Wade Shafer, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President, American Simmental Association

Wade Shafer grew up in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, on Shoestring Ranch, a small seedstock operation.  Shafer completed his bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at North Dakota State University, followed by a master’s and a doctorate in Animal Breeding and Genetics from Colorado State University.

While at Colorado State, Shafer did extensive work in the area of bio-economic simulation modeling.  Following his formal education, he expanded Shoestring Ranch to over 500 cows, with cooperator herds representing another 500+ cows.  The ranch sold up to 200 bulls annually.

After selling his cow herd, Shafer joined the Simmental team as the director of breed improvement for the American Simmental Association (ASA) in 2003; in 2011, he accepted the position of ASA’s chief operations officer.  After Dr. Lipsey’s retirement in 2013, Shafer now serves as executive vice president of ASA.


Meet Jackie Atkins, Ph.D.

Director, Science and Educational Operations


Dr. Atkins is a native of Mandan, ND, and grew up working at her family’s veterinary clinic and commercial cow-calf operation. In 2002, Jackie graduated with a B.S. in Biotechnology from Montana State University.

Atkins attended the University of Missouri, earning an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Animal Science with an emphasis in Reproductive Physiology in Beef cattle under Dr. Michael F. Smith. After graduate school, Jackie worked as an embryologist for Dr. Chuck Gue at Progenesis Embryo Transfer, based in Belgrade, MT. In 2013, Dr. Atkins joined the team at the American Simmental Association as the Director of Science and Education.

In her role as Director of Science and Education at ASA, Jackie contributes science articles to the ASA publication and emedia, coordinates research projects, is involved in the Carcass Merit Program, and oversees the genetic condition reporting.


Meet Mahdi Saatchi, Ph.D.

mahdi saatchiMahdi Saatchi, who holds a B.S. degree in Animal Science, an M.S. degree in Animal Breeding and Genetics, and a Ph.D. in Animal Breeding and Genetics,  joined the American Simmental Association (ASA) staff as Lead Genomicist for the International Genetics Solutions program. IGS is a collaborative effort that focuses on multi-breed genetic evaluation involving 12 different beef breed associations.

Over the last 18 months, Dr. Saatchi has been employed as a genomic research scientist for the Pork Improvement Company (PIC), located in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He will begin his duties with ASA January 1, 2016.

During a three-and-a-half year period spanning 2010 to 2014, he studied and worked as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Iowa State University (ISU). While at ISU, he developed and implemented genomic selection technology into genetic evaluations for several US beef cattle breed associations, including Simmental, Hereford, Red Angus, Gelbvieh and Limousin in collaboration with the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium.

  • Published the third most-viewed article of all time in Genetics Selection Evolution, the highest-impact journal in the field of Agriculture, Dairy and Animal Science.
  • Developed a methodology to assess the accuracies of genomic predictions, which has been adopted by US GeneSeek – Neogen, a leading commercial agriculture genetic service laboratory in the US.
  • Delivered multiple presentations at the largest agriculture genomics meeting in the world, the International Plant and Animal Genome meeting.
  • Selected by the government of the European Union to teach his methodology to European farmers.
  • Invited to present his novel methodology at the 10th World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production.

Meet Lauren Hyde, Ph.D.

Lauren Hyde earned a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from the University of Colorado in 1981; and, several years later she returned to the university system
to pursue a Master’s of Science and a Ph.D. in animal breeding from Colorado State University (CSU), graduating in 2000.

During her graduate studies, Hyde worked as a research assistant at CSU’s Center for Genetic Evaluation of Livestock (CGEL). Her experience at CGEL running national
cattle evaluations positioned her for roles as director of performance programs at the North American Limousin Foundation, genetic evaluation specialist at the American
Simmental Association (ASA) and currently as a lead geneticist at International Genetic Solutions (IGS). As one of the members of the ASA/IGS genetic evaluation team, Lauren
has helped develop and implement multi-breed calving ease and genomically enhanced EPDs and is currently assisting in the development and testing of a state-of-the-art genetic evaluation computer system.

Dr. Hyde is very active in the beef industry, having served as a reviewer for the Journal of Animal Science, as chair of a cooperative extension research group on national beef cattle genetic evaluation, and as a board member of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF). In 2013, Hyde received the BIF Continuing Service Award in recognition for her significant contributions.