W. E. Petersen Symposium

Professor W. E. Petersen.

Professor W. E. Petersen was a highly influential dairy scientist who was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota starting in 1921 until his retirment in 1960. The Danish-American professor conducted landmark research in the physiology of lactation and other aspects of dairy husbandry. He conducted fundamental research on udder development, milk secretion and milk composition. Professor Petersen earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in 1916, 1917,and 1928, respectively, from the University of Minnesota. Learn more about Dr. Petersen in an article published in the Journal of Animal Science (1997; 75:1431-1433) titled "William Earl Petersen, 1892-1971: A Brief Biography" (PDF).

To honor his memory, Dr. Petersen’s family established a fund in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota to sponsor dairy related symposia. The first symposium was held in December of 2000.

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5th W. E. Petersen Symposium

"Challenges and Opportunities in Animal Science Education"

Presented by the Department of Animal Science

The 5th W. E. Petersen Symposium focused on graduate education and provided an overview of the needs in the Animal Sciences and what the future holds for students in Animal Science graduate programs. The goals of this symposium were to: 1) identify priority areas and the specific courses graduate students will need in the future to be successful, and 2) develop strategies for cooperation between universities in offering needed courses in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Symposium Presentations:


  • Future Graduate Education Needs—An Industry Perspective
    - Ronnie Green, Pfizer Animal Genetics

  • Animal Breeding and Quantitative Genetics On-Line: A solution to a Dilemma in Graduate Education
    - Ron Lewis, Department of Animal & Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech University

4th W. E. Petersen Symposium

"Crossbreeding of Dairy Cattle: The Science and the Impact "

Presented by the Department of Animal Science, April 2, 2007

The 4th W.E. Petersen Symposium addressed the science and impact of crossbreeding of dairy cattle. Crossbreeding is the hottest topic at this time in dairy genetics, and the University of Minnesota has taken a lead in conducting new research. Furthermore, the University of Minnesota has provided international leadership in educating dairy producers on implementation of crossbreeding systems. Internationally renowned researchers, as well as dairy producers from Minnesota and California, discussed their perspectives on crossbreeding of dairy cattle at this symposium.

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3rd W. E. Petersen Symposium

"Exploring Viable Dairy System Alternatives for Minnesota"

Presented by the Department of Animal Science, April 25, 2005

The objective of the 3rd W.E. Petersen Symposium was to explore which dairy system alternatives are most likely to be successful over the next 10-20 years in Minnesota and identify likely impacts of the dairy industry moving in this direction. This seminar explored implications of various systems relative to economics, human resources, farm families, rural communities, environmental impacts and animal welfare considerations. Top experts at the symposium discussed the impacts of alternative dairy systems.

Symposium Presentations:

2nd W. E. Petersen Symposium

"Reproductive Loss in Dairy Cows: is the Trend Reversible?"

Presented by the Department of Animal Science, April 8, 2003

The 2nd W. E. Petersen Symposium addressed reproduction in dairy cattle and explored biological and management factors that affect dairy reproduction. Top experts in dairy cattle reproduction discussed their views on the decline of fertility in cows.

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1st W. E. Petersen Symposium

"Dairy Genomics-Future Trends and Opportunities"

Presented by the Department of Animal Science, December 11, 2000

Dairy genomics was the theme of the first W. E. Petersen Symposium. The major objectives of the event were to: 1) provide our graduate students and colleagues with current information about advances in dairy genomics in the U.S., and 2) to provide a brainstorming forum to discuss the future of dairy genomics, possible development of a multi-state reserach program, and possible development of an F-2 Holstein population. The inaugural seminar was held on the University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus with 85 researchers and students in attendance.

Symposium Presentations: