CORVALLIS, Ore. – Temple Grandin, who overcame stereotypes and low expectations because of her autism to become a national leader in animal welfare, will speak at Oregon State University on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Her talk, sponsored by the OSU Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA), will begin at 6 p.m. in the C&E Auditorium of the LaSells Stewart Center. It is free and open to the public.
Grandin has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Time magazine and on national television, and was the subject of a documentary called “The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow” for her unusual cognitive abilities and physical background. She was diagnosed as autistic at an early age and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. Yet she went on to earn a Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois and become a national leader in the design of humane animal facilities.
She attributes much of her success to her unusual ability as a visual thinker, and has said that written and spoken language to her are “second languages.” This visual ability allows her to recall the smallest details and she has compared her memory to running full-length movies in her head that can be replayed at will.
Grandin, who is a professor at Colorado State University, has used those abilities to observe changes in details to which animals are particularly sensitive, leading her to design some of the most widely used humane facility systems in the world. In addition to her design of curved chute and cattle restrainer systems, she also developed an objective scoring system for assessing the handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants.
Her research also has explored such areas as the temperament of cattle, environmental enrichment for pigs and bull fertility.
Grandin tells the story of “groping her way from the far side of darkness” in her book, “Emergence: Labeled Autistic,” which gained her international attention. Until then, few persons with autism had succeeded in professional careers and she became an advocate and role model for persons with autism.
She also has written more than 300 articles in scientific journals and livestock periodicals on animal handling, welfare and facility design. Her book, “Animals in Translation,” was a New York Times bestseller, and “Thinking in Pictures” describes her unique visual approach to her work.
SCAVMA brings 2-3 speakers to campus each year, with sponsorship from Hill’s College Feeding Program.