American Meat Science Association honors Dr. Rhonda Miller as the 2015 AMSA Distinguished Research Award Winner

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Dr. Rhonda K. Miller

CHAMPAIGN, IL, May 12, 2015— The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) has announced that Dr. Rhonda Miller, Professor of Meat Science in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, is the recipient of the 2015 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. Miller will be honored at a special awards banquet at the AMSA 68th Reciprocal Meat Conference on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in Lincoln, NE.

Dr. Rhonda Miller grew up in the small northeastern town of Holyoke, CO. She earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Colorado State University where she conducted her doctorate research in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Clay Center, Nebraska. Before joining the faculty at Texas A&M University, Rhonda was Director of Research and Development at Monfort, Inc., where she developed more than 300 new meat products for its further processed division. In her current position as a Professor of Meat Science at Texas A&M University, Dr. Miller teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Meat and Sensory Science and is Director of the Sensory Testing Facility in the Department of Animal Science. She also leads an expert‐trained descriptive attribute sensory panel that provides support for eight meat scientists and faculty and scientists from other institutions and industry cooperators where a variety of meat and food products are evaluated for flavor and palatability. Her work includes helping to establish sensory lexicons for numerous different meat products, not to mention other food products like aromatic rice and coffee.

Her current research focuses on the antemortem and postmortem factors affecting the composition, palatability and quality of red meat; development of automated grading technology to determine quality in beef and pork; and the use of nonmeat  ingredients to improve the shelf life  and/or safety of red meat with emphasis on development of value added red meat products. Most recently she has concentrated on determining the consumer attitudes of beef flavor and the flavor drivers of consumer acceptance. This research has been widely recognized due to its relevance to beef demand and takes into account heavy and light beef eaters and also attitudes of millennial consumers. This has led her to the utilization of complex multivariate statistical analyses that develops clusters of meat quality drivers around consumers’ attitudes. Dr. Miller’s research includes 118 refereed journal articles, three dozen invited papers, 60 Texas Agricultural Extension Service publications, 144 abstracts, 7 books or book chapters, numerous invited talks and nearly $9 million in research grant dollars. She has also mentored more than 55 graduate students during her career.

Rhonda has established longtime collaborative efforts with faculty in engineering, agronomy and crop science, and food science, and has working relationships with faculty from all over the United States and abroad. Her outgoing, upbeat personality and willingness to work with almost anyone makes her a favorite collaborator of faculty and industry partners across a wide range of disciplines and geographic regions. Dr. Miller has presented her research findings in Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, and Brazil to name a few. This recognition has bled over to her graduate student program where she has mentored students from many of these countries as well as Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Columbia, and more. Her contributions to the industry and recognition by both academic and industry groups show her strong focus on sound scientific philosophy and scholarly principles.

Dr. Rhonda Miller was nominated by Dr. Chris Kerth, who stated that “can think of no other person more deserving than Dr. Miller and believe that she is extraordinarily qualified to receive this award.  Her accomplishments as a researcher have made her nationally and internationally renowned as the go-to expert in the area of Meat Sensory Analysis.”
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AMSA fosters community and professional development among individuals who create and apply science to efficiently provide safe and high quality meat defined as red meat (beef, pork and lamb), poultry, fish/seafood and meat from other managed species.

Source: AMSA HONORS Dr. Rhonda Miller as the 2015 AMSA Distinguished Research Award Winner

Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team competes at Reciprocal Meat Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska

Texas A&M University Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team
Texas A&M University Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team

Texas A&M University Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team

The Texas A&M University Quiz Bowl Team competed at the American Meat Science Association Reciprocal Meat Conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday, June 13, 2015. Two four-member teams went deep in the double-elimination tournament before they were eliminated. The team was selected in May from a group of students who  first attended a Quiz Bowl information meeting in January, 2015.

Members of the 2015 team were David-Elias Bayona, San Antonio, Texas; Courtney Boykin, Pflugerville, Texas; Drew Cassens, Burleson, Texas; Ashley Corona, Corona, California; Andrew Fry, Dumas, Texas; Brogan Horton, Larkspur, Colorado; Emily Mahalitc, Eagle Lake, Texas; Kaylee McIntosh, Keller, Texas; and Mitch Rando, Sugar Land, Texas. The team was coached by Clay Eastwood with assistance from Helen Kline and Hillary Henderson. Dan Hale serves as the faculty coordinator for the team.

