Former Faculty Member and Two Alumni Honored at Alumni Awards Luncheon

The Department of Animal Sciences had three honorees at the 2018 CFAES Alumni Awards Luncheon, held on March 3, 2018. Former professor Michael Day, nominated by Dr. James Kinder, received the Meritorious Service Award. Ming-Tsao Chen, who earned his Ph.D. in Animal Sciences in 1977, received the International Alumni Award. His Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Herbert Ockerman, nominated him. Kevin Fath, who earned his B.S. in Animal Sciences in 2010, received the Young Professional Award. Linnae Fath nominated him. The event was held in the Grand Ballroom at the Fawcett Event Center.

Click on the names below to read more about each of our honorees:

 

Michael Day

Dr. Michael Day was born in Iowa, but raised in central Missouri. He earned his B.S. in Animal Husbandry from the University of Missouri and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Animal Science/Reproductive Dr. Michael Day

Endocrinology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He is currently the Chair of Animal Science at the University of Wyoming.

  • Family &/or background:

Married Toni Middleton in 1983, have two children: Travis Day is 25, with degrees in Agricultural Equipment Technology and Diesel Technology from the University of Northwestern Ohio. Travis lives in Ohio on a small farm and works for a large highway construction/paving company. Leslie Day is 22 and is a junior at the University of Missouri majoring in Biochemistry with an Animal Science minor, with aspirations to become a professor that teaches and does research in biomedical sciences.

  • How did you become interested in animal sciences?

My father was a professor of reproductive physiology at Mizzou in swine, so I am a second generation reproductive physiologist. I am the second of five children. We had a small farm growing up, and beef cattle were my primary interest from early on. I know I would be involved some aspect of the beef industry from relatively early in my childhood. The discipline of reproduction was my favorite in college, so I pursued advanced degrees after graduating from Mizzou.

  • What were your research areas?

Research areas include sexual maturation and development in beef heifers, factors that limit early embryonic development and pregnancy rate, and estrous synchronization and AI in beef cattle.

  • Are you still involved in higher education?

Yes, after 30 years in a teaching and research faculty position at OSU, I took my current position as Professor and Head, Department of Animal Science, University of Wyoming

  • How/why did you decide to come to Ohio State?

When I was finishing my Ph.D., a position for a professor in reproductive physiology and beef cattle production opened up at OSU. This was an ideal fit in a department with great resources for translational research in beef cattle reproduction, and an opportunity to teach beef cattle production. I took the position and clearly it was a good fit as I stayed 30 years.

  • What is your favorite memory related to Ohio State?

It is difficult to identify a single memory. However, my “favorites” were working with my graduate students, the professional and personal relationships that developed, seeing them develop as the next generation of reproductive physiologists, and seeing their success in subsequent careers and life.

  • What other honors and awards have you received?
    • 1999, Teaching Award, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, OSU
    • 2000, Teaching Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta, The Ohio State University
    • 2001, Advising Award, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, OSU
    • 2004, Research Award of Merit, Gamma Sigma Delta, The Ohio State University
    • 2004, Honorary Uncle, OSU Saddle and Sirloin Club, The Ohio State University
    • 2005, Epsilon Sigma Phi Team Teaching Award for Cow-Calf Schools, OSU
    • 2015, ASAS Animal Physiology and Endocrinology Award
  • Is there anything else you would like people to know?

Greatly enjoyed my time at OSU. The support over the years from personnel and organizations in the Department of Animal Science, the College of Agriculture, the OSU Beef and Sheep Center, The OARDC Eastern and Jackson Agricultural Research Centers, Select Sires Inc., the Extension Beef Team, my graduate students, undergraduates, international partners in Brazil, New Zealand and other countries, many others too numerous to mention, and of course my family was critical to the successes I had and in making OSU and Ohio a great place to build a career and raise a family.

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Ming-Tsao Chen

Dr. Ming-Tsao Chen

Dr. Ming-Tsao Chen is from Taiwan. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the National Chung-Hsing University. He earned his M.S. in Animal Science with a focus in meat science from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. Dr. Chen earned his Ph.D. in Animal Science, with a focus in meat science, under the supervision of Dr. Herbert Ockerman, from Ohio State in 1977. He is currently an emeritus professor at National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan.

  • Why did you select your graduate program?

Taiwan needed researchers specialized in Meat Science in the 1970s. I wanted to bring new technologies in this field back to Taiwan and accelerate the collaboration between Taiwan and the United States.

  • Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?

The Animal Science Department at Ohio State has a good reputation.

  • Were you a non-traditional student?

The financial situation of my family did not allow me to get a university degree right after I graduated from the high school. Thus, I attended a teaching college instead and taught in the elementary school for a few years before pursuing a bachelor's degree in National Chung-Hsing University.

  • Which class(es) did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?

Meat Science taught by Dr. Herbert W. Ockerman, Meat Processing taught by Dr. V. Cahill, Food Biochemistry taught by Dr. Deatherage

  • Which professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and why?

Prof. Herbert W. Ockerman has impacted my career significantly. He has been a great mentor. He cares about his students and is impressively knowledgeable. He helped me overcome the difficulties I encountered as an international student and has made me a better scientist. We have maintained a close relationship since my graduation. I always learn something new from him not only as a scientist but also as a person.

  • What positions/titles have you held since graduating and where have you worked?

1. Associate Professor, National Pingtung Institute of Agriculture Research, Taiwan, 1977-1980 2. Professor, National Pingtung Institute of Agriculture Research, Taiwan, 1980-1981 3. Professor, National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan, 1981-2001 4. Chairman of the Department of Animal Science, National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan, 1983-1989 5. Dean of the College of Agriculture, National Chung-Hsing University, Taiwan, 1997-1999 6. Professor and Dean of the Research and Development Office, Da-Yeh University, Taiwan, 2001-2012

  • What advice would you give to a current student?

Embrace your mistakes. These are the most valuable experience in your lives.

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Kevin Fath

Kevin Fath is from Wooster, Ohio. He earned his B.S. in Animal Sciences, with minors in agricultural and extension education and international economic and social development, from Ohio State in 2010. He has a M.S. in International Agricultural Development from Texas A&M University. He is currently an Agricultural Development Officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

  • Why did you choose to major in animal sciences?Kevin Fath

I wanted to develop a strong technical knowledge base in the area of the agricultural industry I was most passionate about and supplement that with minors that would allow me some career flexibility. Ohio State has a strong reputation for teaching and research in the animal sciences, which made the selection that much easier.

  • Why did you choose to attend The Ohio State University?

I was born and raised just outside of Wooster, Ohio. With the OARDC and OSU-ATI located there, I associated The Ohio State University with agriculture early on. I can't recall a singular decision factor, but I also can't remember ever seriously considering going elsewhere. When you're already a Buckeye and a reputable land-grant institution is just down the road in Columbus, it's kind of a no-brainer!

  • Did you transfer from one of the regional campuses? If so, why did you choose to start at a regional campus? Was the transition a difficult process?

I started at OSU-ATI for financial and convenience reasons, primarily. I could commute from home and that really kept costs down. My transition to main campus was not conventional, so this is a difficult question to answer because of the various factors associated with how that happened. I was a student at OSU-ATI when I deployed for the first time with my Army Reserve unit. When I returned from Iraq, I began classes at main campus. I remember Ohio State as an institution making it easy for me to transfer, though I did lose credit for some classes taken at ATI that I didn't anticipate.

  • Did you start as an Animal Sciences major? If not, where did you start and why did you make the switch?

I started with a major in Agricultural and Extension Education with an intent to become a high school agricultural educator. However, my interests changed toward Extension education and I wanted to deepen my knowledge and skills so that I could bring some level of specialization to the work. The Animal Sciences major seemed to provide that opportunity. After deploying to Iraq for the second time, my career interests turned toward international agriculture, but the need for a solid technical base remained relevant.

  • Were/are you a member of the military? Describe your military experience.

I enlisted in the Army Reserve a few days after Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March, 2003. I was a freshman taking classes at OSU-ATI at the time. I transitioned out of and back into school three times: once to attend initial entry training and then two more times deploying to Iraq in 2004 and 2008. I was honorably discharged in 2011 as a Staff Sergeant. I experienced two distinct phases of the Iraq war. My first deployment was generally more enemy-focused, whereas my tour in 2008 coincided with a strategy shift that was more civilian-focused. Because of the nature of my job in the military, during the 2008 deployment I interacted with federal civilian employees representing U.S. government agencies like the Department of State, the USDA, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) who were there to support efforts aimed at the social and economic issues contributing to the insurgency. This is where my interest in international agricultural development was piqued. I can attest that transitioning from war to a college campus is extremely challenging in ways that are difficult to describe. Fortunately, that isn't happening for as many students today as it was a few years ago, that is transitioning directly from combat to campus. I recall that Ohio State was in the process of standing up and bolstering programs for student veterans at the time and I really want to express gratitude for the continued emphasis on providing support for our veterans on campus.

