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Robert D. Heilman '59 Dairy Science

Posted: October 28, 2015

Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences has named Robert D. Heilman, of Henrico, Virginia, a 2015 Outstanding Alumnus. The award recognizes alumni for their achievements and provides opportunities for recipients to interact with the college's faculty, students and other alumni.

Heilman, a 1959 alumnus with a bachelor's degree in dairy science, is the retired CEO of AMS Genetics Inc., an international bovine-genetics marketing company. In 1981, Heilman organized the first international exportation of bovine embryos, which sent embryos from Pennsylvania Holstein herds to Budapest, Hungary. This exportation provided livestock breeders with a new source of income from bovine embryos.

As international markets developed, Heilman assisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture in establishing health-standard requirements for the exporting of embryos. Packaging and genetic identity standards he developed were adapted by the International Embryo Transfer Society. These basic standards still are used today, modified for changing technology and physiology techniques.

The Pennsylvania Dairy and Allied Industries awarded Heilman the Pioneer Award for his leadership in establishing the All-American Dairy Foundation, for which he serves as volunteer executive director. The foundation provides funds for youth activities at the All-American Dairy Show, which is held annually in Harrisburg.

The National Dairy Shrine also recognized Heilman as an industry pioneer "who was instrumental in establishing international export opportunities to add value to U.S. cattle breeders."