The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) is pleased to announce the participants in the 2018-19 Beef Researcher Mentorship program. Following an open application process, four researchers have been selected. Each has been paired with notable leaders in the Canadian beef industry and given a travel budget for the coming year, which will provide valuable opportunities for greater engagement with Canada’s beef industry.

Mentee: Dr. Jill Bainard
Mentors: Duane Thompson and Sarah Sommerfeld

Dr. Jillian Bainard is a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Swift Current Research and Development Centre (SCRDC). As a Forage Ecophysiologist, Jillian’s research involves studying forage crops and the interface between plants and their environment. She works with forage breeders, ecologists, and animal scientists to develop forages that are beneficial nutritionally, environmentally, and economically. Jillian completed her PhD in Botany at the University of Guelph in 2011, followed by a postdoc at SCRDC where she studied the use of annual forage polycultures.

Duane Thompson graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1997 with a Diploma in Agriculture. Together with his wife Paula, he now owns and operates Tee Two Land and Cattle Co, along with their four children and several employees. The operation has always been a mixed operation of cows, feedlot, forages, grains, pulses and oilseeds. The forages are rotated over half of the land base of 9000 acres. Duane has found that density grazing large herds has been a remarkable adventure; the ability to grow a great deal of forages, get exceptional animal performance and have ever increasing organic matter is thrilling to him. The main goal of their operation is to build a profitable, sustainable business that provides a desirable lifestyle for all involved.

Sarah Sommerfeld is an Agri-Environmental Specialist for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Science degree with Distinction, from the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan in 2002. Sarah began with the Ministry of Agriculture in September of 2005. Sarah provides clients with information on agri-environmental best management practices and assists in adoption of these management practices. Sarah along with her husband and two daughters operate a mixed farm in the Outlook, SK area.

Mentee: Dr. Diego Moya
Mentors: Tamara Carter and Ryder Lee

Dr. Diego Moya is a veterinarian with over 10 years of experience in animal science, including a MSc and PhD in animal nutrition, and a postdoc on animal behaviour and welfare. Through his schooling, Diego gained extensive laboratory and field research experience on multi-disciplinary aspects of livestock production systems, including nutritional strategies to improve animal health and productivity, and the assessment of pain and acute and chronic stress to enhance animal well-being. Dr. Moya became an Assistant Professor in Beef Cattle and Welfare at the University of Saskatchewan in 2018, with a particular interest in the development of nutritional and management strategies to optimize the balance between animal care and environmental and economic sustainability. He is also interested in the impact of common husbandry practices as well as new management strategies on acute and chronic stress, exploring the potential of the gut-microbiome-brain axis regulation in farm animal health, the long-term impact of early-life management on animal health, welfare and productivity, and the use of precision livestock farming technologies to measure and manage yield variability at the individual level.

Tamara Carter, her husband Russ and their three children run a mixed farming operation along the South Saskatchewan River near Lacadena, SK. They crop just under 6,000 acres and run 150 head of commercial Black Angus cattle on 6,000 acres of native prairie. A former Calgary resident and University of Calgary Alumni, Tamara was transplanted by marriage to Saskatchewan in 1993. She embraced rural life and the challenges of both farming and ranching with enthusiasm as she became part of an operation that has spanned three generations. After 25 years of constant learning within the agriculture industry, her perspective continues to be one of curiosity and excitement. Her interest in forages and research led her to the Saskatchewan Forage Council, which she is currently chairing for a second term.

Ryder Lee joined the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) in 2015 after working for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) in Ottawa for over nine years. During that time, he worked on the lobbying front, animal care, domestic policy and with the provincial member organizations of the CCA. Ryder represented the CCA on the National Farm Animal Care Council before being elected Chair in 2014. Prior to CCA Ryder worked for Dow AgroSciences in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and southern Ontario. A University of Saskatchewan Animal Science graduate, Ryder hails from Fir Mountain, SK, where his brother runs the family ranch. As the CEO of SCA, Ryder is responsible for leading SCA staff as they work on behalf of beef cattle producers to strategically address the policy, production, communication, promotion, legal, and financial issues that will help to strengthen the beef industry in Saskatchewan.