  • How did your education at Ohio State influence your choice of career or your career path?

I think Ohio State's size is definitely one of its strengths and it helped me out a lot. I came back from my second deployment with a career interest very different from the one I left with. However, because of the way Ohio State and CFAES combines breadth and depth in so many academic areas, I was able to pick up the kind of courses I needed to be prepared to go in that new direction. The quality of the experiences and the things I learned in those classes really gave me confidence to continue in that new direction.

  • What activities were you involved in as an Ohio State student (student organizations, honoraries, campus jobs, Greek life, study abroad, etc.)?

I was a proud student driver for the Campus Area Bus Service (CABS) for over three years! You really get to know the campus and the diversity of its inhabitants driving those buses all hours of the day, that's for sure. I also enjoyed participating in the Agricultural Education Society and attending Saddle and Sirloin events.

  • Which class(es) did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State? Why?

Dr. Francis Fluharty (Animal Science) really knew the industry well and could explain both the science and the practice in ways that were accessible for students. Dr. M. Susie Whittington (ACEL) has more energy at 8:00 am than almost anyone I know at any point in the day. I really enjoyed her classes. Dr. Doug Southgate (AEDE) had a way of making economics material interesting and relevant.

  • Which professor, faculty or staff member had an impact on your education and why?

While majoring in Agricultural and Extension Education, my advisor was Dr. M. Susie Whittington. She was extremely supportive and made herself available. I have a lot of appreciation for the way she connected on a personal level and invested in her students. Dr. Tom Turner had the unenviable task of taking me on as an advisee when my academic and career interests were in flux. His support and flexibility helped me achieve my academic and ultimately professional goals down the line.

  • What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?

I can remember feelings more-so than individual events. What I remember feeling on the CFAES side of campus was a degree of togetherness and a sense of belonging. Of course I had a lot of friends there from 4-H and FFA, but there was a common thread that was easy to find with everyone. As a student veteran, it was the kind of safe haven I needed when dealing with the experiences of war while trying to figure out the Krebs cycle. Few people could relate to me on that level, but at least we had a passion for food and agriculture in common.

  • What advice would you give to a current student?

First, don't get off to a slow start academically. The older version of you would tell you the same thing. Second, fill your first two years with as many new experiences on campus as possible. There are career and personal interests you haven't even thought of that you will discover over the next few years, so get a head start. Third, make connections to the university through student organizations. It is a big place, but those little connections can still make it feel like home. Last, sit near the front of the room. It really improves the student to teacher ratio for you in that biology lecture and you'll pick up a lot more information.

  • What impacts did the Department of Animal Sciences have on your personal and professional life?

Some of the most challenging coursework I completed at Ohio State was to fulfill the requirements of the Animal Science major. The Army tested me physically and mentally, but the academic rigor in those classes really helped me learn what I was capable of in a scholastic sense. I think the confidence bred by that experience helped me perform well also in graduate school and ultimately now in my professional life.

  • What positions/titles have you held since graduating and where have you worked?

2011 - Graduate Research Assistant - Texas A&M University 2011 - Program Coordinator, Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, South Sudan 2012 - 2014: Agribusiness Advisor - Peace Corps, Jamaica 2014 - 2017: Agriculture Development Specialist - U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC 2018 - Present: Agricultural Development Officer (Foreign Service) - U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC

  • As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?

In 2015, I volunteered to serve for six months in Sierra Leone during the Ebola Virus Disease epidemic. During that time I had the honor and the challenge of engaging with the national government, the private sector, civil society, and farmers to inform and develop a strategy for our government's investment in the recovery of their agricultural sector and ultimately to improve food security. I was humbled by that experience and the resilience of Sierra Leonean people in the face of a uniquely horrifying national emergency. I learned a tremendous amount about my profession during that short period of time, but to have my fingerprints on programming that continues to improve lives through its implementation today is incredibly fulfilling.

  • Please share any awards or honors you have received over the years:

U.S. Army, 2003 - 2011: Army Commendation Medal (x2), Army Good Conduct Medal (x2), National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal (x2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and Combat Action Badge The Ohio State University, 2009 : John Glenn Fellow U.S. Agency for International Development: Presidential Management Fellow (2014), Meritorious Honor Individual Award (2016), Meritorious Honor Group Award (2016)

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