Gary L. Williams, Ph.D., professor and research leader in the Animal Reproduction Laboratory at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Station in Beeville, has announced his retirement after nearly 37 years with Texas A&M AgriLife. He will officially retire on May 31.
Williams, also a Regents Fellow and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Senior Faculty Fellow in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M, is an internationally recognized scholar in reproductive physiology, endocrinology and reproductive management of beef cattle and horses.
“In 1984, Gary joined the station in Beeville and undertook the design and development of the Animal Reproduction Laboratory, where he has remained for the balance of his career,” said Cliff Lamb, Ph.D., head of the Department of Animal Science in Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan-College Station. “His career has included novel research, graduate student training, mentoring, consulting and longtime support of the beef cattle and horse industries, especially in the area of reproductive biology.”
Contributions to beef cattle, horse industries
Williams is a respected expert in his field and has consulted and directed services related to animal reproduction regionally, nationally and internationally.
For the beef cattle industry, Williams has consulted with scientists, veterinarians, feed manufacturers and breeders, serving as a resource for area cattle ranchers and the beef cattle industry.
He has also directed service activities related to diagnostic ultrasound, reproductive management and nutritional management for regional cattle producers and veterinarians. Additionally, Williams worked with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel to provide expertise at field days, workshops and short courses. He has also hosted his own short courses in animal reproduction and management for a range of clientele from cattlemen to local high school and college students.
Williams has also served the horse industry through directing service activities related to diagnostic ultrasound, reproductive management and nutritional management for regional horse breeders and veterinarians. He has provided equine reproductive endocrinology and management consulting to area veterinarians, which included free consultations and ultrasound and palpation services as a training aid for graduate students and postdoctoral research associates.
Williams also has consulted outside the Beeville area on the management of anovulatory mares at various stud farms in Texas, Kentucky and New York.
“Nearly 37 years ago, I was handed a blueprint for a proposed animal reproduction research laboratory as well as for additional supporting facilities associated with the 1,322-acre location,” Williams said. “I have had the unique privilege of using and managing a state-of-the-art research facility, 250-300 beef cows and a significant number of mares to conduct both basic and applied research in reproduction throughout this 37-year period. I know of no other place like this where an individual scientist, along with trainees, support staff and collaborators, has been provided with such an opportunity.”
Juan Landivar, Ph.D., director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Corpus Christi, said it would be difficult to overstate Williams’ service to the beef cattle and horse industries while at the Animal Reproduction Laboratory, conducting research and fulfilling a variety of additional responsibilities.
Landivar said Williams will be missed at the center and in the Department of Animal Science.
“In addition to managing a large number of animals year-round and making sure the cattle are as productive as possible to generate sales revenue to support the overall laboratory effort, Gary has also been highly productive in his research efforts,” Landivar said. “He has done all this along with writing competitive federal- and industry-supported grants, publishing peer-reviewed publications and mentoring graduate and postdoctoral students in a rural setting without immediate access to a university campus and its resources.”
Williams’ research contributions
Williams’ research made him an established authority in the field of neuroendocrine signaling pathways controlling the nutritional programming of puberty in beef heifers. It has also contributed to the understanding of seasonal reproduction in mares and identification of methodologies for its control. Some specific areas of his research include:
— Neuroendocrinology and physiology of suckling-mediated anovulation.
— The role of dietary fat intake/metabolism in regulating postpartum ovarian physiology.
— Nutritional programming of puberty in beef heifers.
— Development of the Bee Synch method for synchronization of ovulation of Bos indicus-influenced cattle.
— Neural, behavioral and nutritional control of postpartum reproduction in beef females.
— Mechanisms regulating seasonal reproduction in mares and development of hormonal strategies to mitigate their effects.
Williams has also developed and applied a number of specialized research techniques to facilitate his research with beef cattle and horses, including cannulation of the third cerebroventricle of the brain, mammary gland denervation and olfactory ablation.
More about Williams’ achievements
Williams earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in animal science from New Mexico State University and a doctorate in animal physiology from the University of Arizona. He is a Diplomate of the American College of Animal Physiology and has served as a mentor for 43 master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral trainees.
Williams was made a Senior AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow in 2020. He received the Research Fellow Award from the American Society of Animal Science in 2017, which also presented him earlier with the Monsanto Animal Physiology and Endocrinology Award. He is a Regents Fellow in the Texas A&M University System and has received Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence for both individual and team research.
He has been the chair or co-chair of numerous committees, panels and boards in addition to beng a nationally and internationally known lecturer and has authored or co-authored more than 375 publications. Williams served as editor-in-chief of Domestic Animal Endocrinology journal for nine years, served two terms as associate editor of the Journal of Animal Science and has been on the editorial board of five journals.
He is still an active member of the American Society of Animal Science, Equine Science Society, Society for the Study of Reproduction, Endocrine Society, Texas Quarter Horse Association and American Quarter Horse Association. He is currently co-chair of AgriLife Research’s Agricultural Animal Care and Use Committee.
“In my career, I have had to give up a few goals to achieve others; nonetheless, I believe it has been a successful one,” he said. “I have never regretted my decision and take full responsibility for what I have been able and unable to do as a scientist at the Beeville Station, and as part of the Department of Animal Science and The Texas A&M University System. I am very grateful to Texas A&M AgriLife, the resident directors for research at the center and the heads of the Department of Animal Science who have made possible all the opportunities I have had.”
Williams said after retirement he and his wife will spend more of their time at their quarter horse operation, Hidden Lane Equine in Beeville, where they will breed and race quarter horses.
“I’ve been breeding and racing horses on a small scale since I was about 9 years old,” Williams said. “It started with my dad in New Mexico, where I grew up. I will continue to do this and perhaps expand it some, including possibly racing thoroughbreds again.”
He said he also plans to do a lot of writing, both scientific and otherwise.
“I’m thinking about writing an autobiographical novel,” he said. “I have more to do than I have the time to do it.”