Fall Focus

Fall Focus 2017

Fall Focus 2017

Fall Focus 2017

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

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Click here for Fall Focus 2017 Meeting Brochure for schedules, speaker bios, and agenda.      Schedule/Brochure


Welcome Message:  Brian DeFreese, Chairman and Bill McDonald, Past Chairman


Greg Lardy, Ph. D., Animal Science Department Chair, North Dakota State University

Dr. Greg Lardy was raised on a farm and ranch near Sentinel Butte, North Dakota. He received his B.S. degree from North Dakota State University, his M.S. from the University of Missouri, and his Ph.D. in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska. He joined the faculty at North Dakota State University in 1997. Since 2009, he has served as department head in Animal Sciences providing leadership for over 60 faculty and staff. Since 2015, he has served as Associate Vice President for Agricultural Affairs at NDSU while continuing to maintain his department head duties. In 2013-2014, Dr. Lardy also served as president of the American Society of Animal Science, a scientific society with approximately 6,000 members. 

Presentation PDF

Lauren Hanna, Ph. D. Assistant Professor, Genetic Improvement of Livestock North Dakota State University

Dr. Lauren Hanna is an Assistant Professor focusing on genetic improvement in livestock at the North Dakota State University Department of Animal Sciences since June of 2013. She is from Navasota, a small town about 25 miles south of College Station, Texas. Lauren was active in 4-H and FFA while growing up in Navasota, including raising and showing pigs for county and state fairs. After high school, Lauren attended Texas A&M University in College Station for her bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees. Her bachelor’s degree focused on Animal Science, with an emphasis on science curriculum and a minor in business. She then focused on animal breeding and genetics for her graduate studies, particularly research in quantitative genetics with beef cattle. Lauren teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to animal breeding and genetics and research design and statistical analyses in the animal sciences. She also conducts research, currently on identifying data collection methods that are effective for difficult-to-collect traits (e.g., temperament, longevity, etc.) and how different methods may impact genetic association results and evaluations of merit.

Presentation PDF

Rick Funston, Ph. D., West Central Research & Extension Center, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Dr. Funston is a professor and Reproductive Physiologist at the University of Nebraska. He received his BS from North Dakota State University, MS from Montana State University, his Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming, and completed a Post Doc at Colorado State University in Reproduction/Biotechnology. He divides his time between extension and research. His research on lighter heifer development is receiving national attention/adoption; research on fetal programming effects on postnatal calf performance including carcass characteristics and reproduction has received national and international recognition; and he is a team member of nationally recognized beef systems research. In the extension capacity, he provides leadership and subject matter expertise for educational programs in cow-calf production management for the West Central District and statewide expertise in beef reproductive management programs. 

Presentation PDF

Bill Zimmerman, Regional Representative Manager, American Simmental Association

Bill Zimmerman is responsible for scheduling and coordination of ASA representation at member sales and events, state association sponsored meetings and events, and other requests for ASA presence at state and regional cattle industry events. Prior to coming to ASA in 2013, Bill spent nearly 20 years as an extension educator in Utah, Nevada, Minnesota and Poland. In addition to his extension career, he worked as an elementary classroom teacher, and coordinated multi-district high school career education programs. His recent efforts in the beef industry include planning and conducting national conferences on beef quality, work as a cattle genetics specialist/regional sales manager, and free-lance writing focused on genomics and feed efficiency in beef cattle. Bill earned undergraduate degrees from Arizona State University and Utah State University, a Masters in Animal Breeding from Utah State, and an MBA from St. Cloud State University. Bill likes to tell the story that his start with ASA came while managing a fledgling seedstock operation in Idaho, and purchasing two potloads of bred percentage Simmental cows from baseball great, Harmon Killebrew, all branded “KS” – Killebrew Simmentals. A highlight of those early years was a trip with his young family to West Yellowstone for the ASA Summer Conference in 1976. Bill, and his wife, Penny, are active in beef industry service. He recently served as a Regional Vice President on the NCBA Executive Committee, a member of the AICA (Charolais) breed improvement committee, and currently is on the GENEX board of directors. Penny is the 2017 President of the American National CattleWomen (ANCW). Zimmermans raise Simmental and Charolais seedstock on their “One Penny Ranch” near Foley, Minnesota. They have four grown children and twenty-one grandchildren.


