Animal scientist finds fellowship rewarding experience

Animal scientist finds fellowship rewarding experience


Rothschild at the Sphinx in Egypt.


Max Rothschild is looking back at nearly a year working on international development in the federal government with a sense of accomplishment.

“Helping to support the efforts to use livestock to promote food security, gender balance and resilience is the most rewarding,” said Rothschild, an animal scientist who is a C.F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. “Working on the research programs in goat genomics, water livelihoods initiative and crop genomics has been fun and informative; as has helping to improve university engagements.”

Rothschild was one of 13 scientists chosen as a Jefferson Science Fellow last year, and the first Iowa State faculty member ever selected. Since last fall, he has been serving as a senior advisor for research in the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy within the Bureau of Food Security of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The opportunity was made possible through the Jefferson Science Fellowship, a National Academy of Science and U.S. State Department program that allows scientists interested in international activities to advise within the USAID or Department of State.

The USAID is the government agency that has provided U.S. economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for the last 50 years.

Rothschild intends to use his experience when he returns to Iowa State in August.

“I am working on a number of new research projects that may come to fruition, which will be an excellent accomplishment. I have learned a great deal which I believe will help ISU in the long run,” he said.

Rothschild joined Iowa State in 1980. He specializes in genetic research in pigs and other livestock and coordinates the U.S. Pig Genome project.

Motivated by work in Uganda

Max Rothschild visits with a shepherd in Jordan.

In 2007, he was named the M.E. Ensminger International Chair, in which he organizes schools overseas for animal scientists. And for the past six years, he has worked on livestock projects with small farmers in Uganda through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods.

He applied for the fellowship because of his Ugandan experience.

“I thought that this fellowship would be an excellent way to interact in government and learn more how to help the work I do and also that CALS and ISU do in the international arena. And I wanted to give back and provide service to my country and this was one way I thought I could do it,” he said.

Rothschild has helped to develop new research projects and review ongoing research efforts that seek to improve food security. He is proud of a new invigorated effort to make livestock aid and research more central to the mission at USAID and the Bureau of Food Security. A new Food Animal System Team provides more livestock information to USAID and its missions in the field.