Researcher Mentorship Program


Beef Researcher Mentorship Program

Engaging researchers who study cattle, beef, genetics, feed or forage production with the Canadian beef cattle industry is mutually beneficial; it allows researchers to be better informed of industry needs and more likely to share their findings with a practical, solution-based focus. Facilitating and encouraging their attendance to industry events and networking with industry professionals, especially for new beef researchers from non-Canadian agriculture backgrounds, is extremely valuable.

The Beef Researcher Mentorship Program is an initiative to facilitate greater engagement of upcoming and new applied researchers with Canada’s beef industry. It provides researchers with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the needs of the beef industry in a practical and meaningful way. The program is designed to:

      • align research interests with those that are practical and beneficial to Canada’s beef industry,
      • build the skills, network and confidence necessary to participate in or lead applied research and technology transfer efforts that enhance and accelerate innovation in Canada’s beef industry, and
      • facilitate collaborations that help new Canadian beef researchers establish effective applied research and extension programs.

Participants are given a travel budget and paired with innovative cattle producers or other industry professionals for a one year mentorship (August 1 - July 31). Mentors help the researchers build their knowledge, skills and network through ongoing discussions and by initiating various introductions, tours and meetings. The mentors are valuable resources of information about day-to-day cattle and forage production, industry structure and influences, and perspectives on industry challenges and opportunities at regional and national levels.

The program complements similar programs in existence but for which some researchers may not be eligible. 

The BCRC announced the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program in August 2014. Funding is made available through the technology transfer initiative within the second Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster.


The deadline to apply each year is May 1. 

Download the Application Form (PDF). Note: This document contains forms. The filling of form fields is not supported in some web browsers so the file may need to be opened in Adobe software.

2017-18 Participants

Mika Asai Coakwell, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Animal Genetics at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research interests are in beef cattle genetics, particularly in muscle and bone growth and development. Her mentors are Lance Leachman, who operates Big Gully Farm a registered Hereford and Angus operation near Maidstone SK, Ryan Beierback, a rancher from Whitewood Saskatchewan, and Michael Latimer, Executive Director for the Canadian Beef Breeds Council. 

Robert Gruninger Ph.D. is a Research Biologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge Research and Development Centre,  The focus of Dr. Gruninger’s research is to apply a combination of “-omics” based techniques and protein biochemistry to better understand the microbiology of ruminant microbes and the role that the rumen microbiome plays in determining the efficiency of lignocellulose degradation in the rumen. His mentors are Larry and Justin Helland who own a farming, ranch, and feedlot enterprise in near Lomond AB, and Darryl Gibb, a Beef Nutrition Consultant at Gowans Feed Consulting.

Stacy Singer Ph.D. is a research scientist (forage biotechnologist) with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research and Development Centre where her research program presently focuses upon the development of advanced breeding tools and ‘clean’ biotechnological platforms, which do not produce foreign proteins, for the improvement of various performance- and quality-related traits in forage crops. Her mentors are Graeme Finn, a beef producer near Madden AB, and Gord Card, owner and operator of Sunshine Seeds, a seed retailer near Magrath AB. 

2016-17 Participants

Getahun Legesse, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at the University of Manitoba. He is currently working on a collaborative project that aims to define the environmental footprint of Canadian beef. His mentors are Charlie Christie, a farmer and rancher near Trochu Alberta, and Brenna Grant, Manager of Canfax Research Services. 


"It is one thing to know about beef production systems from publications, scientific meetings and short visits. It's another, however, to sit with the beef producers and learn why they do things the way they do. The BCRC Mentorship Program has offered me invaluable opportunities to meet with beef producers as well as other stakeholders and thereby gain practical knowledge not only regarding cattle management practices but also regarding policies and regulations that affect the production, transportation, marketing and processing of cattle and their products." - Dr. Getahun Legesse

Jessica Gordon D.V.M., D.V.Sc, is an assistant professor in ruminant Health Management in the Department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College. There she focuses her teaching on beef cattle health and management. She hopes to continue applied research in cow-calf and feedlot medicine, expanding into other areas such as disease prevalence and prevention and causes of lameness. Her mentors are Joe Hill, a feedlot owner in Wellington County, Ontario, Dr. Calvin Booker, a veterinarian and Managing Partner at Feedlot Health Management services, and Dr. Peter Kotzeff, a veterinarian and producer from Bruce County Ontario.

"The BCRC Mentorship program has benefited me in many ways, particularly in allowing to connect more meaningfully with producers.  Through conversations with my mentors, I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of the beef industry and enhanced my ability to communicate with industry players.  The ability to attend industry meetings has allowed me to network with a larger number of producers to help ensure that my research program will benefit the industry now and in the future." - Dr. Jessica Gordon

Kateryn Rochon, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Manitoba, where her research program is focused on arthropods as vectors of both livestock and wildlife pathogens, with a current emphasis on tick distribution and ecology. Her Mentors are Tim Oleksyn who farms and ranches near Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, and Karin Schmid Beef Production Specialist for the Alberta Beef Producers.

"The BCRC’s Researcher Mentorship Program has given me the resources to travel and meet producers and veterinarians, and link with the movers and shakers at different levels in the industry. This has allowed me to discuss the challenges they face, and their motivations to address those challenges in different ways. Halfway through the program, I already feel like I am part of the industry, and the program is helping me define my role within it.” - Dr. Kateryn Rochon 

Marjolaine Rousseau, DMV, is currently an Assistant Professor of Bovine Ambulatory Medicine at the University of Montreal.She became certified specialist of large animal surgery by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2016  She is currently involved as a co-investigator in a research project to evaluate the use of a new disinfectant as a footbath to control digital dermatitis. Her mentors are Jacques Desrosiers, a feedlot owner in Saint-Hermas Québec, Steve Eby who owns and operates a feedlot, grazing and crop operation in Kincardine, Ontario, and Dr. Rémi Laplante veterinary advisor for Les Producteurs de bovins du Québec.

