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 (September 1 – August 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.
Sign up for notifications when applications open. The deadline to apply each year is May 1.
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- 2021-2022 Participants
Dr. Gleise Medeiros da Silva is an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science at the University of Alberta and BCRC Hays Chair in Beef Production Systems. Her research has been focused on management of recently weaned beef calves, evaluation of feed additives, mitigation of environmental stress and nutrition of the pregnant cow. Her mentors are Fred Lozeman, who operates and mixed cow-calf and grain farm near Claresholme, AB, and Darren Bevans, General Manager of Deseret Ranches near Raymond, AB.
Dr. Hari Prasad Poudel is a forage breeding research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre. His research interests include improving forage crops using phenotype-based selection methods and genomics-assisted breeding methods while comparing their relative efficiencies. His mentors are Doug Wray a rancher in Irricana, AB and Graeme Finn a cow-calf producer from Madden, AB.
Dr. Maria Ceballos Betancourt is an assistant professor in beef cattle welfare and behavior at W.A. Ranches at the University of Calgary, faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Her main research fields are the evaluation or animal welfare and behavior, mostly in animal production systems, human-animal interaction and animal personality. Her mentors are Joyce Van Donkersgoed, DVM, a feedlot health consultant in Coaldale, AB, and Jake Bueckert, managing owner of Driland Feeders, a custom feedlot near Warner, AB.
Dr. Stephanie Terry is a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. Her research interests include, investigation of nutritional and technological strategies to mitigate ruminant greenhouse gas production and enhance the efficiency of beef cattle production. Her mentors are Christine Rosser a ruminant nutritionist at the Coaldale Veterinary Clinic from Lethbridge, AB and Ryan Kasko, the general manager of his family’s cattle feeding and farming business near Lethbridge, AB.
- 2020-2021 Participants
Dr. Alexander Koiter is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at Brandon University. Alex has had a keen interest in soil and water conservation and his current research focuses on better understanding soil erosion and sediment transport in agricultural watersheds. His mentors are Kristine Tapley is employed by Ducks Unlimited Canada as a Regional Agrologist for the beef industry on the prairies and Larry Wegner a beef producer in Virden, Manitoba.
Dr. Christine Liu is a research scientist at the Agriculture Agri-Food Canada research station in Lacombe, Alberta. Her research work is focused on food safety and health, including the microbial safety of meat products, and the interactions between food components/pharmaceuticals and animal or human gut microbiome. Her mentors are Dennis Laycraft the Executive Vice President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Michael Young the President of Canada Beef.
Dr. Jonathan Bennett is an assistant professor of plant ecology at the University of Saskatchewan. He has worked on a broad range of topics, ranging from plant-insect interactions to plant-fungal interactions at scales ranging from controlled greenhouse studies to continental-scale field surveys. His mentors are Lynn and Sherri Grant who are beef producers from Val Marie, Saskatchewan and Ryan Beierbach current chairperson of the BCRC and a rancher from South East of Whitewood, Saskatchewan.
Dr. Marcos Cordeiro has a PhD in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Manitoba. His research focuses on assessing agronomic and environmental dynamics of agro-ecosystems at varying spatial scale using field monitoring and modelling tools. His mentors are Anne Wasko, Market Analyst for Gateway Livestock Exchange based in Taber, Alberta and Brett McCrae a producer that farms 12 miles Southwest of Brandon, MB and is past president of the Young Cattlemen’s Council.
Dr. Trevor Coates recently joined Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research and Development Centre in Lethbridge as a research scientist specialising in air quality and greenhouse gases. His research interests are focused on better understanding the complexities of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and on exploring new methodologies for quantifying mitigation efforts. His mentors are Rich Smith, retired General Manager of the Alberta Beef Producers and Kendra Donnelly, a feedlot operator in Acme, Alberta.
- 2019-2020 Participants
Dr. Aklilu Alemu is a scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. He is developing a Canadian whole-farm model called Holos that helps to implement a holistic approach in evaluating changes in management practices and its impact on total farm greenhouse gas emissions. His mentors are Brenna Grant the manager of Canfax Research Services (CRS) and The Fleming family whoown and operate Fleming Stock Farms located west of Granum in Southern Alberta.
“The BCRC Researcher Mentorship Program has been a great opportunity to learn and understand the complexity of the Canadian beef industry and its challenges. Support from the program to visit farms and attend industry conferences and meetings plays a crucial role in networking with key players and stakeholders. The mentorship program connected me with two great mentors who thought me a lot about the industry. With my new role as a research scientist, I look forward to expanding my connection with the industry and develop a reassert program that adds value to the beef industry.”
Dr. Marianne Villettaz Robichaud is an assistant professor in animal welfare in the department of Clinical Sciences of the Faculty de Veterinary Medicine of St-Hyacinthe at the University of Montreal. Her research interests are on-farm improvements of production animal welfare, early detection and prevention of diseases, and management of at-risks animals including veal calves and cull animals. Her mentors are Nathalie Côté the VBP+ Program Coordinator for the sustainable beef program for cow-calf and feeder production in Quebec and Giacomo Zoia a beef producer at La Ferme Bœufs des Patriotes Inc. which specializes in beef production and field crops.
