UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — 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’s College of Agricultural Sciences, effective Nov. 2.
Turzillo succeeds Terry Etherton, distinguished professor of animal nutrition, who is returning to the faculty full time after serving as department head since 1998.
“Dr. Turzillo brings a unique combination of experience in research, education and administration to Penn State,” said Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “Her knowledge and leadership skills gained during a distinguished career in government service and land-grant research and education will enable her to build on the department’s long tradition of support for our students and the state’s animal agriculture industry.”
At the World Wildlife Fund from January to September 2020, Turzillo led an initiative to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of food animal production around the world.
She spent most of the last 12 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. 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.
During 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.
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.
The Department of Animal Science sponsors teaching, research and extension programs in a wide variety of areas related to animal agriculture and the food system. The department offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in animal science and participates in intercollege graduate degree programs in bioinformatics and genomics; ecology; molecular, cellular and integrative biosciences; neuroscience; physiology; and plant biology. Faculty research encompasses dairy, livestock, equine and poultry; animal products and human health; nutrient management and environmental stewardship; reproductive biology and fertility; and other topics.
–Chuck Gill, Penn State University