Embracing COVID-related Opportunities

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Laura Greiner lecturing to her class.

Laura Greiner lecturing to her class.
Photo credit: Matt Wenger

AMES, Iowa – Passion and purpose. These two words describe Dr. Laura Greiner’s everyday approach to her profession and her students. She concentrates her passion of animal agriculture into her purpose of educating others on the benefits of animal agriculture for consumers.

Since joining the Iowa State University animal science department and Iowa Pork Industry Center in 2018, Greiner has worked in teaching and research in her primary emphasis area of swine production and nutrition.

In addition to teaching and working with the extension Greiner has four graduate students involved in a variety of projects in swine nutrition and physiology. When COVID-19 became a reality, some of those projects had to change due to packing plant closures.

“COVID’s not all bad, it's given us some opportunities and some good direction at the same time,” she said. “We've had a lot of focus in the last three to four months on how to help those producers manage through how to slow down growth rates on pigs and manage through some of those challenges of flow.”

Other opportunities for her and her colleagues in the animal science department that have arisen due to COVID include finding ways to better prepare for foreign diseases, evaluation of compensatory growth, and management of holding diet programs. She explained this means rather than euthanization being the only option when there is a disruption in the market, other options are now available.

COVID also provided opportunities to find gaps that need to be addressed. One of those gaps was people being prepared to handle a potential mass euthanasia.

“We were not mentally prepared for how long it would take to euthanize animals,” she said. “We now have a new perspective on ensuring more effective strategies for euthanization in the future.”

In addition to her research, Greiner is an instructor for two Iowa State courses: Introduction to Pork Production (AN S 225) and the Pork Fellows class (AN S 480C) that brings people from the industry to talk to students about current issues within the industry. She also teaches an online course on swine science (AN S 280) at Iowa State for individuals in the industry who want more background on basic swine science.

“Teaching in the COVID era has definitely been interesting,” she said.

Interesting in that she now has to record her lectures, which has become more time-consuming. However, she is thankful to be able to have face-to-face classes because it is beneficial for her and students from both connection and energy standpoints.

Through her work and in her approach to life, Greiner continues to pursue her passion of animal agriculture through new opportunities of educating others.

“Life takes you wherever,” she said. “You just have to be open to the experience and opportunities.”


(This article was written by IPIC communications assistant student Kariann Elsbernd.)

Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, 515-294-4496, shoyer@iastate.edu


2020 News and releases