Facts about the Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery building and program

The UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) is celebrating completion of the new Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery (MSABD) building on November 6. The celebration event will be entirely virtual and can be found at Facts about the new facility and the MSABD program are below.

Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery building:

  • The Meat Science and Animal Biologics Discovery (MSABD) building is the new home of the MSABD program, which is part of the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences in the University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. The MSABD program involves research, teaching and outreach in the areas of meat science, food safety, and animal biologics (value-added molecules from animal tissues that function as medicines, therapeutics, etc.).
  • The Meat Science and Muscle Biology Laboratory, the former home of the MSABD program, was built in 1931 with additions completed in 1959 and 1971. The old facility no longer met needs of the program, including new programming and growth.
  • The new MSABD building will provide state-of-the-art teaching, research and outreach capabilities with unparalleled sanitary design, animal handling, harvest, processing, and microbial investigation capabilities. The building features modern offices and conference rooms and houses Bucky’s Varsity Meats retail store (formerly Bucky’s Butchery).
  • Total square footage of the new MSABD building is approximately 67,540 gross square feet.
  • The overall cost of the building project was $57.1M with slightly less than half coming from the state and the remainder from gifts and program revenue. A total of 256 donors — both companies and individuals primarily from the state’s meat industry — contributed to the project.
  • MSABD faculty are currently setting up their labs and starting research activities in the new facility, and UW–Madison classes are currently being held in the building.
  • Key dates on project timeline:
    • June 2009: Industry leaders and alumni form the Meat Science Advisory Board to establish a vision for the project
    • August 2012: UW Board of Regents approves project
    • June 2016: Completion of MSABD design
    • October 2016: Ham salting ceremony to celebrate the upcoming launch of the construction phase
    • January 2017: Construction starts
    • January 2018: Professor Dan Schaefer named first MSABD director
    • February 2020: State Building Commission grants final project approvals
    • October 2020: Professor Steve Ricke named MSABD director
    • October 2020: Faculty move-in complete
  • There are 23 spaces in building named for specific donors. These named spaces are listed below and online at:
  • The building’s main atrium area is named in honor of the late Professor Mark Cook, who propelled the animal biologics component of the MSABD program. Cook, who passed away in 2017, was a respected educator, researcher and entrepreneur with more than 40 patents and three startup companies. As a pioneer in the field of animal biologics, his research yielded advances in human health and food production.

Processing capabilities in the building:

  • The building houses a USDA-inspected meat and poultry processing facility, as well as a separate Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) processing and laboratory facility for food safety research. Together, these two processing plants are at the core of the research, teaching and outreach/training that will be offered to students and industry clientele.
  • More about the USDA processing facility: This 21,400-gross-square-foot, federally-inspected facility enables state-of-the-art, harvest-to-package processing of meat and poultry products.
  • More about the BSL-2 laboratory: This fully self-contained 6,530-gross-square-foot BSL-2 facility enables pathogen introduction and intervention strategies in a setting that replicates commercial meat-processing methods, but with food microbiology laboratory capabilities. In the interest of biosafety, the BSL-2 lab is physically separated from the rest of the adjacent building. It has its own address, a separate entrance, and its building systems are segregated from those in the USDA processing facility.
  • The floors of the USDA processing facility and the BSL-2 lab are color coded to delineate various meat handling zones. The USDA space has red for raw, yellow for the harvest areas, green for cooking spaces, and blue for ready-to-eat. Along similar lines, the BSL-2 lab’s meat processing area is red, and its kitchen space is green.
  • These two facilities enable partnerships with state, national and international meat and poultry companies to develop new products and to test pathogen elimination methods under conditions that mimic those in commercial meat and poultry processing establishments.

Instruction in the building:

  • The new building will expand the program’s capabilities to educate future industry leaders for UW–Madison students seeking BS, MS and PhD degrees and professional education opportunities for Wisconsin workers making meat products, as well as programming for youth audiences.
  • The facility features modern classroom spaces, including two lecture halls—the Johnsonville Lecture Hall and the Kerry Lecture Hall—where students can observe instruction (through large windows, with live audio and video feed options) taking place in adjacent, cooled, USDA-inspected meat processing space.
  • Around 60 students will receive hands-on training as employees in the facility, including 45-50 in USDA facility and 10-15 in the BSL-2 lab. Student employees will gain experiences in all facets of meat science and animal biologics (including harvest, further processing, biologics, food safety, sanitary design, microbiology, etc.).
  • Industry short courses are expected to be offered in the building starting in 2021 (subject to university, county and state public health guidelines).
  • There are around 175 UW–Madison students associated with courses taught by faculty in the MSABD program. Some of the courses are lecture-only courses while others are lecture courses that include extensive hands-on laboratories.

