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Dr. Partha Ray named 2020 Dairy Science Outstanding Recent Alumnus in Academia

Dr. Parth Ray in the laboratory, 2020. UK.
Dr. Partha Ray in the laboratory, University of Reading (UK), 2020.

The Department of Dairy Science is proud to name Dr. Partha Ray as our Outstanding Recent Alumnus in academia.  After completing his PhD and post-doctoral research at Virginia Tech, Dr. Ray joined the faculty of Animal/Dairy Science at the University of Reading in the UK in 2016. He has built a highly productive, externally funded research program focused on micropollutants in manure, using analytical chemistry and –omic tools to improve the environmental sustainability of the dairy industry. Dr. Ray is known for his collaborative approach, his innovative solutions to analytical challenges, and his teaching and communication skills.

Dr. Ray has excelled in the laboratory, in the classroom, in the barn, and with industry stakeholders. In his Ph.D. program, he was a core member of a multi-disciplinary research team focused on the goal of improving prediction of availability of feed phosphorus. In his post-doc, he leveraged those relationships and identified new collaborators to create a new research team focused on excretion of pollutants of emerging concern (e.g. antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes). He has developed methods, supervised undergraduates, trained graduate students, planned and conducted experiments, published papers and written grant proposals. He’s quick to convert research findings to publications, with 16 peer-reviewed publications and four book chapters just 3 years into his faculty career.

Dr. Ray is equally successful in his teaching. While at Virginia Tech he served as lead instructor for a graduate journal club-style course and as a teaching assistant for a graduate course in applied statistics and undergraduate courses in ‘Anatomy and Physiology’ and ‘Applied Dairy Genetics’. As a teacher, Dr. Ray is patient, organized, and approachable; he received strong student evaluations throughout. He worked hard to become an effective lecturer and to develop relevant class exercises. He learned to use humor to connect with his audience, and to use real world examples and experiences to enhance student learning. At the University of Reading he teaches successful courses in animal nutrition and in animal health and disease.

Dr. Ray is equally focused on educating outside of the classroom. He understands the give-and-take of interacting with students and stakeholders from all backgrounds. In his research, Dr. Ray was fully responsible for the training, scheduling, and supervision of a large group of undergraduates. On two separate occasions, students said that he was “the best boss” they’d ever had. During his post-doc he helped enroll cooperator farms in work focused on antibiotic resistance, and worked with those farmers throughout the project. He developed a strong rapport with our dairymenand three years later, some still ask how he’s doing, and whether he’ll ever be back to the US to do more research. He’s now a sought-after speaker in the UK (winner of the President’s Prize at the 2017 British Society of Animal Science) and internationally (India, Brazil). He’s even done two interviews for the BBC!

Finally, Dr. Ray has been highly creative and successful in obtaining external funding for his research. He’s already been PI or co-PI on more than $750,000 of funded grants - about one third of that is funding he’s obtained at Reading and the remainder associated with his post-doc. At the start of his post-doc he played a central role in the organization and writing of a large USDA Food Safety Program CAP grant with partners including engineers, outreach and assessment specialists, food scientists, and analytical chemists. In the remainder of his time at Virginia Tech Dr. Ray led the preparation of six additional grants--with five of the six being funded.

Because of his research creativity, his record of grantsmanship and publications, and his teaching skill and experience, Partha Ray is a truly outstanding recent alumnus of the department.