Ron Lewis

Photo of Ronald Lewis
Areas of Expertise
Breeding & Genetics

Ron Lewis Professor
Animal Breeding & Genomics

EDUCATION

  • Ph.D. Animal Science, May 1990, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
  • M.S. Animal Breeding, August 1986, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.
  • B.S. Animal Science, June 1981, University of California, Davis, CA, USA.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • Professor, Animal Breeding and Genomics, January 2014 to present, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA.
  • Professor, Animal Genetics, August 2011 to January 2014, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
  • Associate Professor (tenured), Animal Genetics, August 2004 to August 2011, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
  • Associate Professor (pre-tenure), Animal Genetics, November 2001 to August 2004, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
  • Leader, Sheep Breeding Section, April 1998 to October 2001, Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
  • Animal Breeding Specialist, September 1992 to April 1998, Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
  • Geneticist, April 1990 to July 1992, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Great Southern Agricultural Research Institute, Katanning, Western Australia, Australia.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

  • American Society of Animal Science
  • British Society of Animal Science
  • Poultry Science Association

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

  • American Society of Animal Science, Breeding and Genetics Joint Program, Committee Member, 2010 – 2012.
  • Poultry Science, Genetics Section, Associate Editor, 2010 – 2013.
  • World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production 2014, Vancouver, Canada, Scientific Committee Member, 2011 – 2014.
  • World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Permanent International Committee Member, 2014 – Present.
  • World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production 2018, Auckland, New Zealand, Session Chair/Moderator, 2017 – 2018.
  • Technical Advisor, National Sheep Improvement Program, 2016 – Present.
  • Vice-Chairman, Genetic Stakeholders Committee, American Sheep Industry Association, 2017 – Present.

PROFESSIONAL HONORS

  • Alpha Zeta; Gamma Beta Phi Society; Gamma Sigma Delta; Phi Kappa Phi; Sigma Xi.
  • XCaliber Award for Excellence, Interdisciplinary Team Making Outstanding Contributions to Technology-enriched Learning Activities, Center for Innovation in Teaching, Virginia Tech, 2013.
  • Great Plains IDEA Faculty Excellence Award, 2016.
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Parents' Recognition Award, 2017

RESEARCH

My research interests are in quantitative genetics and genomics with two main themes: (i) defining pragmatic strategies to improve the reliability of genetic evaluation, and thereby enhancing selection response, in livestock species; and, (ii) understanding how animals, changed through artificial selection, are influenced by and interact with their environment. This work involves a mix of theory, simulation and field studies, with species emphases in beef, sheep and poultry, with close collaborations in North America, Great Britain and Norway.

Research projects that I currently have underway are: (i) enhancing the reliability of genetic evaluations in ruminant livestock by developing strategies to ensure strong genetic links (connectedness) across-farms; (ii) assessing genetic sensitivities to nutritional constraints and disease challenges in long-term divergently selected lines of chickens; and, (iii) predicting intake and diet selection in grazing cattle to improve the efficiency of cow-calf systems.

TEACHING

The focus of my graduate teaching is as the program director and instructor of four courses in a national graduate-level distance-delivered program in animal quantitative genetics and genomics (https://www.gpidea.org/program/quantitative-genetics-and-genomics). My undergraduate teaching includes an introductory and advanced course in animal breeding and genetics. I also have developed, and continue to support, an online simulation game (CyberSheep) that provides experiential learning in undergraduate and graduate instruction in animal genetics.

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Animal Breeding and Genetics (ASCI 330)
  • Advanced Animal Breeding (ASCI 431/831)

Graduate Courses:

  • Quantitative Genetics Applications of Matrix Algebra (distance-delivery)
  • CyberSheep: a Genetic Simulation Game (distance-delivery)
  • A Primer to Quantitative Genetics (distance-delivery)
  • Selection Index Theory and Application (distance-delivery)

EXTENSION

Although I have no formal extension appointment, I serve as the Technical Advisor to the National Sheep Improvement Program, the primary provider of genetic evaluation service for sheep and goat producers in the U.S.

PUBLICATIONS

Career total: 287

In the following lists an '*' indicates that the publication was a collaboration with a current or former graduate or post-doctoral student.

Referred Journal Publications (since 2013: 19; career total: 75)
In the following list of publications, an '*' indicates that the publication was a collaboration with a current or former undergraduate, graduate or post-doctoral student.

Vargas Jurado, N.*, K. M. Eskridge, S. D. Kachman, and R. M. Lewis. 2018. Using a Bayesian hierarchical linear mixing model to estimate botanical mixtures. J. Agric. Biol. Environ. Statistics (In press). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13253-018-0318-9

Artegoitia, V. M.*, A. P. Foote, R. M. Lewis, and H. C. Freetly. 2017. Rumen fluid metabolomics analysis associated with feed efficiency in crossbred steers. Nature Sci. Rep. 7: 2864. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-02856-0

Artegoitia, V. M.*, A. P. Foote, R. G. Tait, Jr., L. A. Kuehn, R. M. Lewis, T. L. Wheeler, and H. C. Freetly. 2017. Endocannabinoids concentrations in plasma during the finishing period are associated with feed efficiency and carcass composition of beef cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 95:4568-4574.

