Dale Woerner, PhD, sees his academic career as an opportunity to make a difference and influence the future. A meat scientist, Woerner currently serves on the animal science faculty at Colorado State University (CSU).
Woerner grew up in the small south-central Texas town of Fredericksburg and developed his interest in livestock and meat through showing and judging competitions and food and nutrition projects in 4-H and FFA.
Woerner earned his BS and MS in animal science at Texas Tech University (TTU) in 2003 and 2005, respectively. While at TTU, he was heavily involved in intercollegiate meat judging as a team member and coach at the senior college and junior college levels. While at TTU, he coached a national-champion meat-judging team at Clarendon College and a reserve national-champion senior college meat-judging team. Following the completion of his master’s, he earned his PhD at CSU in 2009, where he coached a national-champion meat-judging team while serving as a graduate teaching and research assistant. He joined the faculty at CSU in 2009, serving within the university’s Center for Meat Quality and Safety. His appointment is 70 percent research, 20 percent teaching and 10 percent outreach.
Woerner also serves as the faculty advisor to the CSU meat-judging program. Woerner’s research focuses on meat quality, innovative fabrication, carcass-yield prediction, carcass optimization and red-meat nutrient composition. A key research challenge, he says, will be to develop systems for producing high-quality, affordable beef while using less corn and other cereal grains in the production process. Grain-fed beef, he says, has provided the U.S. producers with a competitive advantage over other sources, but livestock production now competes with energy and other industries for grain supplies. Researchers and the industry need to develop systems using less grain and other resources while maintaining or improving beef quality and production efficiency.
In his research priorities, Woerner says he tries to balance immediate needs within the industry with more forward-looking projects addressing the future sustainability of beef production. In his “40 under 40” nomination letter, fellow CSU meat scientist Keith Belk, PhD, notes Woerner has acquired over $3 million in grant funds and published 16 articles in peer-reviewed journals, two refereed book chapters and 44 other publications. “In three short years, this research productivity record is substantial and, in my experience, unmatched by most,” Belk says.