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WWF vice president to lead Penn State animal sciences

aimintang/Getty Images Old Main building in the campus of Penn State
PSU CHANGES: Adele Turzillo takes over Penn State University’s Department of Animal Science from Terry Etherton, who’s been leading the department since 1998.
Adele Turzillo also spent 12 years at the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Adele Turzillo, most recently the vice president for animal agriculture systems at the World Wildlife Fund, has been named head of the Department of Animal Science in Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Adele Turzillo, head of the department of animal science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences
NEW ANIMAL SCIENCE HEAD: Turzillo was most recently the vice president of animal agriculture systems at the World Wildlife Fund, where she led an initiative to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of food animal production. (Courtesy of Penn State)

Turzillo succeeds Terry Etherton, distinguished professor of animal nutrition, who returns to the department’s faculty full time after serving as department head since 1998.

At the World Wildlife Fund from January to September, Turzillo led an initiative to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of food animal production around the world.

She spent most of the past 12 years at the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, where from 2008 to 2013, she was national program leader for animal production systems. In that role, she developed priorities and led the peer review process for several competitive grant programs under USDA NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and the Small Business Innovative Research program.

In 2013, Turzillo became director of USDA NIFA’s Division of Animal Systems. In this post for more than six years, she provided leadership, planning and oversight for programs in animal health and production, with an annual budget of approximately $100 million. She also provided strategic policy analysis and advice to agency leadership, facilitated collaborations with other federal agencies, and interacted closely with land-grant universities, commodity groups and other organizations.

In addition, she co-chaired the executive committee of the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

In 2019 she served as senior adviser for animal health, production and animal products in USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist, where she advised on policy, programs and high-priority issues related to animal health and production. Before joining USDA, she was a physiologist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine from 2004 to 2008.

Previous academic experience

After earning a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a doctorate in physiology, both from Cornell University, Turzillo spent 12 years in academia. In 1992, she began a six-year stint as a postdoctoral fellow at Colorado State University, where her research focused on pituitary function in cattle and sheep.

As an assistant professor of physiology — with an adjunct appointment in animal science — at the University of Arizona from 1998 to 2004, she studied ovarian function in dairy cattle and taught physiology, endocrinology, and molecular and cellular biology at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

A member of the American Society of Animal Science and the Society for the Study of Reproduction, Turzillo has received numerous awards and honors, including the Secretary’s Honor Award for Excellence and the Abraham Lincoln Honor Award for exceptional achievement from USDA.

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