The Walther H. Ott Professorship in Poultry Science

Walther Ott grew up on a poultry farm in Hermiston and came to OSU in the 1930s on a $100 4-H scholarship, awarded to him by the Union Pacific Railroad. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree from OSU in poultry husbandry in 1934 and a master's degree in animal nutrition in 1936.

After earning a doctorate from Pennsylvania State University in agricultural and biological chemistry, Ott did advanced graduate work at Yale University and joined the Merck Institute, where he enjoyed a distinguished 34-year career. In 1956, he was named Merck's director of animal husbandry, and later became senior scientist of animal research, the title he held until his retirement in 1976. Ott was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1964, and a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists in 1968; he also served as president of the Poultry Science Association from 1971-72. He passed away in 2010, preceded by his wife, Maxine Peterson Ott.

Mrs. Ott also was an OSU graduate, earning her degree in business education in 1934. A Corvallis native, she was the daughter of Sigurd Peterson, who taught at OSU from 1911 to 1954 and was a long-time chairman of the English Department.

Over the years the Otts generously supported OSU including gifts for The Valley Library expansion project, the Presidential Scholarship program, and the establishment of the Sigurd H. Peterson Memorial Scholarship in English. Dr. Ott's aim for the endowed position in poultry science, which he established in 1995, was to advance research and education in the field by supporting a poultry scientist in the early stages of his or her career.



Gita Cherian

After an international search, Department of Animal Sciences hired Dr. Gita Cherian as the first Walther H. Ott Professor in Poultry Science. She received both her master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Alberta, where she held increasingly responsible positions between 1992 and 1999, including Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Instructor, and Research Coordinator.

Dr. Cherian focuses her research on the role nutrition plays in the growth, health, and productivity of poultry, as well as in the safety and quality of poultry products. She is interested in modifying the fatty acid composition of eggs and meat, and developing "designer" foods that have modified fatty acid and lipid composition designed to meet the national dietary guidelines for combating disease conditions such as heart disease and cancer. At OSU, she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses.

Dr. Cherian was the recipient of the IRAP-Industrial Research Assistance Fellowship in 1997 and twice received the Outstanding Paper Presentation Award at the American Oil Chemist's Society Meetings. Her international work includes teaching computerized least-cost ration formulation for the production of fatty acid modified designer eggs to producers in Alberta, Israel, India, and Germany as well as presenting seminars to poultry farmers in China on egg fat composition and designer feeds.


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