press articles. Dr. Brennan has secured $82,562,417 in extra mural funding to support his research and outreach activities and is a co-principal investigator on a recent $80 million climate-smart beef and bison grant awarded to SDSU.

Graduate Student Paper Competition

  • 1st Place: Kathlyn Hauxwell, North Dakota State University
    399: Methionine and guanidinoacetic acid supplementation throughout the periconceptual period of gestation alters metabolite concentrations and fetal development.
  • 2nd Place: Anna Kobza, West Texas A&M University
    401: Dietary starch dilution strategies to improve feedlot cattle performance and rumen health.
  • 3rd Place: Briza Castro, New Mexico State University
    398: Subclinical lipopolysaccharide exposure during oocyte maturation disrupts early bovine embryonic development.

Institutional Award

West Texas A&M University

3MT Video Competition

  • 1st Place: Claire Foyil, University of Idaho
  • 2nd Place: Anna Kobza, West Texas A&M
  • 3rd Place: Camila Londono, University of Alberta

Applied Animal Science Paper Award

  • 1st Place: Miranda L. Zuvich, Colorado State University
    Additional Authors: Scott E. Speidel, Colorado State University; Isaac F. Torres-Quijada, Colorado State University; Edward J. Raynor, AgNext; Pedro H. V. Carvlho, Colorado State University; Sara E. Place, AgNext/Colorado State University; Kim R. Stackhouse-Lawson, AgNext/Colorado State University; E. Mark Enns, Colorado State University

    The relationship between pulmonary arterial pressure expected progeny differences and methane emissions.

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