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Announcing the Beef Researcher Mentorship Program 2015-16 participants

We are pleased to announce the participants in the 2015-16 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. Angela Canovas
Mentors: Mike McMorris and Daniel Doerksen

A Canovas photo

Angela Canovas, PhD is the recently hired Assistant Professor of Beef Cattle and Small Ruminant Genomics at the University of Guelph. Angela received her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Lleida, Spain and a PhD in Animal Breeding and Genetics from UdL-IRTA, Spain. She also worked as a Fulbright post-doctoral researcher at the University of California-Davis. Through her background in molecular genetics and cellular biology, combined with using the most up to date technologies during her postdoc, she has developed extensive statistical and bioinformatics skills and a solid knowledge base in Next Generation sequencing and animal systems biology.

Through this opportunity, Angela plans to gain a better understanding of the research needs of the Canadian beef industry in terms of developing a beef breeding program and establishing research lines in a lab. She also plans to expand her network and gain skills in order to develop an effective applied research program to translate research achievements into instructional material, and share advancements with producers and other industry stakeholders.

Mike McMorris

Mike McMorris is the General Manager of BIO. He grew up on a beef and crop farm near Guelph, Ontario where he later went to University, and earned a Master’s degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics. Mike worked for thirteen years with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, first in extension as the Provincial Beef Genetics Specialist and then in several management roles. In 1999, he moved to the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association where he was Executive Director for a very busy five year period.

Following that, Mike spent 4 years with Agricorp as Director of Operations responsible for delivery of crop insurance, CAIS and other risk management programs to Ontario farmers. In 2008, he moved to BIO. Recent years have seen BIO evolve into an international, multi-species organization, still focused on helping producers make better business decisions, primarily with bioTrack but also with genetic evaluations and genomics.  At its heart, BIO is all about telling the story of animals and food products.

Mike is married with three children and was a past mentor in the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program.

Daniel Doerksen

Daniel Doerksen, together with his family, runs a purebred Hereford and commercial cowherd near Gem, Alberta. They focus on raising efficient moderate framed cattle. They sell bulls by private treaty and use their own bulls in their commercial cowherd.

Daniel graduated from Lethbridge Community College with a diploma in Animal Science in 2005. Among other community activities, Daniel serves as the President of the Gem Grazing Association and is a volunteer fireman. Daniel and his wife Kimberly have three children.

Mentee: Dr. Argenis Rodas-González
Mentors: Betty Green and Trevor Atchison


Argenis Rodas-González, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Meat Science and Food Safety at the University of Manitoba. Argenis was raised on a grass feeding dual-purpose cattle operation in Venezuela. His research has been in evaluation of meat composition and quality of domesticated livestock (beef and pork) and exotic species (water buffalo and bison), with special interest in the factors that determine meat shelf life and palatability, and application of novel technologies in order to improve them.

Through the mentorship program, Argenis plans to learn more in the areas of trade and regulation in order to help develop creative solutions to these issues. He looks foreward to better understanding Canadian production systems and obtaining a broad outlook of the Canadian industry and its future perspective and direction.

Betty Green

Betty Green is the provincial coordinator of the Verified Beef Production program in Manitoba. Betty has over 30 years of involvement in leadership roles in areas of education, agriculture and rural development. Perhaps one of the most challenging roles was being the president of the Manitoba Cattle Producers’ Association in 2003. She has also served as the Vice-Chair of the Prairie Improvement Network and the Chair of the Zone Canada Initiative. Betty has been active in the policy development and operations of many groups but her passion is in areas of research and development for future initiatives.

Betty is a partner in the G7 Ranch in Fisher Branch, Manitoba with her husband and son. They run about 10,000 acres and a 1000 cow beef herd. They have a backgrounder feedlot and a small full blood Simmental herd.

Trevor Atchison District 6 2nd Vice President

Trevor Atchison is a fourth generation rancher. Together with his wife and parents, Trevor owns and operates Poplarview Stock Farm near Pipestone, MB. After graduating from high school in 1993, Trevor made the decision to jump all into farming and he hasn’t looked back. Trevor devotes his time to the land and the cattle as well as juggling spending time with his wife and two children and being community-minded. Trevor strives to stay on the cutting edge of the industry by attending educational events and seminars such as the Ranching for Profit School, Holistic Management.

Trevor has been a director on Canada Beef Inc. for three years and currently sits as Vice Chair. Until February 2014, he served six years as a director of the Manitoba Beef Producers, and served as MBP president for one year.

