Although avian physiologist Bernie Wentworth retired from the UW-Madison College of Agricultural Sciences in 2005, the legacy of his research and instructional programs will guide his department for years to come. In recognition of his 35 years of distinguished research, teaching, administrative service and outreach, the College is honoring Wentworth with its Distinguished Service Award.
Wentworth will receive the award on Oct. 26 at the College’s Honorary Recognition Banquet in the Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus. For information on attending the banquet, please call CALS Conference Services, (608) 263-2421.
“His visionary leadership in poultry science instruction, research and outreach have contributed significantly to the land-grant mission and to CALS’ national and international reputation for excellence,” says Daniel Schaefer, chair of the animal sciences department.
After receiving his master”s and doctoral degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Wentworth worked as a research physiologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before coming to the UW-Madison in 1969 as an associate professor of poultry science. With a research program based on basic hormonal interactions in avian physiology, he made many lasting contributions to poultry science, Schaefer notes.
When poor fertility rates following artificial insemination plagued the turkey industry, Wentworth showed that a shallow artificial insemination method – which is how all commercial turkeys are inseminated today – would result in over 90 percent fertility. In the 1970s, his lab was the first to isolate turkey pituitary luteinizing hormone and growth hormone. More recently, his group produced an immortal turkey germ cell line (now licensed through WARF), and won funding from NASA for projects on the incubation of eggs in space.
Wentworth was the driving force behind the Midwest Poultry Consortium”s Poultry Center of Excellence. Now in its eleventh year, the center coordinates faculty instructors from the participating universities for six courses and trains 32 students each summer. Its graduates are very successful in landing jobs, which helps to address an important human resource development need for the poultry industry. Wentworth also developed and co-taught the department”s largest-enrollment course, “Biology and Appreciation of Companion Animals,” and advised and mentored many undergraduate and graduate students.
Wentworth enjoys taking his expertise on the road. He is active in poultry and small-animal extension programs throughout the state, and his “Quick Quail” program gives K-12 teachers a model to teach concepts like genetics, reproduction, nutrition and behavior. On an international level, Wentworth worked on a USAID grant in Costa Rica and served as a livestock advisor in The Gambia.
He also has a prolific administrative record. He served as chair of the Department of Poultry Science from 1985 until it merged with the Department of Meat and Animal Science in 1996, and then served as associate chair of the new Department of Animal Sciences until 2004. He also participated in many university committees, including those that oversee animal care. He is a former President of the Federation of Animal Science Societies and has many other professional honors, including being named as a Fellow of the Poultry Science Association.