To mark the success of the 1992 World’s Poultry Congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands Branch of the World’s Poultry Science Association established a series of special scholarship awards. The awards, worth €11,000 (currently about US$12,500) are normally made in each of three categories representing the WPSA’s three main areas of activity: Research, Education and Industry/Organization. The Foundation decided to give its final award during the World’s Poultry Congress in Paris, France in 2022 and asked WPSA to sponsor future awards. WPSA accepted and renamed the Research Award, the Paul Siegel Research Award. The Paul Siegel Research Award went to Professor Samuel Egyir Aggrey (USA), and the Education award went to Professor Kokou Tona (Togo). No awards were made this year in the category Industry/Organization. The official recognition of the awardees will take place during the World’s Poultry Congress, 7-11 August 2022.
Paul Siegel Research Award
For two decades, Professor Samuel (Sammy) Egyir Aggrey (University of Georgia, Athens, USA) has conducted basic and fundamental research in quantitative, molecular and cellular aspects of feed and nutrient utilization in meat type (broiler) chickens. The biological measure of feed efficiency, residual feed intake (RFI) was introduced in 1965 and remained a black box for over a half a century because it combined the efficiency of maintenance and efficiency of growth into one component. Professor Aggrey dissected the components of RFI, delineated what had been a black box, and offered additional tools for genetic improvement. Based on the molecular dissection of feed efficiency, it became apparent that feed efficiency is highly related to protein (nitrogen) utilization efficiency. Whereas mammals use the ornithine cycle for nitrogen recycling, avian species use the purine biosynthesis pathway. Professor Aggrey showed that chickens use both the purine biosynthesis and the salvage pathways to recycle dietary nitrogen and further offered the molecular mechanisms utilized by both feed-efficient and inefficient birds in nitrogen recycling. Professor Aggrey has also been developing biomarkers for heat stress, coccidian infection and gut health in the era of antibiotic free production. Professor Aggrey co-edited ‘Poultry Genetics, Breeding and Biotechnology’ and was the lead editor for ‘Advances in Poultry Genetics and Genomics’.
Prof. Kokou Tona started his research career after completing his MSc in Tropical Animal Production at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Prince Leopold, Antwerpen, Belgium in 1998. Having completed his PhD in Applied Biological Sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, Prof. Tona has gone through the ranks at the University of Lomé and became a full Professor since 2015. Having played a pivotal role in securing a World Bank grant for the establishment of the Regional Centre of Excellence in Avian Sciences (CERSA) at the University of Lomé, Prof. Tona became the Director of the Centre, which has made tremendous impacts in the region, focusing on Masters, PhD and short course programmes of over 180, 60 and 1000 students, respectively, from about 13 countries in Western, Central and Eastern Africa. The vision of the Centre is to develop and improve capacity building in the agricultural sector in general and in the poultry industry in particular, in order to consolidate food security in West Africa. Prof. Tona has been instrumental in developing a functional curriculum for the Centre, which has received international accreditation for the Masters programme. The research of Prof. Tona has focussed on the following: avian physiology; technical knowledge of hatchery management and day-old chick production on industrial scale; improvement of poultry production through adapted management practices in sub-Saharan Africa; and development of the Tona-scoring system for measuring one-day-old chick quality. He developed a renowned method of chick quality scoring in the year 2003, which has been accepted globally. He has also been involved in the development of short course modules for poultry industry and implementation in West African countries, training poultry industry stakeholders in different countries, advisor and monitoring for poultry industry stakeholders in the sub-region. organization of poultry symposiums in Togo having attendance from different countries, and Organization of the first Pan-African Poultry Conference in 2019 (PPC 2019). Prof. Tona has over 100 articles published in reputable journals to date. He has successfully supervised numerous undergraduate, Masters, PhD, and Postdoctoral students. He established the Togo WPSA branch in 2007 and also successfully hosted several international conferences in Togo. The award will further enable him support for development of the Bioethics and Animal Welfare Masters programme.