Rothschild Named Ensminger International Chair at Iowa State

June 26th, 2007

AMES, Iowa - An internationally known Iowa State University animal geneticist has been named to an endowed chair that encourages international work.

Max Rothschild's appointment to the Ensminger International Chair is effective July 1. The position is made possible through the Marion Eugene and Audrey H. Ensminger Endowment for Animal Science.

Rothschild is a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor of Agriculture in animal science and director of ISU's Center for Integrated Animal Genomics. He also is the U.S. Pig Genome Coordinator, which facilitates U.S. and international pig genome mapping projects.

Maynard Hogberg, animal science department chair, said Rothschild has a strong interest and background in international research activities. "As the Ensminger International Chair, he will be able to expand his current efforts, plus work on new projects on the international scene," Hogberg said.

Marion Eugene Ensminger was dedicated to animal agriculture education. He served on the faculty at universities in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington. In 1964, he organized Agriservices Foundation and launched a series of technical agriculture seminars held in more than 70 countries.

In 1990, Ensminger contacted David Topel, then dean of the ISU College of Agriculture, to ask for help developing a series of seminars for Russia. Topel agreed and several programs were conducted. Topel also worked with Ensminger on similar programs in Ukraine, Cuba and China. Later, Ensminger asked if Iowa State's animal science department would take over a series of textbooks he had written. An agreement was reached and Ensminger's books became the responsibility of Iowa State at his death in 1998.

Funding for the book project came from an endowment left to the ISU Foundation by Ensminger and his wife, Audrey, in 2000. The ISU Foundation is a private non-profit organization dedicated to securing and stewarding private gifts and grants that benefit Iowa State. The endowment also finances the Ensminger International Seminar room in Kildee Hall.

Iowa State recognized the couple by creating the Ensminger International Chair. Topel was the first person named to the position and Rothschild succeeds him.

Rothschild will take over leadership for the Ensminger international animal science schools. In fact, Hogberg said Rothschild will provide leadership for all international programs in animal agriculture at Iowa State.

"This will include establishing international projects, involving young faculty in international experiences and bringing international scholars to ISU for short-term visits and research collaborations," Hogberg said. "In addition, he will be involved in the development of a course in international animal agriculture for undergraduate students."

Rothschild has won numerous awards, including the Excellence in International Agriculture Award in 2003 from the ISU College of Agriculture.

Rothschild's first international effort was teaching swine genetics to 50 faculty and students in China in 1982. In 1989 he was among the first animal geneticists to participate as part of a delegation that went to China to select and import 155 pigs from three unique breeds, which have been useful in many of his and other animal scientists' discoveries.

Rothschild established the first U.S. collaboration with the European pig gene mapping community. His many other international research efforts include a collaborative effort to identify genes in Brazilian pig breeds, gene identification in cattle in Israel and animal genetics experiments in France, Finland, Italy, Scotland and Spain. He has been a frequent visitor to Korea and China, lecturing about swine breeding and molecular genetics and helping develop the first swine test stations in Korea. He has traveled and lectured in more than 30 countries.

More recently, he helped initiate an animal genetics project to improve animal production in Uganda through the Center for Sustainable Livelihoods, a current effort led by the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Rothschild lectures and teaches worldwide and has been a lecturer at Ensminger Schools in Taiwan, Thailand, Korea and Hungary. He has hosted scientists from many countries and has trained graduate and postdoctoral students from 13 countries.

Contacts: 

Max Rothschild, Animal Science, (515) 294-6202, mfrothsc@iastate.edu
Maynard Hogberg, Animal Science, (515) 294-2160, hogberg@iastate.edu
Susan Thompson, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication Service, (515) 294-0705, sander@iastate.edu