Front row: Drew Cassens, David-Elias Bayona, Mitch Rando, and Andrew Fry. Back row: Clay Eastwood (coach), Hillary Henderson (coach), Ashley Corona, Emily Mahalitc, Courtney Boykin, Ashley Corona, Kaylee McIntosh, and Helen Kline (coach)

Front row: Drew Cassens, David-Elias Bayona, Mitch Rando, and Andrew Fry. Back row: Clay Eastwood (coach), Hillary Henderson (coach), Ashley Corona, Emily Mahalitc, Courtney Boykin, Brogan Horton, Kaylee McIntosh, and Helen Kline (coach)

Lindsey Mehall receives Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching

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Lindsey Mehall and Dr. Karen Butler-Purry

Lindsey Mehall and Dr. Karen Butler-Purry

Lindsey N. Mehall received a Association of Former Students Distinguished Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Teaching at a ceremony held in the Stark Gallery in the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University on Monday, April 28, 2015. Lindsey was one of six students to receive a teaching award along with eight doctoral students who received Excellence in Research Awards.

Recipients of Association of Former Students Graduate Student Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Research

Recipients of Association of Former Students Graduate Student Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Research

Lindsey is from McKinney, Texas, and she received her bachelor’s in animal science in 2008 and master’s in meat science in 2010, both from the University of Arkansas. Lindsey is working on her Ph.D. program in animal science with graduate certificates in meat science and food safety under Dr. Jeff Savell and Dr. Kerri Gehring investigating various parameters for controlling the major E. coli pathogens.

Since her arrival at Texas A&M University, Lindsey has taught ANSC 307, Meats laboratories, which provide students with intensive hands-on learning opportunities combining scientific, technical, and regulatory aspects of this field. Lab instructors must fully understand the complex nature of the conversion of animals into food, and Lindsey has been masterful in teaching students in this area. Lindsey also has assisted with ANSC 457, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems coordinating and grading student presentations and assisting them in the design of a food safety program. Lindsey has coached the Meat Science Quiz Bowl Team, which competes in a yearly national contest. She has spent countless hours preparing the team for this competition for two straight years. Lindsey’s skills as an outstanding teacher are further enhanced through her service work with many different Texas A&M AgriLife Extension activities including Beef 101, Beef 706, Pork 101, Barbecue Summer Camp, Camp Brisket, Introductory HACCP Course, and Beyond Basics: HACCP Plan Improvement Workshop.

In 2013, Lindsey received two important graduate student awards. She received the Ronnie L. Edwards Graduate Student Teaching Award, in recognition of her important contributions as a graduate student to the undergraduate student experience, and the Z. L. Carpenter Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Meat Science, which is presented annually to a graduate student who demonstrates outstanding leadership skills and has contributed significantly to the Meat Science section’s teaching, research, and extension activities.

Scholarship established in memory of long-time Rosenthal Meat Center employee, Don “Pudge” Palmer ’81

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Don “Pudge” Palmer

Don “Pudge” Palmer ’81, a long-time employee of the Rosenthal Meat Center, passed away March 31, 2015 after a brief illness. He will be missed by all.

Don lived a servant’s life where he loved teaching and helping others. He truly cared for students and helped them in whatever they needed done. Don loved to tailgate during football season at the Rosenthal Meat Center, and he always was preparing food for the meat judging team workouts throughout the fall and spring. Food brings people together, and Don’s passion was making sure that everyone was well fed and taken care of.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Dr., College Station, TX 77840.  Please designate the Don Palmer Memorial Animal Science Scholarship in the memo line of the check.​

Beef 101 dates announced for 2015

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Jeff Savell teaching Beef 101 June 2013

Jeff Savell teaching Beef 101 June 2013

Beef 101 is a three-day intensive hands-on program designed for anyone who has an interest in expanding their knowledge of the total beef industry. This workshop has become known as the leading educational program for basic information about the beef industry provided anywhere in the United States. Beef 101 has been conducted for the past 20 years in the Texas A&M University Department of Animal Science facilities and is currently offered three times yearly.

2015 Beef 101 Workshops

When: May 5-7, 2015, June 23-25, 2015, and December 9-11, 2015

To view a tentative agenda and brochure for 2015 events, visit 2015 May Beef 101 and Beef 101 brochure.

