Hotel & Area Information


DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Denver

Room Block for ASA is now closed

3203 Quebec Street,Denver, CO 80207

Book by:July 23, 2023







Meet the Speakers 2022

Educational session at the DoubleTree

Alison Van Eenennaam, PhD
Cooperative Extension Specialist
University of California–Davis

Speaker Topic:  Genome Editing Opportunities


Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the field of animal genomics and biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California–Davis. She received a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and both an MS in animal science, and a PhD in Genetics from UCDavis. 


Her publicly funded research and outreach program focuses on the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems. Dr. Van Eenennaam’s current research projects include the development of genome editing approaches for cattle. She has given over 700 invited presentations to audiences globally, and uses a variety of media to inform general public audiences about science and technology. A passionate advocate of science, Dr. Van Eenennaam was the recipient of the CAST 2014 Borlaug and the ASAS 2019 Rockefeller Prentice Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics. Twitter: @BioBeef.

 Watch the presentation on Youtube.

Matt Lohr
Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry


Speaker Topic:  A Lasting Legacy



Matt Lohr was raised on a Virginia century family farm in the Shenandoah Valley. As a fifth-generation farmer, he has spent his entire life working for the betterment of agriculture. Lohr developed his passion for public service while serving as both a state and national FFA officer before graduating from Virginia Tech in 1995. He has more than 30 years of experience as a professional leader and communicator. 


Lohr served as chief of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency with more than 10,000 employees across 3,000 offices. He also previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates, as commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as director of the Farm Credit Knowledge Center. 


In addition to serving as secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Lohr along with his two children own and operate Valley Pike Farm, Inc., his family’s farming operation.



Dr. Vitor Mercadante
Virginia Tech

Speaker Topic: Advancements in Fixed-Time Artificial Insemination

Originally from Brazil, Vitor R. G. Mercadante comes from a family with a strong agricultural history. Dr. Mercadante has a DVM from São Paulo State University, and a MS and PhD degrees from the University of Florida, with an emphasis in strategies to improve fertility and reproductive efficiency of cattle. He joined Virginia Tech in the spring of 2016 and is currently an associate
professor and Extension specialist of beef production systems management in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences. In 2019 he also joined the faculty of the VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, in large animal clinical sciences as an affiliate assistant professor. His research and Extension program focus on bovine reproductive physiology, early embryonic development, reproductive biotechnologies, and management strategies to improve reproductive efficiency. He has secured over $3.2 million in research grants, and published 40 peer-reviewed
manuscripts, 106 scientific abstracts, 2 book chapters, and 56 extension articles and proceedings.


Dr. Troy Rowan
University of Tennessee

Speaker Topic: Laying the Groundwork for the Next Generation of Phenotyping, Genotyping, and Genomic Prediction

Dr. Troy Rowan is an assistant professor and state Extension specialist at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Genomics Center for the Advancement of Agriculture. He holds dual appointments in the Department of Animal Science and in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Large Animal Clinical Sciences Department. His research uses genomic and computational approaches to understand the biology that underlies a wide range of complex traits in beef cattle. He is particularly interested in local adaptation, heterosis, novel phenotype creation, and genomic approaches to increasing beef cattle sustainability. His work aims to deliver tangible solutions to US beef cattle producers while answering fundamental biological questions. Additionally, Dr. Rowan serves as the state Extension beef cattle genetics specialist, performing producer education and outreach in Tennessee and nationwide.



Barry Wesner
ASA Board chairman

Barry Wesner owns and operates Wesner Livestock Enterprises (WLE), a seedstock operation consisting of Simmental, SimAngus, and Angus located in Chalmers, Indiana. The father of three adult children, Wesner still relies on their advice in daily decisions of the operation: Courtney, an Extension agent in Virginia; Carly Riley, a farm wife, seed salesperson, and mother to Barry’s first grandchild, Reagan; and Bailey, a cosmetologist.

The team at WLE is proud of their accomplishments over the last 30-plus years, concentrating on producing performance-oriented cattle that can improve the bottom line for their customers. Wesner has served the ASA Board in a number of ways, including on the Executive, Activities & Events, and Policies & Procedures Committees. He also chaired an ad hoc committee that reviewed and revised the PTP Show Guidelines. Wesner is the chairman for the Junior Show at the Hoosier Beef Congress, and was inducted into the Indiana Livestock Breeders Hall of Fame in 2017.


Jackie Atkins, PhD
Jackie Atkins, PhD, director of Science and Education Operations, ASA; director of Operations, IGS

Jackie is a native of Mandan, North Dakota, and grew up working at her family’s veterinary clinic and commercial cow-calf operation. In 2002, she graduated with a BS in biotechnology from Montana State University. Atkins attended the University of Missouri, earning an MS and a PhD in animal science with an emphasis in reproductive physiology in beef cattle under Dr. Michael F. Smith. After graduate school, Jackie worked as an embryologist for Dr. Chuck Gue at Progenesis Embryo Transfer, based in Belgrade, Montana.
In 2013, Jackie joined the team at the American Simmental Association as the director of science and education, later adding managing editor, and now serves as the director of science and IGS operations. In her time with the ASA and IGS, Jackie has worked closely with research, data collection, and member education. Jackie has coordinated the Carcass Merit Program; helped in advancing DNA technology; promoted member education through articles, speaking engagements, and webinars; developed genomic research programs; coordinated other research projects; and provided leadership for the IGS genetic evaluation team and collaborators.

Randie Culbertson, PhD
lead geneticist, ASA/IGS

Speaker Topic: Genetic Selection for Feed Intake and RIF: The Pros and Cons

Dr. Randie Culbertson is a graduate of Colorado State University (CSU) where she earned her MS and PhD in animal breeding and genetics. She accepted the position as lead geneticist for International Genetic Solutions (IGS), replacing Dr. Lauren Hyde in November 2019.

Originally from New Mexico, Randie spent her childhood on the family’s cattle ranch located in the northern part of the state. She later attended New Mexico State University where she obtained a BS in animal science. While pursuing her graduate degrees, Randie’s research interests focused on addressing questions facing the beef industry. Her master’s research project examined the effect of the genetic potential for beef cattle milk production and the ability to remain in production with improved longevity (or stayability). In conjunction with her research, Randie was placed in charge of coordinating test schedules and data collection for CSU’s Feed Intake Unit. It was this work that led to her interest in feed intake as a trait and its application to the beef industry. As a result, her doctoral research focused on feed intake in beef cattle and specifically the implementation for genetic improvement.

In addition to her graduate work, Randie conducted several genetic evaluations for new and novel traits for breed associations and cattle producers. Some of the traits she worked on included heifer pregnancy, stayability, and a multi-trait analysis of pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP). At CSU, Culbertson managed and coordinated a USDA grant project examining late feedlot death in cattle. This project examined the effects of PAP on the performance and survivability of fed steers and began to answer some questions about this growing concern.

Since joining IGS, Randie has worked closely with the IGS science team to tackle the challenges of running the largest multi-breed genetic evaluations for beef cattle. Most recently, she has been involved in the development and validation of EPD for mature cow weight and feed intake.


Lane Giess
ASA director of Commercial and Nontraditional Data Programs

Speaker Topic: Soundness Traits: A Producer’s Guide for Scoring Feet and Legs

Lane Giess is a native of central Minnesota, where his family owns and operates a purebred and hybrid seedstock operation. Giess attended Kansas State University, earning a BS and MS in animal science. While working on his MS, Giess was involved in the Red Angus Association of America and American Simmental Association (ASA) joint-funded prototype evaluation and scoring system development for feet and leg traits in beef cattle. This project led to the development of Beef Improvement Federation guidelines for proper collection of feet and leg scores and has informed beef breed associations on the proper techniques and merit for developing producer guidelines for the collection of feet and leg scores.

Giess currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he is pursuing a PhD in animal breeding and genetics at Colorado State University. Giess is also the director of Commercial and Nontraditional Data Programs at ASA and focuses on developing member education and research programs for the collection of rare and meaningful data for ASA membership.


Wade Shafer, PhD
executive vice president, ASA

Speaker Topic:

Wade Shafer grew up in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, on Shoestring Ranch, a small Simmental, SimAngus, and Charolais seedstock operation. Shafer completed his bachelor’s degree in animal science at North Dakota State University, followed by a master’s and doctorate in animal breeding and genetics from Colorado State University (CSU).

While at CSU, Shafer did extensive work in the area of bio-economic simulation modeling. Following his formal education, he expanded Shoestring Ranch to more than 500 cows, with cooperator herds representing another 500 cows. The ranch sold up to 200 bulls annually.

After selling his cow herd, Shafer joined the Simmental team as the director of Breed Improvement for the American Simmental Association (ASA) in 2003; in 2011, he accepted the position of ASA’s chief operations officer. Shafer now serves as executive vice president of ASA.


Contact Us


Questions about Fall Focus?


Nancy Chesterfield at 406-587-2778
or Jackie Atkins at 406-587-4531

American Simmental Association

One Genetics Way
Bozeman, MT  59718

Past Fall Focus Syposiums


Fall Focus 2022

Written by | 04, Nov 2022

Fall Focus 2022

Co-hosted by the Virginia Simmental Association in Roanoke, Virginia


Fall Focus 2019

Written by | 17, Mar 2021

Fall Focus 2019

Co-hosted by the Kansas Simmental and the American Simmental Associations at the Hilton Garden Inn and Manhattan Conference Center, Manhattan, Kansas


Fall Focus 2018

Written by | 13, Jan 2021

 Co-sponsors by the Montana Simmental and American Simmental Association. Fall Focus 2018.  ASA Celebrates 50 years in Bozeman, MT.



Fall Focus 2017

Written by | 17, Dec 2021

Fall Focus 2017

Co-sponsored by North Dakota and American Simmental Associations at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck, ND.


Fall Focus 2015

Written by | 17, Nov 2020

Fall Focus 2015 


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