University of Illinois veterinary student Zack Talbert has received the Morrison Swine Innovator Prize, an award given to veterinary students who want to specialize in swine medicine. The award was presented September 16 at the annual Allen D. Leman Swine Conference in St. Paul, MN.
All North American veterinary students with an interest in swine health and production were eligible. Talbert’’s presentation on creating a prototype device for making fumigation practices more efficient persuaded reviewers to award him the Prize.
“Every biosecurity practice is important these days”
Current practice on most swine farms is to place items on wire shelving in a fumigation chamber to remove harmful pathogens before entry into a swine barn. Sometimes the items are placed side-by-side or stacked on top of each other, which decreases the fumigant’s effectiveness. Talbert created a steel prong that holds objects aloft and, using a pulley system with a motor, turns the objects rotisserie-style during fumigation to ensure all surfaces are covered.
“Every biosecurity practice is important these days,” Talbert says, “so we should make sure each action is as effective as possible. For several diseases, we need to do a better job of reducing the entry of pathogens by fomites.” His father and brother are iron workers who helped Talbert create the prototype. A patent is pending on the device.
Talbert is a third-year veterinary student and hopes to work primarily in the swine industry while keeping a hand in a mixed animal practice. The Armington, Ill. native is looking for externships to expand his skills and perhaps identify additional biosecurity innovations.
Talbert received a cash award of $7,500 plus complimentary registration and travel costs to attend the Leman Swine Conference. The Morrison Swine Innovator Prize honors the legacy of the late Bob Morrison, DVM, PhD, MBA, who coordinated the conference for many years. The award is sponsored by leading swine producers, veterinary practices, and industry partners.
The Prize has been awarded twice, and won both times by University of Illinois veterinary students. Megan Bloemer won in 2018 for her work on improving biosecurity practices at truck washes.
The Allen D. Leman Swine Conference is an annual educational event for the global swine industry. It is internationally acclaimed for bringing science-driven solutions to the complex challenges facing the industry. Each year hundreds of participants from over 20 countries attend, including swine veterinarians and other professionals working in swine production and animal health management. The next conference will be held September 19-22, 2020.