Click here to learn more about the 2016-17 participants and their mentors. 

2015-16 Participants

Angela Canovas, PhD is currently an Assistant Professor of Beef Cattle and Small Ruminant Genomics at University of Guelph. Her future plans are to expand her scientific research program to the field of animal systems biology combining statistical genomics and bioinformatics with further functional validation of regulatory target genes. Her mentors are Mike McMorris, General Manager of BIO, and Daniel Doerksen, a cow-calf producer near Gem, Alberta.

Argenis Rodas-Gonzalez, PhD is an assistant professor in Meat Science and Food Safety at the University of Manitoba. His research is focused on the evaluation of meat composition and quality, with special interest in the factors that determine meat shelf life and palatability, and application of novel technologies in order to improve them. His mentors are Betty Green, provincial coordinator of the Verified Beef Production Program in Manitoba, and Trevor Atchison, a producer near Pipestone, MB and current Vice-Chair of Canada Beef Inc.

“The BCRC mentorship program has expanded my knowledge of the Canada beef industry. It has allowed me to obtain a broader outlook on the future perspectives and directions of the industry.  Gaining a different point of view of the Industry will allow me to generate creative solutions with feasible application to both current and new challenges.” -Dr. Argenis Rodas-Gonzalez


Claudia Narvaez Bravo, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, Food Science Department. Her current research focuses on the development of suitable pre-harvest and post-harvest interventions to reduce the presence of pathogenic organisms within the meat production system. Her mentors are Mauricio Arcila, Cargill Meat Solutions High River FSQR Specification Superintendent, and Tom Teichroeb, a cow-calf producer near Langruth, Manitoba.

"The BCRC mentorship program gave me the opportunity to experience the Canadian beef production system and most importantly, to talk with the main players, beef producers. This opportunity has been a wonderful experience; it allowed me to enhance my knowledge and to gain an understanding of many problems experienced by beef producers and tailor my research program to find solutions" - Dr. Claudia Narvaez Bravo

Dr. Claudia Narvaez(left) and mentor Tom Teichroeb (centre) tour Martin Unrau’s (right) feedlot

Shaun Dergousoff, PhD is a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge research station. The overall goal of his research program is to better understand the risks associated with different arthropods (ticks and biting flies) that can transmit livestock diseases. His mentors are the Coaldale Veterinary Clinic (Dr’s Phillip Klassen and Steve Hendrick), and the Allied Marketing Group (five feedlot operators near Lethbridge, AB).

“The BCRC mentorship program has been extremely beneficial early in my research career. It provided several unique opportunities to attend very informative meetings and to meet industry leaders. Spending time with such knowledgeable and enthusiastic people is the best way to learn about the beef cattle industry and the things that are important to producers.” - Dr. Shaun Dergousoff







Click here to learn more about the 2015-16 participants and their mentors. 


2014-15 Participants

Emma McGeough, PhD., Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Manitoba. She is currently a co-investigator on a number of research projects ranging from forage evaluation to the environmental footprint of the Canadian beef industry. Her mentors were Janice Bruynooghe and Sandy Russell of Spring Creek Land & Cattle Consulting, Inc. in Saskatchewan.

“Being able to converse with producers and talk about issues pertinent to them has allowed me to enhance my knowledge of the beef industry and discuss ideas to enhance my current research program to target key areas of interest pertaining to forages and cattle.”- Dr. Emma McGough

Emma McGeough - Beef Researcher Mentorship 2014

Bill Biligetu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Forage Crop Breeding with the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. His research is focused on developing improved forage species for livestock feed, as well as breeding forage crops that are adapted to the prairie region of western Canada. His mentor was Aaron Ivey, a producer near Ituna, SK. 

“The BCRC mentorship program provided me an excellent opportunity to meet and network with industry peers by touring beef farms, and participating in various  workshops and meetings.” – Dr. Bill Biligetu 

 Bill Biligetu - Beef Researcher Mentorship 2014

Raquel Rodriquez Doce, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Lacombe, Alberta. Her research is focused on the development and management of cereal-forage crops for improved utilization in cow-calf, backgrounding and feedlot operations. Her mentor was Graeme Finn, a producer near Madden, AB.

“A highlight for me was being able to attend a type of congress that, under normal conditions, I would not have the chance to attend. This is very useful because it gives an overview of the application and implementation of the results from research.” – Dr. Raquel Rodriquez Doce

Raquel Doce - Beef Researcher Mentorship 2014

Click here to learn more about the 2014-15 participants and their mentors.

Other Opportunities

Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Program

The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders (CYL) program provides outstanding mentorship opportunities to those aged 18-35 interested in research, a career, or industry leadership in the Canadian beef cattle sector. The CYL program is a national youth initiative by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA). The Beef Cattle Research Council sponsors the mentorship of researchers selected as participants of the CYL program.

CYL Mentees Sponsored by BCRC

2016: Becky Tees. Click here to read about her experiences.  
2015: Elizabeth Homerosky and Brittany Wiese. Click here to read about their experiences.
2014: Rae-Leigh Pederzolli. Click here to read about her experience.
2013: Claire Windeyer. Click here to read about her experience.
2012: Katie Wood. Click here to read about her experience.

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