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McMeekan Memorial Award for Massey researcher

Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson and Professor Nicolas Lopez-Villalobos at the New Zealand Society of Animal Production (NZSAP) conference

Professor Nicolas Lopez-Villalobos has been awarded the prestigious McMeekan Memorial Award. 

Professor Lopez-Villalobos received the award at the 78th New Zealand Society of Animal Production (NZSAP) conference in Canterbury earlier in July.

The award recognises individual achievement in animal production in New Zealand or the Society within a five-year time frame. He follows in the footsteps of Massey giants like Professors Al Rae and Colin Holmes, who received the award in 1977 and 2004 respectively.

Originally from Mexico, Professor Lopez-Villalobos came to Massey as a Masters student in the early 1990s and stayed on to do a PhD, which he completed in 1999. He was quickly employed at Massey University as a post-doctoral researcher, before progressing to a research officer, and then a lecturer in 2002. He steadily worked his way up the ranks, achieving the position of Professor of Dairy Cattle Breeding and Genetics in 2014.

He has  peer-reviewed 203 journal papers and a further 162 peer-reviewed conference papers. The conference tally includes 94 papers in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, making him one of the top five most published authors in the Society in the past five years.

New Zealand Animal Evaluation Limited’s Dr Jeremy Bryant co-nominated Professor Lopez-Villalobos.

“Nicolas has made, and continues to make, an outstanding contribution to animal production in New Zealand. He is recognised nationally and internationally as an expert in dairy cattle breeding. His expertise includes design of selection and crossbreeding schemes for dairy cattle, devising milk-payment systems, simulation of dairy product processing, and genetic evaluation of dairy sheep and goat, and dogs. He is also extremely skilled in statistics, and provides advice and assistance in experimental design and data analysis to many scientists and students.

Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson who also nominated Professor Lopez-Villalobos and says he is a more than worthy recipient of the award.

“Nicolas is a quiet achiever in our society and hugely supportive to its young members. His contribution has been made not only via his own research, but also through collaborations with other scientists and students and expert supervision of many post-graduate students. In his 16 years as an academic staff member, he has supervised 74 post-graduate students, and was unsurprisingly awarded the Massey University Medal for Research Supervision in 2015.”

As evidence to this, one his PhD students, Megan Scholtens, was the winner of the Young Member Award section at the conference.