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Animal Sciences Alumni Honored

Published: Friday, May 20, 2022

Seven alumni of the Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University received the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards on April 28 at a reception and dinner in the Purdue Memorial Union. Six 2020 recipients were also honored, since their awards were not presented due to pandemic restrictions.

The sole 2022 Early Career recipient is Nicole Roberts of Fishers, Ind. She earned a bachelor's degree in animal agribusiness in 2008 and a master's in ruminant nutrition in 2010, working with Shawn Donkin. Roberts has worked for Elanco Animal Health since graduation, she's now the Animal Health Pet Health associate brand manager. Roberts has been a liaison between the Purdue College of Agriculture and Elanco.

One of three Mid-Career recipients is Laurene Lonnemann of Greenfield, Ind. She earned a bachelor's degree in 2004 and a Certificate in Assisted Animal Therapy from Purdue in 2005. After attending the Midwest Poultry Consortium Center of Excellence in Madison, Wis., she was the manager of agricultural operations at the Historic Farm at Prophetstown, just north of Lafayette. She later worked at Harlan Sprague Dawley and FREIJE Treatment Systems Inc. In 2009, Lonnemann joined Elanco Animal Health as a sales representative, then became a brand manager and a project leader.

While working at Elanco, Lonnemann received her MBA in applied management from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2012. She's now the senior director of talent acquisition and diversity, equity and inclusion.

James Reecy of Ames, Iowa graduated from South Dakota State University in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in animal science. He earned a master's in ruminant nutrition from the University of Missouri in 1992, and received a PhD from Purdue in 1995. He is a professor and associate vice president for research at Iowa State University. He is involved in developing computational resources for livestock genomics. He has mentored eight PhD and 10 master's candidates and 37 undergraduate students in his lab. He also hosted 37 international professors, researchers and graduates at Iowa State.

A recent accolade was the Iowa State Interdisciplinary Team Research Award. He is the National Research Sponsored Program-8 (USDA) database coordinator.

Noel Williams of Iowa Falls, Iowa graduated from Angelo State University in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in animal science, and earned a master's degree in animal nutrition from Purdue in 1991. In 1995, he received a PhD in animal nutrition from Iowa State University. His primary research focus was swine nutrition. He started his career at Land O' Lakes as a swine nutrition manager, then was a technical service director for PIC in 2002. Seven years later he was general manager for PIC Americas.

In 2012, Williams joined Iowa Select Farms, where he is chief operating officer. During his tenure, Iowa Select Farms has increased its sow herd and remodeled its sow infrastructure.

Paul Brennan of West Lafayette is one of three Lifetime Career recipients. He graduated from Purdue in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in animal science. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration from St. Francis College in 1977. He has been involved in the poultry industry for more than 42 years. He served as president of the Indiana State Poultry Assn. from 1992 to 2020. That association is Indiana's official state agency for the USDA's National Poultry Improvement Plan.

Brennan has helped create numerous disease testing, control and biosecurity programs. In 2003, he initiated Indiana House Bill 1780 to enact changes in Indiana's environmental rulemaking boards. He brought several groups together to create the Poultry Health and Emergency Response Plan. He is affiliated with the American Egg Board, Indiana Turkey Market Development Council, National Chicken Council, National Poultry Improvement Plan, Poultry Science Assn. and others.

Kenneth Cummings of Stockton, N.J. received a master's and PhD in animal nutrition from Purdue University in 1965 and 1967, respectively. At Mississippi State and Colorado State universities, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses on animal nutrition, dairy management, and energy metabolism. He advised 100 undergraduates and 12 master's and two PhD candidates. He conducted dairy research and published several scientific and technical journals. He joined Church and Dwight in 1979 as director of research, and then Eastman Chemical Co. in 1982 as senior scientist and technical manager.

He returned to Church and Dwight from 1983-2006. He has been an adjunct professor for the animal sciences department at Rutgers University. Cummings is a life member of AFIA Nutrition's Council and Auction and Feed Industry Awards Committee.

Todd Winters of Martin, Tenn. graduated from Washington State University in 1983 with a bachelor's in animal biology. He earned a master's in reproduction physiology from Purdue in 1986. Winters received a PhD in endocrinology/reproductive physiology in 1992 from the University of Wisconsin. He completed postdoctoral research at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center from 1992-94. Winters was a faculty member and administrator at Southern Illinois University, College of Agricultural Sciences, for almost 19 years.

He now is the dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He recently led a fundraising effort that led to a donation of an $80 million horse farm to be used for the college.

Also, on April 28, the department saluted six alumni who received 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards. The celebratory dinner was not held due to pandemic restrictions.

The Early Career recipient is Amanda Minton of Bedford, Ind. who graduated in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in animal science. In 2009, she earned a master's in reproductive physiology from the University of Missouri. She is associate director of reproductive technology at The Maschhoffs. She has spoken at Midwest Animal Science meetings, and at industry events, such as Banff Pork Seminar, the Leman Conference and Magapor's International Technical Meeting.

There are three Mid-Career recipients:

• Jeff Leininger of Mishawaka graduated in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in animal agribusiness and later earned a master's degree in meat science and muscle biology. He is area business manager for Zoetis Inc. He previously worked as senior strategic account manager for He is Merck Animal Health from 1999 to 2020. He has been an invited speaker at Purdue and Michigan State University and has received the Merck Circle of Excellence Award multiple times.

• Penny Riggs of College Station, Texas received her bachelor's degree in biology in 1987 and a master's degree in animal science (cytogenetics) in 1991. She earned a PhD (interdisciplinary program in genetics) at Texas A&M University in 1996. Riggs is an associate vice president for research at Texas A&M. She is on the American Society of Animal Science Public Policy Committee, a member of the board of directors for the Texas Genetics Society and the International Stockmen's Educational Foundation. She received the Texas Genetics Society Distinguished Service Award in 2017 and the New Advisor of the Year Award in 2016.

• Jody Roth, of New Palestine, Ind. earned a master's degree in animal science (growth physiology.) She is vice president, regulatory and quality assurance, for Outpost Medicine, a member of Regulatory Affairs Professionals, the Project Management Institute, and a board member for Indianapolis Chapter of RAPs. Roth has been awarded the Lilly Presidents Award and a Marketing Excel Award in recent years.

One of the two Lifetime Career recipients is W. Mark Hilton of West Lafayette who graduated with a bachelor's degree in animal science and a doctor in veterinary medicine degree. He is a senior technical consultant at Elanco Animal Health and a former clinical professor in beef production medicine. He was named one of the most influential bovine veterinarians in North America by Bovine Veterinarian Medicine. He speaks to many Purdue classes each year.

David Nichols of Manhattan, Kan. graduated with a bachelor's degree in animal sciences in 1976, then earned master's and PhD degrees from Kansas State University. He is a teaching coordinator at Kansas State. Awards include the Wall of Fame at the Kansas State Fair, Wakonse Teaching Scholar, Dave Mugler Distinguished Ag Teaching Award, and KSU Mortar Board Outstanding Teaching Award. He has judged cattle at most state fairs in the Midwest.

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