Paul Clayton, Dr. Rhonda Miller And Wendy Feik Pinkerton Named 2020 Signal Service Winners

Jul 31, 2020

SignalServiceThe American Meat Science Association (AMSA) announces that Paul Clayton, Dr. Rhonda Miller And Wendy Feik Pinkerton are the recipients of the 2020 AMSA Signal Service Award. The AMSA Signal Service Award was established in 1956 and is given to members in recognition of devoted service and lasting contributions to the meat industry and to the association. The Signal Service Award is sponsored by Cargill, Elanco Animal Health and Johnsonville, LLC. Recipients will be honored on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. (CST), during the Virtual 66th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) and the AMSA 73rd Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) awards presentation.


Paul Clayton

PaulClaytonPaul Clayton became interested in animal agriculture as a youth by being involved in swine and lamb 4-H projects. He obtained B.S. and M.S. degrees from Colorado State University and participated on the Meats, Livestock and Meat Animal Evaluation teams. One enriching project he had as an undergraduate was the opportunity to work on assembling frozen models of beef, pork and lamb that were used in teaching students and producers on live animal and carcass evaluation. 

Clayton has worked in Quality Assurance, Food Safety, Research and Development and Technical Services all his career. He started his Quality Assurance career in 1981 at Monfort of Colorado which later merged with ConAgra to form ConAgra Red Meats. Throughout this time, he held several roles including supervisor, manager and vice president. Clayton was also the Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for SSI Foods a division of JR Simplot. For several years he was the Senior Vice President for Technical Services for the US Meat Export Federation and just recently returned to meat processing as the Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance for Seaboard Triumph Foods.  He finds the advancements in meat processing technologies fascinating and appreciates the research and work that was utilized to make these advancements. He is amazed at the changes in meat processing during his career from 1980 to 2020.  The processes are much more sanitary, run at higher speeds, create more yield and provide consumers with a higher quality and safer products. Clayton truly treasures working with the different companies and organizations and having the opportunity to work with beef, pork and lamb all over the world.

Clayton has been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on many projects such as pioneering work on Food Safety and HACCP for red meats. He was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods and worked closely with NCBA on the initial development of the BQA program. He worked extensively on developing intervention technologies and is co-inventor of eight U.S. patents. Other projects included instrument grading, new technology and equipment development and new product development. He was co-recipient of the Edison Award for Best New Product Introduced in 1991 for Health Choice Lean Ground Beef. Clayton is active in several professional affiliations and has been on various trade association committees with NAMI, USMEF, NCBA and NPB.  Throughout his career he has had the opportunity to work with several of the university meat science departments and AMSA members on many different research projects including meat quality, food safety, product yield and access to foreign markets. He appreciates being part of and included as an author on many research papers. For over 25 years, Clayton reviewed research proposals for the National Livestock and Meat Board, NCBA and NPB.

Meat judging has been a valuable tool and springboard for Clayton’s career. He continued to be heavily involved in meat judging as an AMSA committee member for several contests over a 25-year period and coached 4-H and FFA teams where some succeeded in winning National Titles. In addition, youth development in animal agriculture has been a good part of his life starting when he was a youth and continuing with his children who were members of 4-H and FFA. His family raised and showed cattle, hogs and lambs. Clayton was a Colorado Jr. Angus Assoc. Advisor, county swine leader, fair superintendent and meat judging coach.  He received local and state recognition as leader of the year and was given the 2018 Colorado State University Animal Science Ram Alumni Award. Clayton guest lectures at several public schools and universities. His intent is to create an interest in agriculture for young people and hope they pursue agriculture in their future. He is very proud of several club and judging participants who have studied and now work in agriculture. 

Clayton has been a member of AMSA since he graduated college and served on several committees. He believes AMSA is a key link that provides meat science professionals success.

Rhonda Miller

MillerRhondaDr. Rhonda Miller has combined a career in industry with her tenure in academics to provide the meat industry with high-impact, industry-oriented research and teaching.  Her research program began as a graduate student where she developed and oversaw the dissection procedures for the USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Feeder Grade study.  She conducted her Ph.D. research at the US Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., where she addressed the impact of nutrition during the stocker phase of production in combination with days on feed on beef carcass characteristics, meat tenderness, and composition. Her first professional position was as Director of Research and Development for Monfort, Inc., where she developed over 300 new products.  She assisted in designing a new meat processing facility, implemented improvements for existing products, and developed of new national lines for refrigerated, vacuum-packaged, cooked-meat products, a national school-lunch cooked meat product line, new products for national foodservice customers, and a delicatessen product line. 

