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Department of Animal Sciences


Dr. Lynn Willett: Recipient of the Dairy Science Hall of Service Award

July 19, 2012
Dr. Lynn Willett was honored Saturday, May 12, as a recipient of the Dairy Science Hall of Service Award for 2012. Dr. Lynn Willett received a Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science in 1966 from Colorado State University. He received a MS in Dairy Management in 1968 and a PhD in Animal Physiology in 1971, both degrees being from Purdue University. Following graduation, he was a National Aeronautical and Space Administration Fellow for two years at Purdue University and then became an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University in 1971. He progressed to the rank of Professor, was Associate Chair of the Department of Dairy Science from 1986 through 1994, and retired in 2005. In 1974, the largest chemical contamination incident in the United States occurred in Michigan with the accidental incorporation of polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) into livestock feed which was, subsequently, distributed throughout the State. Dr. Willett’s research results played a major role in the procedures for cleanup, risk assessment, and regulations regarding this issue and for establishing the regulatory tolerances for PBB in milk and meat. In early 1982, the second biggest chemical contamination incident in US history occurred in Hawaii when every dairy production unit, except one, was found to have concentrations of the pesticide, Heptachlor, in the milk fat. Dr. Willett worked with regulators, dairy industry representatives, and legislators to bring the volatile situation under control. Later in the same year, Region V of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed that all dairy and livestock farms with feed storage silos containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) be listed as 'Hazardous Waste Sites', requiring a contained cleanup with all waste removed. Drs. Willett and Ting- Ting Lieu conducted research and the findings resulted in the EPA rescinding the order. In 1993, Dr. Willett published a paper in the Journal of Dairy Science that described the transfer of soil borne organohalogen compounds to the plant canopy by volatilization. This work discredited the long-standing theories of translocation of these residues through the root and vascular system of forage plants. Whereas this research had only moderate impact in the Midwest, it resulted in significant impact in the southern and southwestern sections of the US where large tracts of land were switched from cotton production to forages for cattle. These and other scientific endeavors by Dr. Willett provide evidence of his impact on the Ohio and US dairy industry. In addition to the research that he has conducted on the kinetics and toxicity of environmental chemicals on food-producing animals, he has conducted research on carbohydrate utilization in newborn dairy calves. Dr. Willett has authored or co-authored 122 peer-reviewed publications or abstracts and over 66 popular press and Extension articles. He has advised seven MS and PhD students and has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Dairy Science, Journal of Animal Science, and the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Throughout the years, the research and scientific exchange by Dr. Willett have helped numerous farmers and agricultural industries to resolve chemical residue problems. The recognition provided as a recipient of the Dairy Science Hall of Service Award acknowledges his many contributions to the Ohio and US dairy industry and to the scientific literature on the kinetics and toxicity of environmental chemicals to food-producing animals. Photos: