COLLEGE STATION – Dr. R. Mark Thallman ’81, a graduate of the Department of Animal Science, is a recipient of the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Science’s 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award.
Thallman earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science (1981), a master’s in animal breeding (1988), and a doctorate in genetics (1995), all from Texas A&M University.
Renowned among peers in the field of animal breeding and genetics, Thallman leads the Germplasm Evaluation Program at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. – the largest meat animal center in the world. The germplasm program is recognized as the most comprehensive beef breed evaluation ever conducted, influencing the beef industry in the United States and worldwide.
“I have known Mark very well for over 35 years. He is a brilliant researcher, is passionate about his work, and is an outstanding representative of Texas A&M University in everything that he does,” said Dr. Jim Sanders, professor in the Department of Animal Science. “
Coming from an Aggie family, Thallman’s father and three sisters also earned degrees from Texas A&M. His father, Richard Thallman, graduated with a degree in animal husbandry in 1956 and a master’s in animal breeding in 1958.
During his undergraduate career, Thallman was a member of the Saddle & Sirloin Club and on the meat and livestock judging teams. He also worked at the Beef Cattle Center and then at the USDA –Texas Agricultural Experiment Station farm in Riesel, gaining experience that would benefit him throughout his career.
In 1983, he was offered a job as manager of the new Simbrah-breeding program at Granada Land and Cattle Company, which had a large embryo-transfer business. While there, he observed that embryo-transfer calves had reciprocal differences in birth weight similar to those of natural calves. When he went back to full-time graduate study, Thallman published his findings on this long-studied characteristic in the Department of Animal Science’s Beef Cattle Research in Texas. It became one of his most important among a long list of distinguished publications.
When he finished his doctorate, Thallman went to work for Camp Cooley Ranch, then the world’s most influential Brangus breeder. In 1996, he joined the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, where he continues to make groundbreaking contributions to the field of animal breeding, genetic statistics, and molecular and quantitative genetics. He also serves on the board of the Beef Improvement Federation, helping to revise the federation’s guidelines – the most highly respected source used to set policy related to genetic improvement of beef cattle. Thallman remains close to his alma mater as a mentor to animal science graduate students.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.