Meet Dr. Reinaldo Fernandes

The National Hispanic Heritage Month is annually celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in the United States to recognize the contributions and influence of Latinx to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Diversity Committee Chair Dr. Angela Gonella sat down with Dr. Reinaldo Fernandes from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Reinaldo Fernandes Cooke is the Burkhart Endowed Professor for Beef Cattle Research in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University. Dr. Cooke received a B.S. (2003) in Animal Sciences from Sao Paulo State University and a M.S. (2006) and a Ph.D. (2008) in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida. Prior to Texas A&M, Dr. Cooke served Oregon State University as Assistant and Associate Professor – Beef Cattle Specialist from 2009 – 2017.

Dr. Cooke’s academic program is geared toward addressing the needs of the Texas, US, and worldwide beef industries. Dr. Cooke coordinates the Texas A&M International Beef Cattle Academy (http://ibca.tamu.edu). His research efforts focus on management strategies to improve productive efficiency in beef cattle operations, including nutrition, health, growth, and reproductive responses in Bos indicus and B. taurus cattle.

AG. What is your current position, and what does it entail?

RC. I serve Texas A&M University as the Burkhart Endowed Professor for Beef Cattle Research. My position is mainly focused on research, with emphasis on physiological aspects of Bos taurus and B. indicus cattle. I also teach a graduate course in statistical design and analysis and coordinate outreach activities related to beef cattle production in the US and other countries.

AG. Can you talk a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? What first attracted you to the world of science? And how did you get to be in your current position?

RC. I’m born and raised in Brazil, where I attended college and graduated with a B.Sc. in Animal Sciences. During college, I developed an unexpected passion for research (I always thought that I wanted to work as a consultant in the field) and decided to continue my education in graduate school. I had the chance to move to the US and get both graduate degrees from the University of Florida, and then my first faculty position at Oregon State University. After 9 years in Oregon, I had the opportunity to move to Texas, and be in the heart of the US beef industry.

AG. What are your future career goals?

RC. Besides personal goals (i.e. becoming a distinguished professor at Texas A&M), I want to contribute with research-based management interventions that improve beef production efficiency in the US and across the globe. In my perspective, there is no greater sense of accomplishment for a researcher when the technologies that he/she developed are being adopted by producers.

AG. Are there ways in which you think your heritage has affected your perspective or career trajectory?

RC. Yes, for sure. Brazil is a key player in beef production worldwide, housing the largest commercial cattle population in the planet. Agricultural and livestock production are the basis for the Brazilian economy, and having such heritage helped me in navigating through college, graduate school, and professional career.

AG. What words of inspiration would you like to share with the future generation of scientists, especially those coming from diverse backgrounds?

RC. Always do your best at any task and take advantage of your background! Diversity will help in adapting, addressing, and overcoming challenges.

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