AUBURN – Temple Grandin, an animal scientist who has drawn from her experiences as a person with autism to become one of the world’s leading designers of humane livestock-handling facilities, will give a public lecture, Thursday, March 31, at 7 p.m. in the Auburn University Student Center ballroom. She will serve as the College of Agriculture’s spring 2011 E.T. York Distinguished Lecturer.
Grandin’s revolutionary designs of livestock-handling equipment and facilities for meat-processing plants as well as ranches and feedlots reflect her expertise in animal behavior and her advocacy for humane livestock management, as each is developed to reduce fear and stress in cattle and other livestock through every phase of their lives. Today, half the cattle in the United States and Canada are handled using a restrainer system she designed for meat processors.
The Colorado State University animal science professor and best-selling author also has developed an objective scoring system that meat-processing plants can use to assess their livestock handling facilities and practices and identify changes they can make to improve animal welfare. She often serves as a consultant to the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling and animal welfare, and at Colorado State she conducts ongoing research on livestock behavior and handling systems that reduce stress and losses at the packing plant.
Considered the world’s best known and most accomplished adult with autism, Grandin has dignified and improved the lives of millions with her message of hope and optimism for people with autism. She is an unofficial spokeswoman for autism, advocating early intervention to address autism and supportive mentors who can direct the autistic child’s fixations in fruitful directions.
Grandin was diagnosed with autism in 1950, and doctors, who then knew little about the condition, recommended the nonverbal 3-year-old’s parents institutionalize her. Refusing the notion that her child would never be a fully functioning member of society, Grandin’s mother instead devoted herself to finding special tutors and private schools with caring teachers who were willing to help her daughter overcome the social isolation characteristic of children with autism and nurture her brilliant mind to its full potential.
With the enduring support of her mother, an aunt and a high-school science teacher, Grandin had the courage to study and pursue a career as an animal scientist. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Franklin Pierce College in 1970, her master’s in animal science from Arizona State University in 1975 and her Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1989.
Last year, Grandin’s story came to light in the HBO movie “Temple Grandin,” a film that won seven Emmy awards. Also in 2010, Grandin was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, a list that a Time editor said includes “people who are using their ideas, their visions and their actions to transform the world and have an effect on a multitude of people.”
The E.T. York Distinguished Lecturer Series was established in the Auburn University College of Agriculture in 1981 with an endowment by E.T. York Jr. and his wife, Vam Cardwell York, both native Alabamians and Auburn graduates. The series features internationally known scientists speaking on a wide range of topics at public and technical lectures and seminars on the Auburn campus.
(Submitted by Jamie Creamer.)