The American Poultry Historical Society has awarded the poultry industry's highest honor to a Virginia Tech faculty member who has devoted more than 60 years to researching and teaching poultry science.
Paul Siegel, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Animal and Poultry Sciences, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was inducted into the American Poultry Industry Hall of Fame at the International Poultry Expo in Atlanta, Ga., on Jan. 28.
“As I told the audience at the awards ceremony, I am accepting the Hall of Fame recognition on behalf of my teachers, my students, my colleagues in the university and elsewhere, and my family who has offered support throughout my career,” Siegel said. “In my mind, my main legacy is my students. More than 50 graduate students have completed their degrees under my supervision through the years.”
Raised on a poultry and tobacco farm in Connecticut, Siegel showed promise as a poultry scientist at a young age. He was active in 4-H and FFA, was named Poultry Boy of the Year in Connecticut, and earned a plaque in 1948 from the Chicken-of-Tomorrow Committee “for outstanding achievement in breeding and development of superior meat-type chickens.”
Siegel earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut in 1953. In college, he worked at the Storr’s Egg Laying Test, served as president of the Poultry Club, conducted research on turkey incubation, and placed fourth in the Intercollegiate Poultry Judging Contest. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate from Kansas State University in 1954 and 1957, respectively, and was a senior author or co-author of his first research papers while there as a teaching and research assistant.
In 1957, Siegel joined the faculty at Virginia Tech, then known as Virginia Polytechnic Institute. His research and teaching focuses on the effects of selection on growth, reproduction, and immunology of chickens. Siegel has published more than 400 journal articles, books, chapters, and reviews involving the role of genetics on nutrition, disease, immunology, physiology, and behavior of poultry.
The American Poultry Historical Society also inducted Donald Dalton, past president of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association; Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, founder and principal owner of Pilgrim’s Pride, the largest chicken producer in the United States; Robert Sparboe, founder of Sparboe Farms Inc., one of the largest egg production and processing companies in the nation; and J. Paul Thaxton Jr., professor of poultry science at Mississippi State University and co-founder of the world’s first biotechnology company dedicated to poultry.
Every three years, the American Poultry Historical Society inducts a maximum of five individuals who have devoted their lives to advancing the poultry industry into its Hall of Fame. To date, 94 individuals have received the honor. Each of the 2010 inductees will have a bronze plaque bearing his image on permanent display at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Md.