posted on June 8, 2017
Professor Larry Schaeffer awarded ‘Doctor Honoris Causa’
Interbull Centre and the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) are pleased to communicate that this year’s title for Honorary Doctor in animal science has been awarded to Professor Lawrence (Larry) Schaeffer.
Larry Schaeffer is professor emeritus at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Larry is undoubtedly one of the most productive and influential people of the last 40 years in the field of statistical genetics and animal breeding. His work has had a large impact on many scientists, but especially has made real practical difference in the area of cattle breeding.
Larry Schaeffer is a most unusual professor in the sense that he is very “generous”. He has original contributions in virtually every area of statistical genetics and animal breeding. However, and more importantly, he is unique in (generously and wholeheartedly) promoting other people’s ideas in many areas. Two examples should be enough to prove this point.
Example 1: The abbreviation BLUP (Best Linear Unbiased Prediction) has become a familiar part of daily discussion for many horse or dog owners, as it has been for cow owners for several decades. Evan though many people contributed to the development of the BLUP, however, it was Larry Schaeffer who made BLUP known to others. Larry was responsible for the first ever international course on the use of mixed linear models (i.e. BLUP methodology) in the world, which was incidentally held in SLU in August 1976.
Example 2: Genomic selection was proposed in 2001. However, it was not widely noticed, until Larry Schaeffer (2006) pointed to the practical possibilities of the genomic selection. Shortly after, the real work on genomic selection started in dairy cattle in several countries.
Larry’s generosity has also extended to the practice of animal breeding programs, where his computer programs have helped scientists from around the world to put complex statistical genetics methods into practical use.
Larry Schaeffer’s connection with SLU / Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics / Interbull Centre
One of Larry Schaeffer’s original contributions was the suggestion for a method (commonly known as MACE, Schaeffer, 1994) that could simultaneously compare breeding animals from many different environments (whichever the environment was defined). As an example, he used the breeding bulls from different countries.
Larry’s method was put into practice immediately at the Interbull Centre, the only European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) at SLU, and is still in use. In this way, farmers from 32 countries receive breeding values for all globally active bulls of 6 major breeds for up to 42 traits, which amounts to over 1.4 billion breeding values per year.
Professor Hossein Jorjani, Service Manager at the Interbull Centre, will host Prof Schaeffer during the ceremony, lectures and additional activities at Ultuna and Uppsala Castle from 5 to 8 October 2017. The academic ceremony will take place on 7 October 2017 in the Assembly Hall at Ultuna.
Interbull Centre Director
8 June 2017.
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