New Facilities Sharpen Our Cutting Edge

Dean Kate VandenBosch

Dean Kate VanderBosch

Our researchers in the meat, plant and dairy sciences have for years been making cutting-edge discoveries in facilities that were anything but. Through their dedication and ingenuity, they have managed to do pioneering work in buildings that have not seen significant updates since the mid-20th century.

We’re addressing that problem now with a state-of-the-art Meat Science Building that breaks ground this fall and a Plant Breeding Lab for which we have launched a vigorous capital campaign. These facilities, along with others now in planning, will greatly enhance the college’s research, teaching and public service work in disciplines that are crucial to meeting our world’s food, energy, health and economic development needs.

Grow readers may remember our spring 2013 cover story about plans for the Meat Science Building. Located near the Natatorium between Observatory Drive and Linden Drive, this facility will serve to advance research on all aspects of meat production, quality and safety. It will also allow researchers to develop high-value nonfood products for use in human and veterinary medicine, among other applications. Fans of Bucky’s Butchery can look for a name change to Bray’s Meats, in honor of our late beloved faculty member Bob Bray. The Meat Science Building is slated to open in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Plant Breeding Lab will find its home in the current Meat and Muscle Biology Lab, which will be repurposed into a sophisticated facility to process, analyze and store plant germplasm. Safe and reliable storage for seeds is a critical foundation for research in everything from plant breeding and genetics, plant physiology and molecular biology to crop protection and management and climate science. The Plant Breeding Lab will replace both the Seeds Building, which will be torn down this fall to make room for the Meat Science Building, and the Horticulture Annex. It will bring together plant scientists and their lab groups from agronomy, horticulture, genetics, biochemistry and plant pathology into one updated facility—an arrangement that will serve to increase both collaboration and cross-training among these disciplines.

The Plant Breeding Lab will include such features as storage chambers allowing for different temperature and humidity levels, seed treatment and cleaning labs and a grinding room to prepare plant tissues for chemical analysis. We seek to raise $3 million in private funds to support this significant renovation and remodeling effort.

As budgets tighten, it has been more important than ever for the college to prioritize its needs—and to invest our resources where we can have the greatest impact in both advancing research and meeting global challenges. These two facilities rose to the top through a long process that included consultation and partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders throughout the CALS community.

Neither venture would have been possible without alumni support. On behalf of the college, I offer you our heartfelt thanks.

To learn more, visit: http://meatsciences.cals.wisc.edu and http://supportuw.org/giveto/plantbreedinglab

Yummier Burgers

Who appreciates burgers more than a college student—particularly if the student is interested in meat science? It made sense that Gilly’s Frozen Custard would turn to enthusiastic young people—led by CALS/UW-Extension meat expert Jeff Sindelar, CALS food science lecturer Monica Theis and UW executive chef Jeff Orr—in a quest to create a better burger for their restaurants. Eighteen students and one staffer split into teams and created their own blends of ground beef, combining such types as flank, brisket, sirloin or chuck within a certain price point. They presented their formulations to members of the Gilly’s leadership team, who judged them for overall beef flavor, bite/texture and juiciness. The winner was  “Burger E” by Seth Schulz, an outreach specialist in CALS’ Meat Science and Muscle Biology Laboratory; food science undergrad Abbey Thiel; and food science graduate student Cherry Lam Wing Yu. Their creation is already being sold at two Gilly’s locations.