University Highlight- Oklahoma State University

Aug 30, 2019

Incredible meat scientists gain their knowledge through experience not just in the workplace, but through education and opportunities provided in and out of a classroom. The American Meat Science Association would like to take an opportunity to showcase those universities who help students grow into successful individuals. A new project for AMSA’s consumer website, “The Meat We Eat”, involves getting to know these universities important to meat science. This week’s university showcase is Oklahoma State University.

 

The College of Agriculture at Oklahoma State University consisted of Agriculture and Horticulture. Back in the day, 1906, the Agriculture department was further separated and included a Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying. The classes in this area consisted of butter making, cheese making, and poultry handling later in 1911. In 1921, Farm Meats was a course offered by Fred Beard and is the earliest record of a meats course. Eleven years later, the Meat Laboratory was built, allowing students to learn how to render lard, and prepare fats, hides, oils, etc. The new building was especially well adapted for killing, cutting, and curing of all kinds of meat. The Food Science major was officially added to the Animal Science Department in 2006, and as it grew it and grew over the years, it again, changed to the Department of Animal and Food Sciences on July 1, 2018. Oklahoma State University is a pioneer in the field when it comes to molding great scientists.

Getting to Know Oklahoma State University:

How is your university setting itself apart in the field of meat science food science?

“We have a unique combination of applied and basic research, and our close association with the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center allows us to know more about food industry and to solve industry-related food quality issues. The state-of-the-art facility helps to conduct cutting edge research and to simulate industry conditions. Faculties at FAPC and the Department of Animal and Food Sciences can meet most of the industry needs and train next-generation workforce.”

What do you see as your role in the meat industry/food science industry/animal agriculture sector?

“The food industry is changing continuously. Our role is to find solutions to complex issues or to make meat industry more profitable. Our research has been focused on increasing value to producers. We conduct both applied and fundamental research to understand quality changes in meat during storage. We train graduate and undergraduate students to meet future workforce.

Notwithstanding the academic efforts of the university for the meat science/food science student body, the university continues a very long tradition of service to industry through training, education, and technical support.

Many industry professionals attribute their personal successes to youth organizations such as 4-H and FFA.  Oklahoma A&M and OSU have a long affiliation with the development and execution of hundreds of youth programs through these organizations.  Additionally, service to industry professionals has been a tradition at the University.  Oklahoma A&M College held the first annual Meat Retailer’s Short Course in 1934.  By the 1950’s the university assisted with the development and operation of the Oklahoma Freezer Operators Association, which later became the Oklahoma-Texas Meat Processors Association, which continues today, and enjoys a vital partnership with Oklahoma State University.  In more recent times, the regulatory and industry practices are changing at such a rapid rate – even at a rate more rapid than the graduation rate of the university.  Accordingly, the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center has offered thousands of industry workshops to help keep industry professionals contemporary with ever changing practices.”

Further History About Oklahoma State University’s Start in Meat and Food Science:

 “From 1890 to 1906 the College of Agriculture consisted of two departments (Agriculture and Horticulture). In 1906, the Department of Agriculture was divided into the Department of Agronomy and the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, with Animal Husbandry and Dairying being further split into separate departments in 1908.  The earliest record found of a food-processing course is from the 1908 course catalog; separate courses in butter making and cheese making were offered.  Courses dealing with poultry were not offered until 1911 and were taught in the Animal Husbandry Department until 1915 when the Poultry Husbandry Department was formed.

In 1921 a course named Farm Meats was offered by instructor Fred Beard, and is the earliest record of a meats course.  These courses and associated hand-on laboratory work were held in the Animal Husbandry building until the Meat Laboratory was erected in 1931-1932 and included a basement and two floors.  The facility was equipped with a laboratory for rendering lard, preparing fats, hides, oils, etc.  There also included a laboratory for Home Economics students which had an interest in studying meats.  The main floor contained a large processing laboratory, lecture room, and a research laboratory.  An annex contained a smoke house.  In the 1930’s, the building was especially well adapted for the killing, cutting, and curing of all kinds of meat, as well as the study of problems in connection with meat and the handling of meat.

The Meat Laboratory realized significant modifications and upgrades in 1950 and 1983 in order to accommodate changing student and industry needs.  In 1994 the Meat Laboratory was demolished to allow for the construction of the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center which is the current facility housing academic and industry food industry needs.

The food science major was added to the Animal Science Department in 2006. As the food science program grew, the department saw the need for a name change. On July 1, 2018, the name of the department of officially changed to Department of Animal and Food Sciences.”

Meat Science Faculty History Provided by Oklahoma State University:

Fred Beard............................................................................... 1920-1931

Art Beale................................................................................. 1932-1944

Jim Hillier................................................................................. 1945-1952

Lowell E. Walters...................................................................... 1952-1985

Robert L. Henrickson................................................................ 1956-1987

John J. Guenther...................................................................... 1958-1992

Frederick K. Ray....................................................................... 1978-2003

H. Glen Dolezal......................................................................... 1983-1999

Larry W. Hand.......................................................................... 1988-1994

Lawrence Yates........................................................................ 1988-1994

James Lamkey.......................................................................... 1990-1994

J. Brad Morgan......................................................................... 1995-2010

Kevin Nanke (FAPC)................................................................. 1988-2000

J. Chance Brooks...................................................................... 2000-2002

Halldor Sigfusson (FAPC).......................................................... 2001-2003

Deb Roeber Vanoverbeke........................................................ 2005-2019

Gretchen (Hilton) Mafi............................................................. 2006-present

Ranjith Ramanathan................................................................. 2012-present

 

Best advice for students to succeed at any university if they choose to follow the meat/food science path?

“Find your passion, work hard, and have the right attitude. Try to get exposure in hands-on experience during undergraduate education. This can be by volunteering in meat lab or work as a student worker. This will help the student to know if they are genuinely interested or not. Also, do an internship during undergraduate – this allows the opportunity to see operations, quality assurance, food safety, sales, research. Explore opportunities – the meat/food industry has so much to offer – you will be amazed! I would suggest pursuing graduate school in meat or food science to know more about industry or to know problems of food industry. Develop communication skills, both written and oral communication.

Get involved with campus organizations, undergraduate research, judging teams. Get involved off campus – the American Meat Science Association and their industry partners offers students amazing events throughout the year. Take advantage!”

 

Thank you, Jake Nelson, Dr. Ranjith Ramanathan, and Dr. Gretchen Mafi, for being our spokespeople for Oklahoma State University and being leaders for students in the industry. The support of universities who excel in meat and food science are essential to growing industry leaders for the future. 

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