Faculty Spotlight: Matthew Spangler

Matthew Spangler
Matthew Spangler
October 19, 2020

About Matthew

I grew up on a farm and ranch in Kansas and developed a passion of agriculture in general and beef cattle specifically there. I developed an interest in animal breeding and genetics during my undergraduate studies at Kansas State University which led me to purse a master’s degree at Iowa State and doctorate degree at the University of Georgia. I was fortunate to have joined the faculty at UNL in 2008.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

I am a professor of animal genetics and Extension beef cattle genetics specialist. 

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

Some of the greatest animal breeders in history were faculty members at UNL. This legacy coupled with the opportunity to work with scientists at the United States Meat Animal Research Center was a huge draw for me. The chair of the search committee at the time, Merlyn Nielsen, was very persistent (I am smiling) and convinced me that UNL and I were a match; he was correct. 

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

The opportunity to continually learn. I enjoy research, seeing research results deployed to effect positive change in the livestock industry and helping students grow into the talented young scientists that they are capable of being.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I always struggle to answer questions like this. I cannot think of a single professional accomplishment that I feel comfortable in saying was “mine”. I am honored to have worked with several very talented graduate students and postdoctorates who have proven to be far more clever than I am; they just needed help to uncover their abilities. I am continually humbled to work with very close academic colleagues and industry colleagues. If I have helped any of these people achieve something important to them, then I would consider that a great personal achievement.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I prefer solitude. That might be surprising for someone that has an Extension appointment and travels and much as I do.  

What is your life like outside of work?

I am horrible at maintaining boundaries between work and home, so it is not often that I am “outside of work”. However, I greatly enjoy the outdoors and like to go hunting and fishing. My wife and I have a 2-year-old son, so life outside of work generally revolves around him.