Research in the building:

  • A wide array of research on meat science and food safety will take place in the building.
  • Another focus is the discovery of new animal biologics. Animal biologics are value-added molecules from animal tissues that benefit human and/or animal health, such as medicines or therapeutics. One example is heparin, a blood thinner taken for the treatment of heart attacks, which is derived from mucosal tissues of harvested meat animals.
  • Other research looks at basic muscle biology, the impact of the microbiome on metabolism, microbial communities, foodborne pathogen ecology, lipid oxidation and questions identified by the meat industry and/or specific companies.

Bucky’s Varsity Meats:

  • Bucky’s Varsity Meats (formerly Bucky’s Butchery), a retail meat store, is located just inside the main entrance of the MSABD building. The store is staffed by a full-time operations manager and will employ approximately 5-10 part-time undergraduate students. Students will gain experience in animal harvest, meat processing, product development, meat cookery methods, food safety procedures, product display and customer interaction, including sharing science-based information about meat products and the meat industry with the public.
  • Bucky’s Varsity Meats is currently offering curbside pickup (only) and operating with a limited staff, which includes 2-3 undergraduates who are mostly working remotely. Orders can be placed at
  • Full retail sales and additional undergraduate employees will be added to the staff when it is deemed safe to do so according to university, county and state public health guidelines.

MSABD program:

  • For over 90 years, the UW–Madison MSABD program (known as the meat science and muscle biology program until recently) has conducted scientific research that has improved meat quality and food safety and trained the next generation of meat and food industry leaders through classroom and Extension-based education.
  • The MSABD program has 6 faculty, 3 affiliate faculty and 8 full- or part-time staff.
  • MSABD faculty have received 72 patents over the years, and they have helped found at least 4 spinoff companies, including Ab E Discovery, which commercializes an antibody that protects food animals from common infections.
  • The MSABD program administers a variety of novel extension programs including the Wisconsin Master Meatcrafter training program, an extension/outreach program to train forward-thinking professionals who want to grow their local businesses and create new artisan products. More than 90 people have completed the program since it started in 2010.
  • The program also offers 10-15 short courses to meat industry professionals in meat science, meat processing and food safety topic areas. These courses serve around 500 people each year.
  • For more information about the program, visit

Meat industry in Wisconsin:

  • The meat and poultry processing businesses in Wisconsin employs around 16,250 workers and has total annual sales of $8.6 billion. (Stats from animal processing section of the 2017 Contribution of Agriculture to the Wisconsin Economy report:
  • There are 241 official meat establishments and 51 custom exempt meat establishments operating in Wisconsin. (Stats from 2018-2019 DATCP’s Meat Establishment Directory:
  • The research, teaching and outreach of the MSABD program helps support the state’s meat industry, and the new MSABD building expands this capacity.

Named spaces in the building:

USDA-inspected spaces:

  • American Foods Group Harvest Floor
  • Pilgrim’s Poultry Harvest Lab
  • Charles Vignieri Meat Processing Lab
  • Wixon Sample Prep Room
  • Wixon Spice Room


  • Johnsonville Lecture Hall
  • Kerry Lecture Hall


  • Bray Research Lab
  • Hawkins, Inc. Discovery Lab
  • Salm Graduate Student Offices

Conference rooms and public spaces

  • CALS Alumni Reception Room
  • Compeer Financial Conference Room
  • Jones Dairy Farm Conference Room


  • Cher-Make Sausage Company Faculty Office
  • The Art Kautza Director’s Office
  • Kreul Family Faculty Office
  • Organic Valley and Organic Meat Co. Faculty Office
  • A. A. Schaefer Faculty Office
  • Robert and Angela Tramburg Faculty Office
  • Usinger Family Visitor Office
  • M.D. Van Ess Family Faculty Office
  • Van Lannen Department Office
  • Vita Plus Lab Manager’s Office