Photo of Jay L. Lush

Jay L. Lush

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For bringing the science of genetics to bear upon animal breeding, and thus helping to remould the flocks and herds of America and Western Europe.

After receiving his Ph.D., Jay Lush researched animal breeding for 8 consecutive years – uninterrupted by the teaching stints that burdened his peers.

“As it was, the cattle and sheep and goats talked back to me,” he said in 1973. “Having no papers to grade or class rolls to call, I listened.” Before Lush, animal breeding was more art than science.

In 1947, he published what he called his “most important single paper.” The article guided breeders on how much attention should be paid to individual defects of litter mates when selecting animals for reproduction.

Through his work, Lush brought livestock cultivation – an activity as old as mankind itself – into a new arena of advancement with the development of equations to determine heritability of traits.

These calculations, later renamed the “breeder’s equation,” help guide today’s biologists in engineering the best livestock for meat, milk and egg production.