How to Register: Register online at (key word – beef 101).  The registration fee does not include transportation to College Station or lodging, however, many of the meals and daily bus transportation to and from the activities from the host hotel is covered.

For help with registration, call AgriLife Conference Services at (979) 845-2604.

For specific content information about the course contact Dr. Davey Griffin at

Where: On the campus of Texas A&M University, College Station

Who: Anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of the total beef industry. Former participants include representatives from state beef councils, national and international beef and meat associations, major communication/advertising groups, food companies (food service, retail, distributors, packers), and governmental agencies.

A maximum of 40 participants per session are accepted in order for maximum hands-on participation and interaction with faculty, staff and graduate student instructors.

For more information, go to the Department of Animal Science page for Beef 101.

Marbling research shows healthy fat in beef has benefits | AgriLife Today

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Writer: Blair Fannin, 979-845-2259,

COLLEGE STATION – Beef with reasonable marbling and juicy taste is preferred among consumers, and industry leaders continue to monitor how to consistently produce a product with these traits. A recent research article addresses the biology and biochemistry of beef marbling and its effects on production systems, carcass and fat quality.

“We need fat in beef to improve the eating experience,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and Regents Professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University. “We can increase the fat and marbling throughout the production cycle, but for many years there’s been this perception among consumers that too much fat in ground beef isn’t a good thing. Against conventional wisdom, ground beef of all kinds actually is healthy for you.”

Smith teamed with Dr. Brad Johnson, Gordon W. Davis Regent’s Chair in the department of animal and food science at Texas Tech University, to co-author a paper, “Marbling: Management of cattle to maximize the deposition of intramuscular adipose tissue.”

The research was funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Beef Checkoff Program and can be found online at

Dr. Stephen Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, looks over research examining marbling and healthy fat in beef. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

Dr. Stephen Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist and professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University, looks over research examining marbling and healthy fat in beef. (Texas A&M AgriLife Research photo by Blair Fannin)

“In our research, we examined young cattle just before they marbled, and were primarily looking at genes related to fatty acid composition,” Smith said. “We’ve always had a strong interest in the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which is abundant in olive oil and is a healthful fatty acid. We start out the marbling article relating how increasing the amount of fat in beef is definitely related to palatability. So we want to increase the fat content to a certain level to provide a good eating experience.”

In the research article, Smith and Johnson discuss how as more cattle fatten and put down marbling, the fat becomes healthier because there is a replacement of saturated fats with oleic acid.

“We are very interested in that,” Smith said. “What are the cellular processes that regulate this very natural increase in oleic acid in beef?”

Smith said Johnson looked at gene expression associated with fat development. In general terms in transitioning from pasture or grass feeding, to feedlot feeding there is profound increase in genes associated with fat development and making more oleic acid, Smith said.

“You can barely detect expression of genes related to marbling and fat composition in cattle on pasture, but much more so when cattle are fed grain,” he said. “The longer they are on feed the more oleic acid they deposit. If you take Korean Hanwoo or Japanese Waygu, which are fed up to 30 months of age, they have an extraordinary amount of marbling and oleic acid. Hanwoo and Wagyu beef marbling fat is very soft, which provides a juicy mouth feel.”

Smith said within the article they describe the published ground-beef studies and how ground beef affects cholesterol in humans.

“In most studies, ground beef increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – the good cholesterol – in men and women,” he said.

According to the research, the relationship between fat and overall palatability “underscores the importance of grain feeding and intramuscular lipid in beef quality.”

As fat increases, it is accompanied by a decrease in the proportion of saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids with a corresponding increase in oleic acid and other monounsaturated fatty acids.

“The more cattle fatten, (the more) they put down more marbling and the more healthful the beef is,” Smith said.

Both Smith and Johnson said they wondered why.  Randomized, controlled studies evaluated individuals who consumed ground beef formulated from long-fed, grain-fed steers for five weeks (five patties per week), compared to consumption of regular ground beef – lower in oleic acid. HDL cholesterol increased significantly in normocholesterolemic men and postmenopausal women fed the high-oleic acid ground beef. In these studies, the men consumed ground beef containing 24 percent fat and the women consumed ground beef containing 20 percent fat.

The conclusions were that, even at these high levels of fat intake, ground beef had no negative effects on lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism in men and women, and ground beef naturally enriched in oleic acid had positive health benefits.

