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Kent Weigel, Milo Whitbank named first Judge John J. Crown chairs

Kent Weigel and Milo Wiltbank, both professors in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, have been named the inaugural recipients of the university’s new Judge John J. Crown chair appointments. Weigel, who serves as department chair, has been named the Judge John J. Crown Chair in Dairy Genetics, and Wiltbank has been named the Judge John J. Crown Chair in Dairy Physiology, Nutrition and Management. Both appointments run from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2027.

The Judge John J. Crown Chair in Dairy Genetics was established by William and Tammy Crown, while the Judge John J. Crown Chair in Dairy Physiology, Nutrition and Management was established by Elizabeth Crown. William and Elizabeth are siblings, and the chairs honor their father, Judge John J. Crown. The Crown family operates Golden Oaks Farm, a suburban dairy farm west of Chicago, founded by John Crown in 1948. In addition to promoting sustainability and dairy education, Golden Oaks Farm has provided over 40 students with on-farm internships since 1998. Both chairs are intended to support and recognize faculty members within the UW–Madison Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, specifically in the areas of dairy genetics, physiology, nutrition and management.

Photo by Sevie Kenyon

Weigel’s research focuses on genetic selection and genome-guided management programs to improve the productivity, health, fertility, and feed efficiency of dairy cattle using tools such as whole genome selection, advanced reproductive technologies, crossbreeding, electronic data capture systems, and artificial intelligence algorithms. He has received a variety of awards, the most recent being the Robert G. F. and Hazel T. Spitze Land Grant Faculty Award for Excellence in 2020, and has published approximately 200 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Photo by Sevie Kenyon

Wiltbank specializes in reproductive physiology in dairy cattle. A major focus is understanding and reducing pregnancy loss in lactating dairy cows, including recipients of in vitro-produced and cloned embryos, and he led the development, validation, and modification of timed AI protocols such as Ovsynch and Double-Ovsynch. Wiltbank has over 250 peer-reviewed manuscripts in research areas including interactions of nutrition and reproduction, the physiological basis for anovular cows, and hormonal regulation of the ovary.