Jay Laurence Lush

"Just be productive".

Date of Birth: January 3, 1896 in Shambough, Iowa.

Married: December 20, 1923 Adaline Lincoln; two children (David Alan and Mary Elizabeth)
Date of Death: 1982

The following was excerpted from the paper, "Genetic Statistics in Animal Breeding" by A. E. Freeman from the Proceedings of the Animal Breeding and Genetics Symposium in Honour of Dr. J. L. Lush, held July 29, 1972 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

1916, BSc. in Animal Husbandry from Kansas State College.
1918, MSc from Kansas State College.
1922, PhD from University of Wisconsin.
1921-1930, Assistant professor, Texas A&M College.
1930, Iowa State University

Dr. Lush's interest in animal breeding was aroused in 1914 by the enthusiasm of E. N. Wentworth who was his advisor for his MSc degree.  The topic of his MSc was the genetics of swine for colour, body characteristics, and economically important traits.  One experiment involved crossing wild boars with domestic pigs to study litter size as a Mendelian controlled trait.  Lush served a short time in the Air Corps near the end of WWI.  His PhD was at the University of Wisconsin under Dr. L. J. Cole and his thesis title was "The possibility of sex control by artificial insemination with centrifuged spermatozoa", which did not succeed.

Much of Dr. Lush's work in the 1920's dealt with characters controlled by single genes, application of statistical knowledge to practical feeding trials and learning to measure economically important traits.  In 1923 he published a paper (with Jones) on "The influence of individuality, age, and season upon the weights of fleeces produced by range sheep" in which he clearly distinguished the concepts of repeatability and model building, i.e. defining the factors that influence trait expression.  While at Texas A&M College he wrote 24 papers covering production of clean milk, traits controlled by single genes, Karakul sheep, nervous goats, growth of range cattle, and percentage of blood and Mendelism.

In 1930 he moved to Iowa State to analyze swine data from testing stations.  During the spring of 1931 he commuted to the University of Chicago to audit a course in Statistical Genetics from Sewall Wright.  In 1934 he spent 6 months in Denmark where he worked with data from the Danish pig testing system.  Much of his work in the 1930's dealt with inbreeding and line breeding in the development of different breeds.  Dr. Lush was unique in combining the work of Fisher and Wright to solve animal breeding problems.  In 1935 he compared breeding values estimated from an individual's own performance and from a progeny test which showed the importance of heredity and environmental variation, the effects of number of records of each individual and the number of progeny.  In 1937 he published his first book, "Animal Breeding Plans" which sold more than 20,000 copies.

Hazel and Lush (1942) compared the efficiency of multiple trait selection based upon an index, independent culling levels and tandem selection.  This was the basis for further advancements in selection theory (restricted selection indexes and indexes in retrospect).  Through the 1940's and mid 50's much of the basis for modern animal breeding was developed.  This included definition, measurement and characterization of traits plus estimation of genetic parameters; identification and correction for extraneous sources of variability when estimating breeding values; systems of breeding, particularly rotational crossbreeding; genetic gain expected from crossbreeding; and development of statistical methodology.

Dr. Lush was instrumental in formulating programs for the Poultry Breeders Roundtable.  He has taken part in many shorter conferences ("Heterosis" in 1950; "Statistics and Mathematics in Biology" in 1952; and "Germ Plasm Resources" in 1959).  Dr. Lush was a worldwide traveler.  He spent extended periods of time in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Australia, India,  Germany, Peru, Poland, Norway, and South Africa.  He received honorary degrees from the Royal Agricultural College of Sweden, the University of Geissen, The Royal Danish Veterinary and Agriculture College, Michigan State University, University of Illinois, Kansas State University, University of Wisconsin, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich.  He was a Curtiss Distinguished Professor at Iowa State, and he received the Morrison Award, Animal Breeding and Genetics Award, Borden Award, Mendel Medal, Order of Merit in Agriculture in Italy, Armour Award, and the Distinguished Service Award.  He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1967, and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1972.  The most significant of his honours was the National Medal of Science he received in 1968.

He supervised 26 MSc degrees and 124 PhDs.