Mentee: Dr. Dongyan Niu
Mentors: Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky and Mark Klassen

Dr. Dongyan Niu is an Assistant Professor of food safety in Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. The overall goal of her research is to advance food safety from farm to fork by precisely understanding emergence and persistence of zoonotic pathogens as well as to develop innovative strategies to minimize food safety risk and enhance animal and public health.

Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky is a rancher, beef cattle veterinarian and researcher at Veterinary Agri-Health Services in Airdrie, AB. Elizabeth was born and raised in southern Ohio where she was actively involved in her family’s commercial cow-calf operation and exhibited beef cattle through 4-H. Elizabeth’s interest in food animal production led her to the Ohio State University where she completed a BSc in Animal Science with Honors and Research Distinction in 2008 and was honored as an All American for Intercollegiate Livestock Judging. She went on to complete a DVM in 2012 and subsequently practiced as a beef cattle veterinarian in western Iowa for one year. In 2013, Elizabeth was accepted into the University of Calgary as the inaugural Simpson Ranch Fellow in Beef Cattle Health. During the three-year fellowship, she completed a MSc and Clinical Residency in beef production medicine and was inducted into the Canadian Cattlemen’s Young Leader program. Elizabeth completed several rotations for her residency at Veterinary Agri-Health Services in Airdrie, AB and officially joined the team as an associate veterinarian in October 2016. She has since become a board-certified specialist in beef cattle practice and is honored to be a Diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Elizabeth has a strong interest in cow-calf and feedlot production medicine and consulting, as well as, applied research. Elizabeth also owns and operates a Red Simm-Angus commercial cow-calf operation.

Mark Klassen is the Director of Technical Services for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association where he provides technical expertise related to market intelligence and technical marketing programs as well as policy analysis and management of research projects in the areas of international trade, food safety, beef quality, and production enhancing technology.

Mentee: Dr. Gabriel Riberio
Mentors: Bryan Thiessen and Dirk Burken  

Dr. Gabriel Ribeiro comes from a family of beef and dairy farmers in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. He obtained a Veterinary Medicine degree, and a MSc. and Ph.D. (with distinction) in Animal Science (ruminant nutrition) from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil. During his Ph.D., he undertook a year of study at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre, working with Dr. Tim McAllister. Upon completion of his Ph.D. he went back to the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre to continue working as a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ribeiro accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Production Animal Nutrition in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. His research focuses on strategies to improve beef cattle production, reduce its effects on the environment, and increase profitability. Currently he is working on a variety of projects that aim to optimize grain and forage processing technologies, with the aim of improving rumen health, feed efficiency, and beef cattle productivity; and projects that aims to develop feed additives that can reduce rumen methane emissions.

Bryan Theisen is an owner/operator of Namaka Farms Inc., a feedlot and farming operation located in Strathmore, AB and Outlook, SK. Bryan is a past chair of the Beef Cattle Research Council. Bryan has also spent time as a board member for the Alberta Beef Producers and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Dirk Burken is a feedlot nutritionist with Allied Marketing Group Inc., a group of feedlot owners that operate 14 feedlots in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Dirk has been employed with the group for 3.5 years and lives in Coaldale, AB with his wife Amanda and two daughters, Tynsleigh and Morgan. Dirk is originally from Nebraska and received his BS in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska, a MS in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University, and a PhD in Animal Science Ruminant Nutrition from the University of Nebraska. His dissertation was in researching ways of feeding corn silage in modern feedlot diets with distillers grains.

The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program provides upcoming and new applied researchers with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the needs of the beef industry in practical and meaningful ways. Participants are paired with innovative cattle producers and other industry professionals for a one year mentorship along with a travel budget to attend industry meetings, producer workshops, and farm tours. The program complements similar programs in existence but for which some researchers may not be eligible. Funding is made available in part through the technology transfer initiative within the Beef Science Cluster.

Learn more about the Beef Researcher Mentorship program, including highlights from past participants, at

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