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A celebration of Dr. Temple Grandin

September 26, 2011
Coleman Cornelius

World-renowned animal scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin, who has built her stellar career over more than 20 years at Colorado State University, will be honored during a festive event on campus next week.

Temple Grandin, famed animal science professor, will be feted during A Celebration of Dr. Temple Grandin at CSU on Tuesday. The event is open to students, faculty and staff. (Rosalie Winard photo)"A Celebration of Dr. Temple Grandin," set 5-7 p.m. Tuesday in the Lory Student Center Ballroom, is designed for CSU students, faculty, staff, and special guests. Hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences, the free event will include refreshments, displays, a tribute video and a question-and-answer session with Grandin.

"Dr. Grandin is a true star in our college and on our campus. The impact of her work has been recognized for many years, but the past year has been remarkable. This is a great time for CSU to pay tribute to Dr. Grandin and the ongoing influence of her work, and we invite the campus community to join the celebration," Craig Beyrouty, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said.

HBO movie raises profile

In 2010, HBO released a biographical feature film called "Temple Grandin" based on the CSU professor’s early life and career; the movie won seven Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. Also last year, Grandin earned a spot on TIME magazine’s list of "100 Most Influential People in the World."

This has helped catapult Grandin to a new level of fame.

Grandin, who has autism, is an eminent animal scientist who specializes in livestock behavior and has pioneered the field of farm-animal welfare. Her innovations in humane handling equipment and auditing systems have changed the livestock industry, improving animal welfare and producer profitability while assuring consumers about the integrity of the food system.

Autism advocate

Along the way, Grandin, an acclaimed author and speaker, has inspired people around the world as a champion for people with autism and their families. A key message in many of her talks is that, in her words, "the world needs all kinds of minds."

Grandin says her autism allows her to think visually – or to "think in pictures" – which has given her insights into livestock behavior and has helped her to design systems that advance food-animal welfare. This passion stems from the unique bond Grandin has developed with animals.

Celebration highlights

Among highlights during the campus celebration will be the screening of a tribute video that includes interviews with some of Grandin’s close associates. Mick Jackson, director of "Temple Grandin" and among those interviewed for the video, recalled of the first time Grandin watched the movie about her life.

" 'It's terrific, it's terrific, don't change a thing. It's wonderful.' It was such a sense of relief," Jackson, who was interviewed by a CSU videographer at his home in Los Angeles, said of Grandin’s reaction. Jackson marveled that she had visually memorized the movie on first viewing.

Grandin celebrates with HBO movie director Mick Jackson and actress Claire Danes after the 2010 biopic swept the Emmy Awards. Bio blast

Born in Boston in 1947, Grandin began her teaching, research and outreach in the CSU Department of Animal Sciences in 1990.

She travels internationally to speak about autism and farm-animal welfare, but Grandin is always back on campus to teach her classes in livestock behavior and humane handling.

The CSU professor's influence continues not only in her ongoing research and outreach activities, but in training a new generation of animal scientists, Beyrouty noted.

Three of Grandin’s protégées will speak at the campus celebration: Dr. Kurt Vogel, assistant professor of animal science at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls; Dr. Lily Edwards, assistant professor of animal behavior and welfare at Kansas State University; and Ruth Woiwode, a doctoral student advised by Grandin.  

Grandin earned her bachelor's degree at Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, her master’s degree at Arizona State University, and her doctorate at the University of Illinois. She has authored hundreds of scientific articles and several books, some of which have been on the New York Times best-seller list.

Among her innovations for the beef industry are curved cattle-handling lanes, walkways with traction, and the development of a "center-track conveyor restrainer," which keeps cattle calm as they enter a packing house. Her auditing systems, which measure cattle stress, have been adopted by retailers including McDonald's Corp. to ensure that beef cattle have been handled humanely.

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Contact: Coleman Cornelius
Phone: (970) 491-2392