Miller has been a productive scientist and teacher within the Department of Animal Science since 1988.  She has developed a national and international reputation as a premier meat scientist for the beef and pork industry. Her program investigates pre and post-harvest factors impacting red meat quality.  She is known and respected nationally and internationally for her use of trained and consumer sensory evaluation techniques to improve the eating quality of beef and pork and other food products.  She has been a part of receiving over $25 million in external grants with over $5 million attributed directly to her program, has published over 150 scientific articles, 195 abstracts, 40 invited papers, 8 book chapters, and has trained 68 graduate student and 2 post-doctoral research associates.

Her pre-harvest research has emphasized mechanisms by which genetic and production factors affect beef and pork meat quality and palatability. Her accomplishments include assessments of meat tenderness, trained sensory evaluation, carcass yield and quality, and chemical composition for the Angleton and McGregor Gene Mapping Projects; work from these projects have been used to select beef cattle for improved beef eating quality. She worked to document the effect of Bos indicus sires on sensory and chemical attributes to assist in selecting sires to improve beef quality. She has worked with other researchers to understand the environmental and nutritional factors associated with beef production in Texas and their subsequent effect on beef quality.

Miller has worked collaboratively with Dr. Gordon Carstens in conducting research with the King Ranch and the ARI Corporation to address the relationships of residual feed intake, live animal performance, and animal temperament on carcass characteristics and meat palatability. Miller has worked with others to demonstrate reduction in Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 in feedlot cattle using sodium chlorate and nitro-compounds.  She has worked with instrumentation to assess pork value and has used ultrasound and elastography to identify composition and quality attributes of beef and pork carcasses. 

Miller was the meat scientist on the National Pork Board’s Production Systems Committee and Genetic Program Committee where she determined the procedures for the Quality Lean Growth Modeling Project, the Maternal Genetic Evaluation Project, the Efficiency of Lean Growth Production Project, the U.S. Pork Consumer Evaluation Project, the Japanese Consumer Evaluation Project, Alternate Systems for Swine Production, and the Pork Quality Benchmark Study.  She has served as a member of the Animal Science Committee.  In cooperation with Ohio State University, she completed the Pork Quality Consumer Benchmark study to assess for differences in pH, tenderness, marbling, and enhancement in pork.  She has worked to develop non-meat ingredients to improve beef and pork shelf-life, safety, and quality including sodium lactate, lactic acid, naturally derived tannin-based compounds and sorghum bran.  Her consumer research documented factors affecting beef customer satisfaction and determined consumer perceptions and value of beef tenderness. She developed the Beef Flavor Lexicon in conjunction with Kansas State University, helped validate the lexicon, and is currently conducting research to understand the effect of positive and negative beef flavor attributes on consumer acceptability. She is a primary author for the AMSA Sensory and Cookery Guidelines for Red Meat.

Currently, her work is examining the links between chemical components, volatile aromatic compounds, trained panel descriptive attributes and consumer acceptability.  Miller has expanded her use of statistical techniques to examine the aforementioned relationships.  She reaches out to other researchers to accomplish her goals and to learn new techniques to further her understanding. She works with the Human Behavior Laboratory at Texas A&M University to understand consumer emotions of beef and pork.

Miller has been an active member of AMSA serving on numerous committees and in multiple leadership roles. Miller was the recipient of the 1992 American Meat Science Achievement Award, the 2006 American Meat Science Teaching Award, the 2015 American Meat Science Research Award, and the 2016 American Society of Animal Science Meat Science Research Award.  She was a Director for the American Meat Science Association from 1998 to 2000 and served as President-elect, President, and Past President of the American Meat Science Association from 2017-2019. It was during her service on the Executive Committee of AMSA that she provided leadership and an instrument of change to strengthen AMSA and to provide a strong road-map for its future.  She has won several professional awards; has served on numerous professional committees; and she was honored as an AgriLife Faculty Fellow in 2017.

Wendy Feik Pinkerton

WFPinkertonWendy Feik Pinkerton is a nationally recognized science communicator, agricultural marketer, and public relations practitioner of animal agriculture, food, and other science-based subjects. For more than 30 years, she has effectively developed and launched programs—from farm to plate—to advance products and services to clients, customers and consumers.

Pinkerton is an agricultural producer at heart and by birth. She grew up on her family’s northern Illinois farm—Little Creek Farm—where they raised Duroc swine, Hereford and Simmental cattle, soybeans, corn and hay. She spent her summers and many school days with her brother Mark and sister Heidi showing cattle and pigs across the country. Her parents, Barb and Duke Feik, were proponents of their children’s interests, including 4-H, sports, speech contests, livestock judging and community volunteering.

With career interests in animal science and communications, Pinkerton attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communications, with emphasis in animal science and print media. Her interest in meat science was encouraged by a pair of academics—Drs. John Romans and Tom Car.

After graduation, she joined Drovers Journal staff as purebred editor for the then weekly livestock publication. There, Wendy met her future husband, Gary Pinkerton, who worked as the paper’s news editor. They married in 1984 and moved to Gainesville, Florida, the following year.

In Florida, her husband had a chance meeting with animal science faculty at the University of Florida, and he suggested that she seek out graduate school opportunities. With a U.S Department of Agriculture grant to produce a meat cookery and safety handbook, faculty invited her to begin her master’s degree work. Under the tutelage of Drs. Roger West, Dwain Johnson, Jim Lamkey and Fred Leak, Pinkerton completed her MS degree in meat science in 1989. That fall, she and her family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she joined the National Live Stock and Meat Board as Science Information Manager.

During her tenure at the Meat Board, Pinkerton led response teams addressing seminal industry issues, including E. coli O157:H7 and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). She served as a media spokesperson for research activities and issues concerning meat safety and as a coach and trainer to agricultural groups across the country for media interviews, issues management, and crisis communications.

When her son, Aaron, was born in 1994, she knew that the time was ideal to chase her dream of starting her own communications business. So, from late 1994 until 2005, she was the proprietor of Pinkerton Communications, which served the editorial and program management needs of national agribusiness companies and organizations. In 2005, she and four other women launched Demeter Communications, a full-service, customer-focused marketing communications firm. Pinkerton managed the business with one other senior partner and oversaw 15 associates to develop, deliver, and manage programs for food and agri-business companies and organizations across North America. In 2017, she stepped down as senior partner and founder to join Zoetis as Head of U.S. Industry Relations.

At Zoetis, Pinkerton works with her colleagues to ensure there remains choice related to animal health products, services, solutions and, subsequently, a robust future for Zoetis customers. She provides oversight and management for Zoetis membership and sponsorship of livestock and petcare industry organizations. She also directs internal communications to colleagues about regulatory, legislative, industry, and food chain issues.

In the expanse of her career, Pinkerton has prepared more than 5,000 students, professors and industry professionals for media interviews and presentations, participated in more than 80 media interviews, and made presentations at more than 150 agricultural meetings and events. She has also contributed to educational videos, newspaper and magazine stories.

Pinkerton is committed to the ideal of servant leadership and provides her time and skills to many organizations, including:

  • American Meat Science Association: Board member, 2007-09, Student Board Advisory, 2005-07; Membership committee chair, 2009-11; Reciprocal Meat Conference planning committee, 2015-17; AMSA Educational Foundation Trustee, 2015-18, Development Council Chair 2018-20; ICoMST, marketing chair, 2017-present;
  • Meat Business Women-USA: Advisory board, Vice Chair, 2020;
  • Animal Agriculture Alliance: Membership committee member, 2018-present;
  • National Agri-Marketing Association: Membership committee, Chair, 2016-18; Education Foundation Board member, 2018-2020; Chicago Chapter member; Workhorse of the Year Award, 2015-2016;
  • National Association of Farm Broadcasting: Board member, 2017-19.
  • She is a proud lifetime member of University of Illinois College of ACES Alumni Association and the University of Florida Alumni Association.

Pinkerton and her husband Gary live in Champaign, Illinois. Her husband is a recently retired middle school teacher. Their son, Aaron, works in the Chicago area with a sport foundation.

Social Media