Research Savvy Leaders in Animal Science

June 22, 2021

A new collaboration between Iowa State University and North Carolina A&T State University is taking on the challenge of developing the future workforce in animal science. The Research Savvy Leaders in Animal Science program is supported by a USDA Higher Education Challenge grant.

Susan J. Lamont, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Animal Science at Iowa State University, is an instructor in the program along with Theressa Cooper, Assistant Dean for Diversity at Iowa State University, Melissa Monson, postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Animal Science and their counterparts, Mulumebet (Millie) Worku and Chastity English at North Carolina A&T.

Research Savvy Leaders in Animal Science is designed specifically for women undergraduates, an under-represented group in professional leadership positions in animal sciences.

“This program provides students a leg up for their future careers and strengthens the bond between these two universities. It allows for cross-discipline learning for both students and teachers and helps teach the students to become lifelong learners,” said Lamont.

Both universities are capitalizing on their expertise in animal science and agricultural education to provide a four-week summer program for female research fellows from their respective universities. They recruited students with an interest in animal science and agricultural education to learn skills to become savvy researchers and leaders in the workforce. 

This summer is the first of the two-year program. Next summer, the four students in the 2021 cohort will return with an expanded leadership role in the program as they welcome in the second cohort of students. The program will be held at the two universities next summer to provide students with additional hands on research experience and an opportunity to make connections on both campuses.

The two major themes being taught in the program include research and leadership. The research portion of the program includes using a research simulation program, learning about experimental design, food science, animal genetics, how to research scientific news topics, and how to write and present a research proposal.

The agricultural education and leadership portion of the program focuses on soft skills that strengthen student’s abilities to join the workforce and become leaders in the industry. Students learn about good communication skills, cultural competency, preparing materials for a job search and how to work with diverse groups.

Out of the four students completing the program this summer, one is an Iowa State student. Adriana Ismaili is a junior in Agricultural and Life Sciences Education with a minor in animal science and a minor in horticulture.

“This program has allowed me to build relationships with professors and students across the country that will carry over after my graduation and into my professional career,” said Ismaili.   

Applications for summer 2022, from undergraduates in animal sciences or agricultural education, who identify as women, will be received through an online portal that will open early in 2022. If you are interested in joining this program, please email Sue Lamont at to join the email list for updates on the application process.

Research Savvy Leaders in Animal Science logo

The program logo was custom-designed by Melissa Monson, postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Animal Science and co-instructor in the summer program.  

Research Savvy Leaders in Animal Science