“We hope to convince everyone in the beef production chain, all the way from producers to retailers, that healthy fat in beef not only improves flavor, but you can modify the animal naturally so that the beef contains more oleic acid,” Smith said. “This provides a very palatable product that, even though it contains a relatively high level of fat, is not going to have a negative impact on cholesterol metabolism in humans.”

Marbling research shows healthy fat in beef has benefits | AgriLife Today.

Aggie Processed Meat Technology School set April 22-24, 2015 in College Station

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Meat Processing School

Aggie Processed Meats Technology School

Mark your calendars and register for the 2015 Aggie Processed Meat Technology School to be held April 22-24.  According to Dan Hale, Extension Meat Specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, based on input from past participants, the school has been expanded by one additional day.  The web site with a tentative schedule, more general information and registration information can be found at

When ask whom the school is directed towards Hale said, “anyone who wants to learn the basic science and art of making processed meat products should attend. Including people who are directly involved in processed meat production, as well as others in your company (such as quality control, business management, public relations and sales and marketing personnel) who need a thorough overview of how processed meat products are made and the how’s and why’s of the process.”

The first day of the school will focus on what you should consider when choosing the meat products and other ingredients to include in the processed meat item. The second day, attendees will participate in demonstrations regarding making sausage and cured and whole muscle products.  Then on the final day experts will demonstrate cooking, smoking, and thermal processing considerations and participants will learn about ways to evaluate the finished product for quality and safety. The Southwest Meat Association, North American Meat Institute, and Texas Association of Meat Processors have partnered with the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to conduct this school.


Students participate in American Meat Science Association Student Leadership Conference

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Texas A&M University students at leadership conference

Michael Yeater, Hillary Henderson, Helen Kline, Clay Eastwood, Courtney Boykin, and Michael Berto

The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) Student Membership Board of Directors announced that 86 students from 13 universities attended the AMSA 2015 Student Leadership Conference in Springdale, Arkansas on March 13-14, 2015. Texas A&M University students who participated included Michael Berto, Courtney Boykin, Clay Eastwood, Hillary Henderson, Helen Kline, and Michael Yeater.

Students began Friday morning, March 13, with tours of the Cryovac and a Tyson poultry processing plant. After the tours, students headed over to the Tyson Discovery Center where Tyson’s food technologists and chefs shared their knowledge with student members that afternoon in a workshop setting to help students prepare for an Iron Chef competition the following morning.

Saturday, March 14, after the Iron Chef competition, the focus of the conference turned towards becoming a professional where Dale Carnegie training was incorporated concentrating on two main modules: handling mistakes and communicating to lead. This training was designed to impress industry professionals and provide the students with a competitive lead on internship and career opportunities.

The Leadership Conference is co-sponsored by the AMSA Student Membership, AMSA Educational Foundation, American Society of Animal Science, Merck Animal Health and Tyson Foods, Inc.

Eastwood, Olson receive International Livestock Congress travel fellowships

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Cameron Olson and Clay Eastwood

Cameron Olson and Clay Eastwood

Graduate student Clay Eastwood and undergraduate student Cameron Olson were each chosen to attend the 2015 International Livestock Congress held March 4-5, 2015 at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Eastwood and Olson were among 12 students chosen from around the world to attend the international meeting as part of the Travel Fellowship Program. This year marked the 30th anniversary of the ILC, which brought together 175 scientists and agriculturalists from 21 countries.

Pork 101 scheduled at Texas A&M University on May 19-21, 2015

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Hillary Henderson and Leslie Frenzel meeting their group

Hillary Henderson and Leslie Frenzel meeting their group

The American Meat Science Association (AMSA) is excited to announce that the 2015 PORK 101 courses will be held May 19-21 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and October 19-21 at Iowa State University, in Ames, Iowa. PORK 101 is hosted by AMSA in cooperation with the National Pork Board and is sponsored by Elanco Animal Health. PORK 101 is co-sponsored by the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), North American Meat Institute Foundation (NAMIF) and the Southwest Meat Association (SMA). Registration for AMSA members and other partnering organizations is $800. Non-member registration is $950. A special thank you goes out to Elanco Animal Health, a company dedicated to enhancing animal health through science and innovation. For more information or questions regarding PORK 101 please visit: or contact Deidrea Mabry.