Meet the 2022 CAST President

Anna Dilger

Dr. Anna Dilger “received the gavel” from outgoing President David Baltensperger, a long-time CAST member and contributor, during the CAST fall annual meeting held at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio from October 26-28. As the newly installed CAST President she referred to past accomplishments but kept the focus on the future: “As CAST reflects on the last 50 years, we are proud of our many accomplishments and the value that our stakeholders find in us. In the next 50 years, what won’t change about CAST is our focus on bringing together experts to synthesize scientific findings on new technologies and pressing issues in food and agriculture. But we are excited to expand our efforts into new mediums like education modules, videos, or other formats to better reach a broad audience.” 

Dilger was raised in Noblesville, Indiana, attended Purdue University for her BS and MS degrees, and completed her PhD at the University of Illinois. In 2010, she joined the faculty of the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois. Her research program focuses on improving the growth and efficiency of animal production and the quality of products produced. Being in Illinois, pigs and pork are a definite focus of her work. Anna is also an active teacher leading four different courses in her college and serving as the Undergraduate Coordinator for the Department of Animal Sciences.

With CAST, Dilger represented the American Meat Science Association from 2016-2019 when she joined the Board of Directors as the Society Liaison. She also served as the Task Force Board Liaison for recently released paper on food produced from cultured animal tissues. In addition to CAST, she has been active as a member of the management board for Animal Frontiers and the editorial board of Meat and Muscle Biology. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the American Meat Science Association.

During the 2021 Annual Meeting, Dilger reflected on all that has changed in the 50 years since CAST was founded. While CAST shares a birthday with many other great inventions like the handheld calculator the great game Pong, much has changed. Chief among those changes is how people obtain information. Gone are the days of the encyclopedia and at times, even the idea of Wikipedia seems quaint. Now people get their information from social media through videos, graphics, and memes. This is a challenge for a science-based organization like CAST as oftentimes sound and thoughtful scientific consensus is difficult to boil down into catchy sound bites. Due to these changes in how people receive and consume information, Dilger challenged CAST to change as well. She suggested shorter and more targeted papers and the continued use of webinar roll-outs, a pandemic adaptation, even when we are able to return to in-person events. CAST is working to extend our reach through partnerships with educational institutions to produce learning modules and generate social media content. However, with these changes in form, we cannot stray from our mission to convene experts to communicate credible, unbiased scientific information.  While the way we gain people’s attention might change through more extensive use of video and graphics, what we communicate, namely sound science, will not.

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