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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Velleman Receives Turkey Industry Research Award

July 27, 2006

Editor: A photo of Velleman is available. Please contact Mauricio Espinoza, (330) 202-3550 or

WOOSTER, Ohio — Sandra Velleman, a professor of animal sciences with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, has been awarded the 2006 National Turkey Federation Research Award.

The award, given every other year, recognizes Velleman’s outstanding record of turkey-related research published during the past six years. A poultry expert with a primary interest in muscle development, Velleman is senior author or co-author of 23 full-length peer-reviewed papers using turkeys as the experimental animal and has eight turkey gene sequences published in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) GenBank.

“Sandy is a superb fundamental scientist who has been very successful in her scholarly endeavors from a scientific publication and extramural funding perspective while conducting research that is highly relevant to the poultry industry,” said Jim Kinder, chair of the Department of Animal Sciences within Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“The National Turkey Federation Award is an honor that exemplifies the manner in which Sandy’s contributions are valued by the turkey industry,” Kinder added. “We are very fortunate to have somebody with her extent of service in this realm be part of our faculty.”

Among many other accomplishments, Velleman has established the parameters for the extracellular matrix (ECM) spacing and muscle fiber size in a commercial turkey sire line and the experimental F and RBC2 turkey lines at both the embryonic and post-hatch stages of growth. During these and other studies, her research demonstrated that, 16 weeks after hatching, breast muscle morphology was strongly influenced by maternal inheritance and there was muscle damage in growth-selected lines. The finding of maternal inheritance of breast muscle morphology is expected to have a tremendous impact on the selection of dam lines for the production of commercial turkeys.

“This award indicates the value of my research to the turkey industry,” Velleman said. “I was trained in a basic biology and medical background and to have the turkey industry place such a high value on the utility of my research findings with regard to the mechanisms regulating muscle growth is of high significance to me.”

Velleman joined Ohio State in 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences. During her first few years at OARDC, her research was devoted to the study of mutations and muscle development in chickens. Velleman has continued her studies with chickens, but has placed a major emphasis on turkey research in recent years. Ohio is one of the country’s top turkey-producing states.

The national leader in the study of ECM in poultry and in muscle development in turkeys, Velleman has published 73 full-length peer-reviewed scientific papers. Among other awards, she received the Poultry Science Association Inc. Research Award in 1998.

Velleman holds a B.A. degree in biology from Boston University and a Ph. D. from the University of Connecticut. After obtaining her doctoral degree, she spent over nine years at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School’s Connective Tissue Research Institute, the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, and the University of Connecticut.

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.


Mauricio Espinoza
Jim Kinder