Worked closely with the beef industry to develop genetic predictions, wrote the guidelines on National Sire Evaluation, leading to the current National Genetic Evaluation program.
1932-2017 | Artist: Richard Steward Halstead (born 1947)
Impact & Accomplishments
Born in Hutchinson, Kansas, Richard Willham earned his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 1954 and a master’s degree in animal breeding and genetics from Iowa State University in 1955. Following military service, Willham completed his Ph.D. at Iowa State in 1960 and worked as assistant professor until 1963.
From 1963 to 1966, he taught at Oklahoma State, returning to Iowa State for the balance of his long career. During his more than three decades at Iowa State, Dr. Willham worked closely with the beef industry to develop genetic predictions, which he called Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs). He wrote the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) guidelines on National Sire Evaluation, leading to the current National Genetic Evaluation program.
In the mid-1960s, Willham developed a computer software program to teach college students the principals of selection. He has taught courses and published books on livestock heritage, and in 1990 served as curator of the exhibition, Centuries of Fascination: Art about Livestock at the Iowa State Brunnier Art Museum. He is a painter in his own right. Dr. Willham retired as C. F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture in 1979.
He has been honored many times, with a National Science Foundation fellowship, an animal breeding and genetics award from the American Society of Animal Science (1978), and a Continuing Service Award from the BIF (1974), among others. Willham was named to the Angus Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988.
Courtesy of Angus TV