Since 2013, the Walton-Berry Graduate Student Support Grant has aided graduate education with an emphasis on genetic improvement of livestock. Six years later, the grant continues to support the progress of livestock research.
The two 2019 grant recipients are Dr. Hao Cheng, University of California, and Dr. Jared Decker, University of Missouri.
Dr. Hao Cheng and his graduate student, Ms. Tianjing Zhao, plan to use the funds to build a fast parallel genomic prediction tool. The project will test the accuracy of the prediction tool to increase the computation speed of genomic prediction using Julia programming language and block-wise linkage disequilibrium structures. With an ever-growing pool of genotyped animals entering into the genetic evaluation, continued emphasis on faster computational methods is vital to continued improvements in genomic evaluation.
Dr. Jared Decker, University of Missouri, will use the funds to support a research study abroad for graduate student Mr. Troy Rowan. Rowan will spend a semester conducting research at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute in Scotland with Dr. John Hickey. While abroad, Rowan plans to attend a Ph.D. short course at the University of Wageningen, visit the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, and present research results at an upcoming conference. Rowan plans to study the genomic signatures of selection that can be applied to population genetics and breeding programs using simulation models.
The fund originally started by Jim Berry of Wildberry Farms honors Dr. Bob Walton’s lifelong efforts in animal breeding and raising Simmental cattle. This grant aims to help train future animal breeders and advance our knowledge of applied livestock genetics offering up to two grants per year (at a $3,000 and $5,000 level).
2013 – Drs. Jennifer Bormann, Bob Weaber, Dan Moser, and Mike MacNeil from Kansas State University. Funds used to support graduate student stipend and living expenses for a collaborative research project in quantitative and molecular genetics in beef cattle at the US Meat Animal Research Center.
2014 – Dr. Jennifer Thomson, Montana State University. Funds used to study the genetics and objective measurements of temperament in beef cattle.
2014 – Dr. Stephanie McKay, The University of Vermont. Funds used to characterize the brain methylome in steers with extreme measures of docility
2015 – Dr. Heather Huson, Cornell University. Funds used to study the genetics of digital Cushion Thickness and pay travel expenses for a graduate student to present research findings at an international conference in Sweden.
2015 – Dr. Megan Rolfe, Oklahoma State University. Funds used to analyze genetic links to water intake in beef cattle.
2016 – Dr. Jerry Taylor, University of Missouri. Funds used to identify potentially lethal haplotypes in beef cattle.
2017 – Dr. Jared Decker, University of Missouri. Funds used for graduate student travel to Beef Improvement Federation meetings and develop extension publications.
2017 – Drs. Scott Speidel, Milton Thomas, and R. Mark Enns, Colorado State University. Funds used to investigate stayability genetic predictions using endpoints beyond 6 years of age.
2018 – Dr. Jason Ahola, Colorado State University. Funds used to study beef cow mature size across varying environments.
2018 – Dr. Lauren Hanna, North Dakota State University. Funds used to characterize efficiency traits in the commercial beef cow herd.