New Leadership Joins Iowa State University

Harmon (L) and Thomson (R) join the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. ( Iowa State University )

Jay Harmon Named Associate Dean for Extension in ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Jay Harmon was named the associate dean for extension and outreach programs and director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University on Jan. 1.

Harmon has served as interim since April 2017 when John Lawrence was named the interim vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Dr. Harmon is an outstanding, dedicated, and thoughtful leader and an excellent person for this position,” said Daniel J. Robison, endowed dean’s chair of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “He not only understands the important role Extension and Outreach play in the state’s economic development, and how it is part of the fundamental mission of Iowa State University, but also how it is infused in the culture and work of our faculty, staff and even our students. He’s an expert and we are thrilled to have his leadership.”

Harmon will lead the comprehensive Agriculture and Natural Resources program area of Extension and Outreach for the College and for ISU Extension and Outreach. Robison said he was chosen because of his commitment and engagement to animal agriculture and engineering, but also to every aspect of agriculture and natural resources, from agronomy to economics, from sociology to molecular biology and from water quality to forestry.   

“He will be the key connection for the college with other programs in Extension, all across the state, and on campus,” Robison said.   

Lawrence, Iowa State Vice President for Extension and Outreach, said Harmon has the expertise and experience for this position. 

“Jay is a humble leader who will do well in this position,” Lawrence said. “He’s worked with Iowans in several roles since he came to Iowa State and his leadership has helped ISU Extension and Outreach enhance connections between faculty, staff and students and Iowa’s farmers, agribusinesses, land owners and rural communities.”

Harmon, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension livestock housing specialist, joined ISU’s agricultural and biosystems engineering faculty in 1993.

His extension duties have focused on improving profitability and sustainability through a systems approach to livestock housing, and management of ventilation, cooling and heating systems for swine housing. He has advised more than 200 producers on making the best decisions on siting new swine facilities by running an ISU-developed odor assessment model and has conducted over 150 ventilation workshops for swine producers throughout the state since the program began in 2001 He leads the Agricultural Systems and Environmental Stewardship Extension Plan of Work team and, from 2014 to 2015, he served as interim director of ISU’s Iowa Pork Industry Center.

Harmon has taught courses on subjects that include agricultural engineering design, swine environmental management, ventilation of agricultural facilities and wood structural design. He also conducts applied research on efficient and sustainable swine production systems.

Harmon is the professor-in-charge of the Midwest Plan Service at Iowa State, which produces agricultural engineering publications and materials in collaboration with 12 Midwestern universities. In 2015, he was nationally recognized as the recipient of the G.B. Gunlogson Countryside Engineering Award for exemplary service to animal production systems from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is a Fellow of ASABE and a registered professional engineer.

Harmon earned his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University, his master’s at University of Minnesota and his doctorate at Virginia Tech, all in agricultural engineering.

Daniel Thomson Selected as New Chair of Animal Science at Iowa State University

Daniel Thomson has been named the new chair of the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University.

Dr. Thomson is an internationally known leader, researcher and instructor in animal health management, animal welfare and beef cattle production. He has been serving as the Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology at Kansas State University and founded the Beef Cattle Institute in Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He has been a KSU faculty member for 15 years.

Dr. Thomson will begin his new duties on April 6. He succeeds Donald Beerman, who served as chair of the department since 2015 and retires Jan. 7. John Patience, a professor of animal science at Iowa State, will serve as interim chair of the department through April 6. 

A native of Clearfield, Iowa, Dr. Thomson is a third generation bovine veterinarian. He earned two degrees at Iowa State University — a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM). He has a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition from South Dakota State University and a doctorate in ruminant nutrition from Texas Tech University.

“We are tremendously excited and proud to have Dr. Thomson come back to Iowa State in this important role for one of our oldest and most prestigious departments,” said Daniel J. Robison, Endowed Dean’s Chair of ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “His varied expertise will enhance our ability to serve all of our land grant mission, from agriculture to life sciences, from pre-vet to livestock production.”  

“It is humbling to come home and work with the great faculty and staff to serve students and stakeholders of animal agriculture in Iowa and beyond,” said Dr. Thomson. “Iowa State University is an international leader in agriculture research, education and outreach. We will continue the land-grant mission of supporting people that feed the world and work diligently with consumers to meet their needs. 

"We all have a responsibility to take care of each other by ensuring the sustainability of agriculture businesses through embracing our rural heritage while advancing technology through our animal and life sciences programs to provide a safe, and secure, food supply for a growing global population," he said. "It is great to be coming back home.”  

Dr. Thomson hosts the national animal health television show, “Doc Talk,” which reaches over 45 million homes weekly worldwide. His leadership positions in the industry include chairing the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Animal Welfare Committee, serving as global co-leader for McDonald’s Beef Health and Welfare Committee, sitting on the YUM! Brand Animal Welfare Council and serving on the Tyson Fresh Meats Animal Welfare Advisory Board.  

His honors include the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Distinguished Service Award in 2018, National BQA Educator of the Year from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in 2015, the National Excellence in Teaching Award from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities in 2012 and the Kansas Farm Bureau Distinguished Service to Agriculture in 2011. In "2010, he was inducted into the Texas Tech University Advanced Degree Graduate Hall of Fame.

Dr. Thomson has published 114 peer-reviewed papers and delivered 865 invited talks internationally on his research and field experience on the interactions between production management, environment and nutrition on the health and well-being of beef cattle. His research program has been granted over $35.3 million. During his career, he has served as director of animal health and well-being for Cactus Feeders in Amarillo, Texas, and as an associate veterinarian with Veterinary Research and Consulting Services in Greeley, Colorado.