Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
June 8-12, 2020 • Online Program

A Bright Future

Young cattlewomen were honored with scholarships during BIF online symposium.

Johnna Baller, Walden, Colorado, was awarded a Baker/Cundiff Memorial Scholarship. Click here for original image.

Kaitlyn Sarlo Davila, Fort Myers, Florida, was awarded a Baker/Cundiff Memorial Scholarship. Click here for original image.

Katherine Upshaw, Key West, Florida, was awarded a Baker/Cundiff Memorial Scholarship. Click here for original image.

Elle Moon, Creighton, South Dakota, received the Roy A. Wallace Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship. Click here for original image.

Lindsay Upperman Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, received the Roy A. Wallace Memorial Graduate Student Scholarship. Click here for original image.

MANHATTAN, Kan. (June 8, 2020) — While the world may be in an entirely different state of being than anyone could have predicted this time last year, one thing has remained the same at the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) – younger generations are still dedicated toward the further development of the cattle industry. Five young leaders were recognized during BIF’s online symposium streamed Monday, June 8, 2020.

Baker/Cundiff Memorial Scholarships
Megan Rolf, associate professor at Kansas State University, presented the organization’s Baker/Cundiff scholarships. She said the judging committee was so impressed with this year’s submissions they chose to award the scholarship to three individuals, rather than the customary two.

“This scholarship was established to honor the contributions [Frank] Baker and [Larry] Cundiff made to genetic improvement in the beef industry,” Rolf said. To qualify for the BIF-sponsored award, applicants must be enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program and write an essay reviewing literature of a subject of their choosing relating to the beef industry. Winners included Johnna Baller, Walden, Colorado; Kaitlyn Sarlo Davila, Fort Myers, Florida; and Katherine Upshaw, Key West, Florida.

Baller is currently pursuing a doctorate in animal breeding and genetics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL). She submitted an essay on the use of commercial data in genetic evaluations.

“My research involves using simulation to explore the use of pooling genotypes and phenotypes in order to cost-effectively use phenotypes from the commercial sectors of the cattle industry to enable more accurate genetic predictors within the seedstock herds,” Baller said.

While pursuing a doctorate from the University of Florida, Davila is studying how to genetically improve thermotolerance in beef cattle.

“Thermal stress in hot and humid conditions limits beef cattle production,” she explained. Limited production creates an overall loss for producers, and Davila said her research is looking into how genetic variants identified for increased heat loss can be incorporated into genomic selection programs.

At Kansas State University (KSU), Upshaw is pursuing a master’s degree in animal breeding and genetics. Her essay focused on collagen disorders in livestock hide.

“Disorders involving collagen are often genetically controlled at the developmental stage of collagen production,” Upshaw said. “Thus, genomic selection on collagen markers may provide livestock producers the means by which to improve hide strength and carcass quality within their herds.

For access to the full essays of these scholarship recipients, visit

p>Roy A. Wallace Memorial Scholarships
Brian House, vice president of beef program and product manager at Select Sires, presented two recipients the Roy A. Wallace Memorial Scholarship. Of all the applicants, House commended the winners for continuing to stay dedicated toward improving the cattle industry, even as the effects of COVID-19 continue.

“Obviously, we’re in a different time and place today than when the first BIF convention was held,” he said. “However, the quest for knowledge and the passion to make our beef cattle better has not changed.”

Elle Moon of Creighton, South Dakota, received the Roy Wallace Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship. Moon currently attends South Dakota State University (SDSU) where she is pursuing a degree in animal science.

Having grown up on a ranch, Moon is familiar with the cattle industry and loves being involved in her family’s operation, House said. Upon graduation, she plans to attending vet school.

From Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Lindsay Upperman received the Roy Wallace Memorial Graduate Student Scholarship. Upperman graduated from KSU, received her master’s degree at University of California–Davis and is now pursuing a doctorate at UNL.

House said Upperman is extremely familiar with BIF, as she has attended three past meetings. Upperman has also had the chance to travel internationally, where she was able to speak on behalf of beef genetics, one of her favorite subjects.

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