Animal scientist wins national recognition for “critically important” beef production research

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Source: University of Manitoba

Dr. Kim Ominski, professor and acting head in the Department of Animal Science, was honoured recently with the Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation for her extensive work looking at sustainable cattle production systems.

Presented annually by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) on behalf of Canada’s beef industry stakeholders, the award recognizes scientists and academics that are actively involved in strong research programs aligned with industry priorities, continually engage with industry stakeholders and demonstrate their passion and long-term commitment through leadership, teamwork and mentorship.

The BCRC news release reads:

A leader in furthering the environmental and economic sustainability of forage-based beef cattle production systems has been awarded the 2023 Canadian Beef Industry Award for Outstanding Research and Innovation. Dr. Kim Ominski was honoured August 16, 2023 at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference, held in Calgary, Alberta.

“Dr. Ominski is sincerely committed to advancing Canada’s beef industry,” said Manitoba Beef Producers General Manager Carson Callum. “Her work is critically important to maintaining the provincial and national research capacity needed to advance our industry and to ensure its long-term sustainability.”

Dr. Ominski is a researcher, professor and acting department head at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Animal Science, where she received her PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry in 1994. Ruminant nutrition is the core of her research program, but she has expanded this base to examine implications for the environment, human health and the broader sustainability of the Canadian beef industry.

“There are few areas of beef production research in which Dr. Ominski has not made an impact: nutrition, greenhouse gas emissions, manure management, feed efficiency, microbiology, farm husbandry practices and transport,” said Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, senior research scientist in beef cattle welfare at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge. “A clear strength she possesses is the ability to communicate about timely topics in animal agriculture such as greenhouse gas emissions and alternative feed sources related to beef or ruminant production in Canada.”

One of Dr. Ominski’s research contributions includes co-leading an environmental footprint assessment of the Canadian beef industry. It demonstrated significant reductions in the industry’s carbon footprint over the past three decades, as well as improved water use efficiency and reduced ammonia emissions per kilogram of beef produced. This work provided science-based evidence of ongoing improvements in the environmental footprint of Canadian beef production which has been used by industry and government in program and policy development. The research results are changing the way beef production in Canada is spoken about. For example, the results were shared in advertisements by McDonald’s Canada.

“Her commitment to connecting research questions with primary producer needs, and overall passion for the cattle industry has been an inspiration,” said Mary-Jane Orr, general manager of Manitoba Beef & Forage Initiatives Inc. “Dr. Ominski’s intuitive ability to recognize research gaps and bring in respective collaborators across disciplines is rare to find and has created the opportunities for research to be carried out addressing industry needs in feed efficiency, environmental stewardship, forage and grassland production, and technology transfer.

Knowledge dissemination and technology transfer are essential components of Dr. Ominski’s research and training programs. Every research project she leads includes a knowledge transfer plan because the practical relevance of the research to producers is a priority for her.

“Realizing the importance of outreach, Kim has been quick and committed to accessing numerous avenues including newsletters, newspaper articles, presentations, demonstration projects, tours, field days and hands-on workshops to extend research outcomes to industry,” said Karen Wittenberg, dean emeritus of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the University of Manitoba. “Dr. Kim Ominski’s enthusiasm for communicating a modern agriculture that embraces sound environmental stewardship while at the same time remaining economically viable, extends beyond research and industry circles to students and our general public.”

Along with her many research accomplishments, Dr. Ominski has mentored 35 MSc and PhD students, six research associates and post doctorals, and numerous undergraduate students, who are now helping advance the beef cattle industry in their careers. She has served as a mentor in the Canadian Cattle Young Leaders program, actively contributes to the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Advisory Committee and has served on multiple other committees in the past.

As a teacher, researcher and mentor, Dr. Ominski has published 82 peer-reviewed publications, 10 book chapters and more than 100 conference publications that have been cited in nearly 1,400 documents. Dr. Ominski’s commitment to beef producers and sustainable beef production is evident in her efforts to provide information and advance best practices in the beef industry.

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