- February 2023
Research Associate I, Prairie Research Unit
North MS Research and Extension Center
MS Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES)
Time at MSU/in Position: 10 months
Growing up on a family-owned plantain farm in Guatemala, agriculture has always been a part of Juan Cordero’s life, so a degree in agronomy was a natural fit for him, but his love for beef cattle led him to pursue a master’s in animal science.
“You have to be passionate about what you do, said Cordero. “The hours are long and the conditions are hard. There is a lot you can’t control, so you have to be flexible and have good problem-solving skills.”
Connections he made as a graduate student at another university steered Cordero to Mississippi State University in 2022.
“During my master’s program, I had the opportunity to meet people who attended MSU in the past and told me about the great experiences they had. As soon as I found an opportunity here, I joined the MSU family,” said Cordero, who works as a research associate at the Prairie Research Unit.
The research unit is part of the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) located in Monroe County on about 2,500 acres. Cordero supports the scientists with all research activities including research methodology development, laboratory management, record keeping, determining station space and resource availability, herd nutrition and pasture rotations.
“I love to see our cattle thrive with the attention they deserve. The best feeling is when we successfully finish a research project and see the outcomes we have created with the process. It feels like we are making a difference for the producers we support,” said Cordero, adding that regardless of the research project, their aim is to always improve welfare and beef sustainability.
One of the current research projects Cordero is working on evaluates the feeding behavior of newly received steers. Providing attention to the feeding behavior during the backgrounding stage of beef steers can potentially improve feed intake, feed efficiency and health; therefore, minimizing losses.
“I think there are many people who miss out by not understanding the farming and research process and all it entails. It takes a lot of hard work and strategy to ensure we can feed the world. I wish more people knew the work so they could appreciate the process. I think they would be just as fascinated as I am with this career,” said Cordero.
For those considering a career in animal sciences, Cordero offers this advice, “The most important thing to consider is to do what you love and don’t be afraid. You will never know until you try. It is a difficult field to be in, but if you love it, it’s worth it.”
When he’s not working, Cordero enjoys riding mountain bikes, skiing, cooking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.