Oklahoma State University Regents professor emeritus Robert P. Wettemann has been named the 2020 recipient of the American Society of Animal Science L.E. Casida Award.
The national honor recognizes excellence in the education of graduate and postdoctoral students to conduct research in reproductive physiology and endocrinology. Award selection criteria included evidence by peer-reviewed publication – with students as senior authors – of basic or applied research.
Wettemann was an outstanding mentor and research leader in the OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences for more than 40 years, with many of his students going on to achieve great success in academia and industry, said Clint Rusk, department head.
“One of Dr. Wettemann’s greatest contributions – and there have been many – to the livestock industry has been mentoring graduate students,” Rusk said. “His hallmark was to foster a team approach to education and research, often drawing upon the knowledge and skills of nutritionists, physiologists, geneticists, statisticians and clinicians.”
Wettemann joined the OSU animal science faculty in 1972 and quickly established himself as a premier researcher and educator. He served as major adviser for 27 master’s and 20 doctoral degree students in his 40-plus years at OSU, as well as four postdoctoral associates. Twenty-three of his proteges served or continue to serve on university faculties. Three have served as department heads, one as a dean of agriculture and director of research and Extension, another as an associate dean of Extension and one as director of a research center.
The success of Wettemann’s graduate program received national and international recognition during his tenure at OSU. His graduate students were natives of 18 states as well as Greece, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.
An American Society of Animal Science Fellow, the highest honor awarded by ASAS, Wettemann coauthored more than 650 scientific publications. He served as president of both ASAS and the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists, among the rarest of feats in animal agriculture industry and education. The latter organization provides certification of animal scientists through examination, continuing education and commitment to a code of ethics.
“Dr. Wettemann is and always has been an advocate of science, its role in education and its wise use and application to benefit people,” said Don Wagner, OSU animal science department head from 1990-2008, who remains a lifelong friend of Wettemann.
“Bob is renowned for his extensive work with beef cattle, but he was also instrumental in scientific advances with swine management, particularly with heat stress,” Wagner said. “If there was a need and it had to do with animal physiology, Bob would enthusiastically take on the challenge.”
Dairy cattle is another livestock area in which Wettemann was always available to lend a hand. His expansive research expertise never surprised his fellow faculty, Wagner said, knowing Wettemann had earned his bachelor’s degree in dairy science from the University of Connecticut (1966) before subsequently earning his master’s (1968) and doctoral (1972) degrees in animal reproductive physiology at Michigan State University.
In 2018, Wettemann was named an OSU Totusek Arena Hall of Fame Chairback Honoree by the university’s Animal Science Alumni Association. Wettemann has been accurately described as an Oklahoman by choice, animal scientist by passion, professor by calling and leader by nature.
The OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences is part of the university’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, which is comprised of the Ferguson College of Agriculture and two state agencies: OSU Extension and the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system.