Ochsner, K. P.*, M. D. MacNeil, R. M. Lewis, and M. L. Spangler. 2017. Economic selection index development for Beefmaster cattle I: Terminal breeding objective. J. Anim. Sci. 95:1063-1070.

Ochsner, K. P.*, M. D. MacNeil, R. M. Lewis, and M. L. Spangler. 2017. Economic selection index development for Beefmaster cattle II: General-purpose breeding objective. J. Anim. Sci. 95:1913-1920.

Yu, Haipeng*, M. L. Spangler, R. M. Lewis, G. Morota. 2017. Genomic relatedness strengthens genetic connectedness across management units. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. doi: 10.1534/g3.117.300151

Artegoitia, V. M.*, A. P. Foote, R. M. Lewis, D. A. King, S. D. Shackelford, T. L. Wheeler, and H. C. Freetly. 2016. Endocannabinoids concentrations in plasma associated with feed efficiency and carcass composition of beef steers. J. Anim. Sci. 94: 5177-5181.

Lewis, R. M., N. Vargas Jurado*, H. C. Hamilton*, and J. D. Volesky. 2016. Are plant waxes reliable dietary markers for cattle grazing western rangelands? J. Anim. Sci. 94(S6):93-102.

Vargas Jurado, N.*, K. A. Leymaster, L. A. Kuehn, and R. M. Lewis. 2016. Estimating heritability of wool shedding in a cross-bred ewe population. J. Anim. Breed. Genet. (In press).

Eikje, L. S., and R. M. Lewis. 2015. Strong connectedness within Norwegian Cheviot and Fur Sheep ram circles allows reliable estimation of breeding values. J. Anim. Sci. 93:3322-3330.

Márquez, G. C.*, W. Haresign, M. H. Davies, R. Roehe, L. Bünger, G. Simm, and R. M. Lewis. 2015. Heterogeneous variances and genetics by environment interactions in genetic evaluation of crossbred lambs. Animal 9:380-387.

Vargas Jurado, N.*, A. E. Tanner, S. R. Blevins, H. M. McNair, R. W. Mayes, and R. M. Lewis. 2015. Long-chain alcohols did not improve predictions of the composition of fescue and red clover mixtures over n-alkanes alone. Grass Forage Sci. 70:499-506.

Vargas Jurado, N.*, A. E. Tanner, S. R. Blevins, J. Rich*, R. W. Mayes, D. Fiske, W. S. Swecker, Jr., and R. M. Lewis. 2015. Feed intake and diet selection in Angus-cross heifers of two frame sizes at two stages of growth. J. Anim. Sci. 93:1565–1572.

Duckett, S. K., C. Fernandez Rosso, G. Volpi Lagreca, M. C. Miller, J. P. S. Neel, R. M. Lewis, W. S. Swecker, and J. P. Fontenot. 2014. Effect of frame size and time-on-pasture on steer performance, longissimus muscle fatty acid composition and tenderness in a forage-finishing system. J. Anim. Sci. 92:4767-4774.

Emenheiser, J. C.*, R. G. Tait, Jr., S. D. Shackelford, L. A. Kuehn, T. L. Wheeler, D. R. Notter, and R. M. Lewis. 2014. Use of ultrasound scanning and BCS to evaluate composition traits in mature beef cows. J. Anim. Sci. 92:3868-3877.

Cole, J. B., R. M. Lewis, C. Maltecca, S. Newman, K. M. Olson, and R. G. Tait, Jr. 2013. BREEDING AND GENETICS SYMPOSIUM: Systems biology in animal breeding: Identifying relationships among markers, genes, and phenotypes. J. Anim. Sci. 91:521-522.

Duckett, S. K., J. P. S. Neel, R. M. Lewis, J. P. Fontenot, and W. M. Clapham. 2013. Effects of forage species or concentrate finishing on animal performance, carcass and meat quality. J. Anim. Sci. 91:1454-1467.

Márquez, G. C.*, W. Haresign, M. H. Davies, D. R. Notter, R. Roehe, L. Bünger, G. Simm, and R. M. Lewis. 2013. Genetic evaluation of days to harvest in crossbred lambs. J. Anim. Sci. 91:5153-5160.

Márquez, G. C.*, W. Haresign, M. H. Davies, R. Roehe, L. Bünger, G. Simm, and R. M. Lewis. 2013. Index selection in terminal sires improves lamb performance at finishing. J. Anim. Sci. 91:38-43.