Dr. Matthew Links is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Matthew’s research program is focused at the intersection of the computer and life sciences. His mentors are Feedlot Health Management Services is a feedlot consulting service based out of Okotoks, Alberta and Sean McGrath a 5th generation rancher who together with wife Tanya and their family manage a 112-year-old operation breeding roughly 300 females each year and custom grazing another 200 pairs in the summertime.
Dr. Peipei Zhang is a research scientist under the postdoctoral research program with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Lacombe Research and Development Centre. Her expertise is using next-generation sequencing technique to solve meat microbiology related issues. Her mentors are Scott Entz who has spent his entire career, over 30 years, with Cargill and in various roles within the meat industry and Cathy Sharp a beef producer that has been involved with beef organizations for the past 14 years.
“The visits to cattle farms and feedlots were great and gave me a chance to step out of lab, talk to industry people and understand the challenge they are facing. The workshop organized by BCRC improved my understanding of research funding application review process.”
- 2018-2019 Participants
Dr. Jillian Bainard is a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at the Swift Current Research and Development Centre. 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. Her mentors are Duane Thompson who is an owner/operator of Tee Two Land and Cattle Co, in Kelliher SK, and Sarah Sommerfeld, an Agri-Environmental Specialist for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture.
“The BCRC Researcher Mentorship Program has been a great experience. As someone with a background in plant science, it is so important to understand more about the beef cattle industry as a whole – from forage to finishing to food. The mentorship program connected me with two amazing mentors who taught me a lot about their farm and industry experiences. I am even collaborating with them on a research project, bringing research trials into a practical real-life field setting. Through the program I was also able to make important connections with other industry partners and new scientists in beef & forage research.”
Dr. Diego Moya is an Assistant Professor in Beef Cattle and Welfare at the University of Saskatchewan. Diego’s research interests include 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. Diego is being mentored by Tamara Carter, who runs a mixed farming operation along the South Saskatchewan River near Lacadena, SK, and Ryder Lee, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association.
Dr. Dongyan Niu is an Assistant Professor of food safety in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary. The overall goal of her research is to advance food safety from farm to folk by 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. Her mentors are Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky who is a rancher and a beef cattle veterinarian and researcher at Veterinary Agri-Health Services in Airdrie, AB and Mark Klassen, the Director of Technical Services for the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“The BCRC’s Research Mentorship Program has been extremely beneficial early in my research career. With support from the program, I was able to attend informative industry meetings and meet a number of amazing industry players and stakeholders. These unique opportunities have allowed me to better understand current issues and research needs directly from the Canadian beef industry, which will facilitate me to design appropriate research program that can mostly benefit back to the industry.”
Dr. Gabriel Ribeiro is an 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. He will be mentored by Bryan Theisen, an owner/operator of Namaka Farms Inc, a feedlot and farming operation in Strathmore AB, and Dirk Burken, a feedlot nutritionist with Allied Marketing Group Inc. in Southern Alberta.
“The BCRC Researcher Mentorship Program has been a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding about the Canadian beef industry and the main challenges it faces. The opportunities to attend industry meetings and to network with the key players has helped me develop ideas for research that are more applicable to the industry needs. The knowledge, enthusiasm, and wiliness to share information of my mentors deeply contributed to my positive learning experience. Being originally from Brazil and an immigrant to Canada it has helped me make important connections with the industry that would not have been possible otherwise. I look forward to continue strengthening this relationship with the industry, and to produce research that adds value to the beef industry.”
- 2017-2018 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.
“The BCRC Beef Researcher Mentorship Program has been an excellent experience and has provided a broad and informative perceptive of the beef cattle industry that I would not gain in a research setting. My mentors are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Through the workshops and meetings facilitated by the BCRC, I am gaining insight into the priorities of the producers and operators so that I can guide my research to where genetic information and technology is lacking. I have also been given opportunity to network with a larger number of producers and gain first-hand insight and knowledge in the beef cattle sector.” – Dr. Mika Asai Coakwell
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.
“As a molecular breeder of forage crops, I spend a lot of time in a lab. However, one of the most important aspects of my work is to develop and maintain a close connection with those working as producers, as well as in industry, in order to ensure that my research aligns directly with their needs. The BCRC Mentorship program has been incredibly beneficial in terms of forging these interactions. Through discussions with my mentors and those involved in the industry, I am being exposed to a wealth of knowledge and novel perspectives that are proving to be exceptionally valuable in terms of directing my research to be both relevant and applicable.” – Dr. Stacy Singer
- 2016-2017 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, DVM is an Assistant Professor of Bovine Ambulatory Medicine at the University of Montreal. After graduation of her DMV at the University of Montreal, she completed an Internship in Bovine Medicine at the same institution then worked for a mixed animal practice in a rural veterinarian shortage area in southeastern Ohio. Her Mentors are Jacques Desrosiers who with his family operate Ferme B et L Desrosiers, a farm and feedlot in Saint-Hermas, Québec, Steve Eby whoowns and operates a feedlot, grazing and crop operation near the shores of Lake Huron in Kincardine, Ontario and Dr. Rémi Laplante veterinary advisor for Les Producteurs de bovins du Québec.
- 2015-2016 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
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.
- 2014-2015 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
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
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
Click here to learn more about the 2014-15 participants and their mentors.
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.