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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

ARS Honors Lay as Early Career Scientist / January 22, 2004 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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National news release

News story about Lay's research (Nov. 03)

ARS Honors Lay as Early Career Scientist

By Don Comis
January 22, 2004

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Jan. 22 -- Donald C. Lay, an Agricultural Research Service animal behavioralist, has been named the 2003 “Early Career Scientist of the Year" for ARS' Midwest Area. This award honors accomplishments by scientists who have received their highest academic degree within the past 10 years and have been a full-time ARS employee for seven years or less. ARS' Midwest Area includes Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

ARS, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Lay is being honored for building one of the first USDA animal welfare research units in the country--from the ground up--and making substantial research accomplishments at the same time, both individually and with a team of colleagues. Lay works at the agency's Livestock Behavior Research Unit located at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and is currently overseeing construction of a new building to house the unit. The new building is scheduled for completion in late March 2004.

As an "Early Career Scientist of the Year," Lay will receive a plaque at an ARS awards ceremony today in New Orleans, La. He will also receive a cash award and additional research funding.

“In less than a decade, Dr. Lay has turned the Livestock Behavior Research Unit into an internationally recognized center for animal welfare research,” said Edward B. Knipling, acting ARS administrator.

Lay and his colleagues are pioneering the idea of breeding nonaggressive poultry and livestock to reduce injury, mortality losses and stress. This includes selecting more “maternal” sows that will be less likely to roll over and crush their piglets. This accident alone costs farmers more than $600 million a year, in addition to raising animal welfare concerns.

Lay earned his B.S. degree in animal science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, both in applied animal ethology, from Texas A&M University at College Station in 1990 and 1995. He serves on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare and is a member of the Ethics and Animal Care Committee for the International Society for Applied Ethology. As an adjunct assistant professor at Purdue University, he serves on the university's Animal Care Committee.

Lay’s previous awards include Iowa State University’s 2002 College of Agriculture Team Award for his contributions to the “Alternative Swine Production Systems Initiative Team” and the university’s “Early Achievement in Teaching Award.”

Last Modified: 2/19/2014
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