During the 2020 Cattle Industry Convention last week, the National Cattlemen’s Foundation awarded $15,000 W.D. Farr Scholarships to graduate students Paige Stanley, University of California-Berkeley, and Jessica Sperber, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.Stanley has extensive education in animal science. At Georgia College and State University she designed, conducted and published research on E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef, earning her Bachelor’s of Biology and Economics summa cum laude. She then joined the Animal Science Department at Michigan State University to earn a master’s degree, earning the Outstanding Master’s Student of the Year award for her research on the environmental impacts of beef production.
As a Ph.D. candidate at UC-Berkeley, Stanley designed a research project that combined methods from animal science and environmental science to publish the first life cycle analysis that included soil carbon sequestration as a potential greenhouse gas mitigation strategy for different cattle production systems. Her resulting article in Agricultural Systems in May 2018 was the journal’s most downloaded article with more than 44,000 views in one year and garnered significant media attention from outlets such as The New York Times, NPR and many others. Stanley’s research has shown that well-managed grazing systems can reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from cattle production. She plans to pursue a career as a research scientist at USDA or other research institution.Sperber was raised on a commercial cow-calf and grain operation in Alberta, Canada, and has had an interest in the beef industry her entire life. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, and her Master’s Degree in animal science from West Texas A&M University, where she gained a better understanding of beef harvest procedures and marketing techniques. She has participated in the poster competition at the Reciprocal Meats Conference, American Society of Animal Science annual meeting and the Plains Nutrition Council conference and spent three summers as a student intern with a cattle and crop insurance company, ensuring farmers and ranchers were protected in times of environmental uncertainty.
Sperber has presented at more than 30 industry meetings and agricultural gatherings related to her research at WTAMU. Her Ph.D. work gives her the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in cattle feeding and nutrition, while allowing her to expand on her interests in international trade and gain a greater understanding of beef production on a global scale. Her future goals involve academia and extension. Sperber says the W.D. Farr Scholarship will allow her to devote necessary time to complete ongoing research projects.