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Five men and women stand posing outside of OSU's animal and food sciences building.
From left: Avianna Liuzzo, Matthew Gorton, Jazmin Markey, Paul Vining and Camila Armas competed for the 2023 Whiteman Award. (Photo by OSU Department of Animal and Food Sciences)

AFS honors outstanding students and annual award winners

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 |

The Oklahoma State University Department of Animal and Food Sciences hosted its annual awards banquet this spring to honor scholarship recipients, distinguished alumni and others who have made important contributions to the program.

The following students were recognized with the Senior Leadership Award:

  • Rhiannon Curley, Redmond, Oregon
  • Madison Goecke, Augusta, Kentucky
  • Grace Harris, Horatio, Arkansas
  • Hunter Lock, Packwood, Iowa
  • Megan Newlon, Hugoton, Kansas
  • Elizabeth Pribil, Hennessey, Oklahoma
  • Cal Shultz, Faribault, Minnesota
  • Kaitlin Taylor, Milton, Tennessee
  • Kyler Vernon, Arroyo Grande, California

Carlee Salisbury of Kremlin, Oklahoma, was selected as the Outstanding Master’s Student. Morgan Denzer of Pulaski, Wisconsin, and Anna Goldkamp of St. Louis were named the department’s Outstanding Ph.D. Students.

The Whiteman Award is awarded to those with outstanding graduate student presentations:

First place: Matthew Gorton: research in dietary insulinogenic amino acid restriction in swine;

Second place: Paul Vining: evaluation of Oklahoma beef calf market trends;

Third place: Camila Armas: identification of post-transcriptional modifications in honeybees.

Graduates of Distinction

Blake Russell is the president and partner in ViaGen Pets and Equine. He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science with a production option from OSU in 1987. He worked in production, sales, business development, marketing, operations and general management at PIC USA, a provider of genetics to the swine industry until 2006 when he took a position with ViaGen, Inc., a global provider of cloning technology for non-primate mammals. With almost two decades of experience at ViaGen, Russell works to deliver genetic preservation and cloning services to not only pet and horse owners worldwide but also endangered species.

Wesley Warren is a professor of genomics at the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri. He received his bachelor’s degree in animal science from OSU in 1984 and a master’s degree in reproductive physiology from Clemson University in 1987. He served as senior director of operations at Incyte Genomics before joining the Washington University School of Medicine. Warren held appointments as assistant director and associate professor of genetics as well as a secondary appointment in molecular microbiology at the McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University. He is an internationally recognized expert in comparative genomics and is the author of four book chapters and 189 peer-reviewed articles.

Stacey Gunter is the advanced degree recipient of the Graduates of Distinction honor. Gunter is currently the acting center director of the USDA Agriculture Research Service for Oklahoma and the Central Plains Agricultural Research Center in El Reno, Oklahoma. He received a doctorate in animal nutrition from OSU in 1993 and served on the faculty of the cooperative Extension service at the University of Maine from 1994 to 1996. He worked as an assistant professor for the Southwest Research and Extension Center at the University of Arkansas. Gunter joined the ARS as research leader of the Southern Plains Range Research Station in Woodward, Oklahoma, in 2008.

Distinguished Service Award

Veteran farm and ag radio reporter Ron Hayes was the first farm broadcaster to be inducted into the Oklahoma Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2007) and has served the Oklahoma agriculture industry for 50 years. Hayes is a past president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and a member of the NAFB Farm Broadcaster Hall of Fame. He has served on the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation, the OSU Dean of Agriculture’s Advisory Board and the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Advisory Board.

Master Breeder

The late George Chiga graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal husbandry in 1940 and 1942, respectively. Born in Canada, he retained his U.S. citizenship after college and joined the U.S. military during World War II. After the war, Chiga returned to Oklahoma and taught agriculture in Guthrie. He established Red Plains Cattle Company, a Red Angus operation, in the late 1940s, believing strongly in performance testing and scientific animal breeding principles. Prior to his death in 2007, Chiga set up the George Chiga Professorship in Animal Science to encourage excellence in teaching and scholarship for beef production and genetics.

Tyler Award

Dr. Ravirajsinh Jadeja currently serves as an associate professor and food safety specialist in the AFS department and the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. During his past eight years at OSU, Jadeja has developed eight new courses in food safety, working with more than 85 food companies in Oklahoma to create food safety plans and becoming the university’s resident expert for food safety regulatory questions. He is one of the nine technical experts in the country who guides the Food Safety Modernization Act.

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