Mentee: Dr. Claudia Narvaez Bravo
Mentors: Mauricio Arcila and Tom Teichroeb


Claudia Narvaez Bravo, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, Food Science Department. Claudia has a degree in Veterinary Medicine, and a Master of Science in Microbiology from Zulia State University. During her career, she has been working with food microbiology, specifically shelf life, quality, food-borne prevalence at the pre- and post-harvest levels, antimicrobial resistance in livestock animals (poultry, swine and beef cattle) and bacterial genetic characterization. Dr. Narvaez’s 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.

Through the mentorship program, Claudia plans to gain a better understanding of breeding, feeding, finishing and over-winter practices used in the Canadian beef industry. She hopes to gain an understanding of the overall Canadian beef production system, to obtain working knowledge and experience, establish contacts with stakeholders and facilitate research collaborations between academia and industry.


Mauricio Arcila currently serves as the Food Safety Quality and Regulatory Superintendent for Cargill Meat Solutions in High River, AB.  He was born and raised on a coffee plantation in Columbia before coming to Canada. He has been a director with the Canadian Meat Science Association in addition to working for beef producer groups (Beef Export Federation and the Canadian Beef Breeds Council) and private industry (XL Foods, Identigen, Cargill). Mauricio lives in Calgary with his wife Sandra and son Felix.


Tom Teichroeb, with his wife, Michelle, and children, Madison and Regan, own and operate a 350 cow-calf operation near Langruth, Manitoba.  They purchased the ranch in 2000 and have been able to expand their cowherd and grow most of their feedstuffs. The ranch consists of approximately 4000 acres of native pasture and approximately 550 acres of tame forage production. Their goal is to expand their herd to 500 cow-calf pairs in the future.  They background their calves in conjunction with a neighbor to reduce overhead costs and maximize marketing opportunities.

Their goal is to manage their resources in a responsible and environmentally sound manner. They participate in educational opportunities, such as those related to soil management, grazing methods, and cattle handling to help improve their ranch. Through their utilization of the Verified Beef Production program and other environmentally sustainable practices, their goal is to keep a keen focus on managing their resources and livestock. Along with ranch duties, Tom is a school trustee, and a director for both for Manitoba Beef Producers and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.

Mentee: Dr. Shaun Dergousoff
Mentors: Coaldale Veterinary Clinic and Allied Marketing Group


Shaun Dergouousoff, PhD recently joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a research scientist in Lethbridge. 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 of current and potential concern.

Shaun completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Saskatchewan. He then worked for several years as a research technician at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) where he was involved with various research and diagnostic programs for food-borne and livestock parasites. Shaun returned to the U of S to complete his PhD on vector ecology focusing on the identification of bacteria in ticks from western Canada.

Through the mentorship program, Shaun wants to continually learn more about beef cattle production systems and the overall Canadian beef industry. He also hopes to get a better understanding of current and potential concerns regarding arthropod-transmitted diseases to help to expand his research program.


The Coaldale Veterinary Clinic Ltd. (CVC) is a bovine-exclusive practice located in southern Alberta. The practice provides health management and veterinary services to feedlot, dairy and cow-calf producers. The practice is served by five veterinarians: Carl Dueck, DVM; Chris Dunn, DVM; Steve Hendrick, DVM, DVSc; Phil Klassen, DVM; and Chase Wendorff, DVM. The focus of the CVC is herd-based medicine with a special interest in clinical research in cattle.

The Allied Marketing Group (AMG) is a partnership formed in 2010 among five feedlot owners in the Lethbridge Alberta area. Members include Ryan Kasko, Les Wall, Ed Stronks, Leighton Kolk and Shawn Murray, who collectively manage 11 feedlots with a one-time combined capacity of 110,000 head.

Image credit: Alberta Beef Magazine

The goal of the AMG partnership is to share information and data to help advance feeding efficiencies and increase Marketing opportunities. One example of how they do this is working together to feed Angus cattle for the Certified Angus Beef program. They support a database that passes information from the packer all the way back to the producer to help link producers, feedlots and packers.

“We have been so pleased to hear last year’s participants explain all of the industry learning and networking they experienced thanks to this program”, said Tim Oleksyn, Chair of the BCRC and a producer from Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. “We look forward to continuing to work with them and supporting this new group with many opportunities to discuss and observe our industry’s challenges, which will be so valuable for them and the industry as they plan, conduct and communicate their research”, added Oleksyn.

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 an innovative cattle producer and another industry professional 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 through the technology transfer initiative within the second Beef Cattle Industry Science Cluster.

Learn more about the Beef Researcher Mentorship program, including highlights from last year’s participants.

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