Beef Improvement Federation

Baller, Davila, Upshaw Win Baker/Cundiff Honors

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) presented Baker/Cundiff Awards to Johnna Baller, Walden, Colorado; Kaitlyn Sarlo Davila, Ft. Myers, Florida; and Katherine Upshaw, Key West, Florida, June 8 during the group’s annual meeting and symposium online.

The annual Frank Baker/Larry Cundiff Beef Improvement Essay Contest for graduate students provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding student research and competitive writing in honor of Frank Baker and Larry Cundiff.

Baller is working on her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her essay was titled “Use of Commercial Data in Genetic Evaluations.”

Davila is pursuing a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Her essay was titled “Genetic Improvement for Thermotolerance in Beef Cattle.

Upshaw is a master’s student at Kansas State University. Her essay was titled “Collagen Disorders in Livestock Hide.”

Historically, winning essays are selected and published in the annual BIF Research Symposium and Annual Meeting Proceedings. This year the winning essay is posted to the BIF website Each winning author will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

Baker is widely recognized as the “Founding Father” of the BIF. He played a key leadership role in helping establish BIF in 1968 while he was chairman of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Cundiff retired after 40 years as a research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. He was the research leader of the genetics and breeding research unit at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center from 1976 until 2005. Cundiff not only designed, conducted and published some of the most important beef breeding research of the 20th century, but also led in the transfer of new technology to the beef industry through his continued work in BIF and presentations made across the nation and around the world.

To date, more than 1,000 beef producers, academia and industry representatives have registered to participate in the organization’s 52nd Annual Research Symposium — Online. BIF’s mission is to help improve the industry by promoting greater acceptance of beef cattle performance evaluation.

For more information about this year’s symposium, including additional award winners and coverage of meeting and tours, visit


The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) is an organization dedicated to coordinating all segments of the beef industry — from researchers and producers to retailers — in an effort to improve the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of beef production. The organization was initiated more than 50 years ago to encourage the use of objective measurements to evaluate beef cattle. Continuing the tradition, BIF is now the clearinghouse for developing standardized programs and methodologies for recording of performance data for all traits, from birth weights to carcass traits. Its three-leaf-clover logo symbolizes the link between industry, extension and research.