Chip Kemp, American Simmental Association, Director of Membership and Industry Operations

Chip Kemp, graduated from the University of Missouri (MU) with a Masters of Science in Animal Science in 2001. While at MU, Chip coached livestock judging teams alongside various teaching responsibilities, including the coordination of the Animal Science Internship Program. During his tenure at MU, Kemp was the recipient of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Livestock Leadership Award, the University’s CAFNR Outstanding Advisor Award, and the Outstanding Educator Award. As Director of Member and Industry Relations for ASA, Kemp works within public relations to support and promote ASA membership services, assists in programs designed to educate and encourage the integration of technology, as well as working with ASA Progress Through Performance program.

Presentation PDF

Lauren Hyde, Ph.D., Lead Geneticist, International Genetic Solutions

Lauren Hyde earned a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from the University of Colorado in 1981; and, several years later she returned to the university system to pursue a Master’s of Science and a Ph.D. in animal breeding from Colorado State University (CSU), graduating in 2000.

During her graduate studies, Hyde worked as a research assistant at CSU’s Center for Genetic Evaluation of Livestock (CGEL). Her experience at CGEL running national cattle evaluations positioned her for roles as Director of Performance Programs at the North American Limousin Foundation, Genetic Evaluation Specialist at the American Simmental Association (ASA) and currently as Lead Geneticist at International Genetic Solutions (IGS). As one of the members of the ASA/IGS genetic evaluation team, Lauren has helped develop and implement multi-breed calving ease and genomically enhanced EPDs and is currently assisting in the development and testing of a state-of-the-art genetic evaluation computer system.

Dr. Hyde is very active in the beef industry, having served as a reviewer for the Journal of Animal Science, as chair of a cooperative extension research group on national beef cattle genetic evaluation, and as a board member of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF). In 2013, Hyde received the BIF Continuing Service Award in recognition for her significant contributions.

Presentation PDF

Mahdi Saatchi, Ph.D., Lead Genomicist, International Genetic Solutions

Mahdi Saatchi, who holds a B.S. degree in Animal Science, an M.S. degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics, and a Ph.D. in Animal Breeding and Genetics, joined the American Simmental Association (ASA) staff as Lead Genomicist for the International Genetics Solutions (IGS) program. IGS is a collaborative effort focusing on multi-breed genetic evaluation involving 12 different beef breed associations. During a three-and-a-half year period spanning 2010 to 2014, he studied and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Iowa State University (ISU). While at ISU, he developed and implemented genomic selection technology into genetic evaluations for several US beef cattle breed associations, including Simmental, Hereford, Red Angus, Gelbvieh and Limousin in collaboration with the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium. 

Dr. Saatchi joined the ASA team and began his duties on January 1, 2016. The previous 18 months, he had been employed as a genomic research scientist for the Pork Improvement Company (PIC), located at Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Presentation PDF

Matt Spangler, Ph. D., Associate Professor of Animal Science/Extension Beef Genetics Specialist, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Matt Spangler grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in Kansas. He received degrees from Kansas State University (BS; 2001), Iowa State University (MS; 2003), and the University of Georgia (Ph.D.; 2006) and is currently an Associate Professor and Extension Beef Genetics Specialist at the University of Nebraska. He works as part of a team with colleagues at UNL and US MARC to improve genetic/genomic selection tools and methods.

Presentation PDF

Mitch Abrahamsen, Ph. D., Past Vice President Research and Development

Until recently, Dr. Abrahamsen was the Senior Vice President Research and Development for Cobb-Vantress, where he led the company’s research and development effort, and global internal and external strategic programs for bringing innovation and new technologies to the poultry industry. He has held faculty positions at Montana State Un at the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle WA. Prior to Cobb-Vantress, he served as Vice President of Research for Hill’s Pet Nutrition for Colgate-Palmolive Co.  Dr. Abrahamsen currently serves on the board of directors for Recombinetics in the United States, Genome Prairie, a Canadian not for profit organization that supports research in agricultural genomics and related biosciences, and previously with Breed 4 Food, a Netherlands-based private/public partnership focused on multispecies issues facing the breeding industries.

Presentation PDF


American Simmental Association Headquarters:    One Genetics Way, Bozeman, MT 59718

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Wade & Merri Staigle  Roger Finke  Quissell's A.I. Service