Fall Focus

Fall Focus 2022

Fall Focus 2022

Fall Focus 2022

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



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 an 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.

Watch the presentation on Youtube.




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.

Watch the presentation on Youtube.



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.

Watch the presentation on Youtube.