John Pollak to coordinate integrated beef systems initiative

John Pollak
John Pollak

September 26, 2018

Lincoln, Neb. — John Pollak, former director of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, has been named coordination lead for the Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems Initiative at the University of Nebraska.

The Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems Initiative was launched in 2016 in the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is designed to leverage the many systems-based efforts underway at Nebraska to advance science-driven innovation in development of resilient systems for food animal production, health and well-being, and to train the diverse workforce required. With broad capacity across research, teaching and outreach, this initiative will take advantage of the state and university’s potential to lead the development of resilient, integrated systems for the production and delivery of nutritious, high-quality beef.

“Dr. Pollak is uniquely qualified for this role given his 30 plus years of experience as an esteemed expert in disciplines related to beef production, and his long history of service for beef producers,” said Archie Clutter, dean of IANR’s Agricultural Research Division. “With John’s leadership we’re confident that this initiative will result in far-reaching value for future beef production systems.”

Pollak served as USMARC director from 2010 to 2017. He began his career as an assistant professor of animal science at the University of California, Davis. Before coming to USMARC,  Pollak served as a professor of animal science at Cornell University for 29 years where he and his colleagues developed methods for genetic evaluation that have become the standard for global beef cattle breeding. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University. Pollak earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in animal breeding from Iowa State University.

 “When I first arrived at USMARC I attended a meeting of the Nebraska Cattlemen where I first heard of the Cattlemen’s goal for Nebraska to become the epicenter of beef production. I thought that reaching that objective would require a significant effort in R&D that addressed issues both within and across the multiple segments of the industry,” Pollak said. "Much has been accomplished in the past eight years both at UNL and USMARC towards providing that support. The opportunity to work with faculty at UNL and contribute to the further development of a beef systems initiative is very exciting, and as the program matures I look forward to expanding my interactions to involve industry partners.”  

IANR funding for the Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems Initiative has been used to support a range of transdisciplinary studies related to beef production, including a project that leveraged the institutional funding to secure an additional $1 million from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. The project, led by James C. MacDonald, associate professor of animal science and ruminant nutrition, is investigating how to improve land use efficiency through the integration of livestock and crop production systems. To learn more about this project, visit

Archie Clutter
Dean and Director
Agricultural Research Division

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