Dr. Daniel Clark’s interest in meat science has shaped his research interests. His research in meat science and muscle biology will have health impacts for livestock and poultry, as well as economic impacts for producers and consumers.
Dr. Clark grew up in Oblong, Illinois, a small town in Southern Illinois. His interest in animal sciences began while showing cattle in 4-H and FFA. While an undergraduate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he was a member of the Meat Judging and Meat Animal Evaluation Teams. It was during this period his interest in meat science and research began to take shape. “I worked as an undergraduate in both a Reproductive Endocrinology Lab and the Meat Science Lab which is what sparked my interest in research,” said Dr. Clark.
All of Dr. Clark’s degrees in Animal Sciences (B.A., M.S., Ph.D.) were earned at the University of Illinois. While earning his Ph.D. (in 2010 and 2011), he coached the Meat Judging Team and co-coached the Meat Animal Evaluation Team. During his graduate education, his research was focused on meat science and muscle biology of pork and beef.
In 2014, after earning his Ph.D., Dr. Clark joined The Ohio State University. He began a Postdoctoral Research program with Dr. Sandy Velleman. During this period, his research shifted to poultry science. In 2016, Dr. Clark became an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.
Dr. Clark’s research continues to focus on meat science and muscle biology in livestock and poultry. He is currently working to improve muscle growth and meat quality in both chickens and turkeys. Dr. Clark is working closely with Dr. Velleman on a poultry muscle defect called Wooden Breast. “Myopathies like wooden breast cost the industry over 200 million dollars annually due to product loss, reduced meat quality and decreased processing yields. Our primary research objective is to understand the etiological basis of wooden breast and develop mitigation strategies to reduce its severity and incidence,” said Dr. Clark. He also has an interest in swine, and is currently working with Drs. Eric England and Sheila Jacobi on identifying the effects of nutrition and genetics on muscle growth and meat quality.
Drs. Clark and Velleman recently published a paper showing how thermal manipulation can improve muscle morphology in broilers. This method may be a viable strategy to reduce the incidence and severity of myopathies like wooden breast. They also won an internal Foods For Health (FFH) Seeds grant to research how selection for increased growth in turkeys have altered serum metabolites. “This particular project will give us an understanding of how selection for fast growing turkeys impact nutrient uptake, muscle metabolism and other metabolism-based changes. The changes in these systems may be related to the reduction in meat quality that has been identified in fast growing turkeys,” said Dr. Clark.
When Dr. Clark isn’t conducting research or teaching courses (he co-teaches Introductory Meat Science with Dr. Lyda Garcia), he spends time with his wife Diana, a Meat Scientist with Certified Angus Beef. The couple are expecting their first child in January.
Dr. Daniel Clark’s interest in meat science began as an undergraduate student. His research in meat science and muscle biology, to improve muscle growth and meat quality, will have economic impacts for both producers and consumers.