We Could Save the World: Dr. Esbenshade Talks Animal Science Research

Dr. Esbenshade shares insight into Animal Science researchIn the NC State Department of Animal Science, you know we educate the next generation of animal nutritionists, animal geneticists and other animal science professionals. But did you know we also drive the field forward with research into genetics and genomics, nutrition, physiology, production management, biotechnology and animal well-being?

This month we caught up with Alumni Distinguished Professor Dr. Ken Esbenshade to learn more about what is going on in the Department and where animal science as a field is heading in the future.

There’s so much going on in your department! Are there any specific projects about which you are particularly excited?
Ken Esbenshade: Absolutely! We’re always conducting studies in our department, as research is a large component of the education at NC State. One project that’s particularly exciting is a global food initiative we’re taking on to establish NC State as a world leader in food animal biosciences.

That sounds impressive! Can you explain more about what the initiative is?
KE: It’s no secret that the world’s population is growing, causing us to struggle to find ways to feed the entire globe. We know that through advancements in food animal science, we may have a better chance at solving this problem. Basically the increased global demand for animal products as food cannot be addressed through scaling production with increased use of land and water. We are researching how to solve those issues with the animals raised for food themselves.

Why is this so important for researchers and students at NC State to take on?
KE: North Carolina is the second largest producer in the U.S. for many food products such as poultry, pork and trout. Our neighbors and families and friends are affected by the food animal product industry, and our state sees benefits through the revenue created by this industry. We can use the resources, partners and skilled personnel we have to shape the growth of the state’s food animal economy and affect the food animal landscape worldwide.

You mentioned partners — who else is sharing the responsibility of this initiative?
KE: We are working, of course, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences together with NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The two colleges are spearheading this project, and we hope to leverage other partnerships in the future. Those include collaborations with other universities, the NC Cooperative Extension service, NC A&T University and other land grant universities as well as the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

How can students and other academics get involved?
KE: We’re starting the The Academy for Global Food Animal Biosciences. The Academy will bring interdisciplinary sciences together to solve these food production challenges. Additionally, by partnering with industry leaders we then have the potential to bring new ideas to market faster. The Academy will operate across several disciplines and colleges at NC State to propel research on a range of animal species. This organization will be transformative and is what will make NC State a global leader in food animal sciences.

Want to work with NC State on world-changing projects like this global food initiative? Learn more about our Animal Science online programs here.