Purdue Animal Sciences Department Honors its 2024 Distinguished Alumni


The Purdue Animal Sciences Department’s Distinguished Alumni Award Winners for 2024. Front row (left to right): James Bishop, Mark Legan, and Zachary Tucker. Back row (left to right): Dr. Kelli Werling, Dr. Paul Ebner, Interim Department Head and Professor of Animal Sciences; Dr. Mark Diekman, and Bailey Graham. Photo courtesy of Purdue Agriculture / Purdue Animal Sciences Department.

The Purdue Animal Sciences Department hosted its 2024 Animal Sciences Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony on Friday, April 26. The individuals honored during this ceremony were Dr. Mark A. Diekman, Mark H. Legan, James D. Bishop, Bailey Graham, Zachary S. Tucker, and Dr. Kelli K. Werling.

The annual event honors alumni with three different awards: Early Career, Mid-Career, and Lifetime. The Early Career Award is given to alumni who received their first degree from the department between the years 2008 to 2018. The Mid-Career Award is given to alumni who received their first degree from the department between the years 1992 to 2007. The Lifetime Award is given to alumni who received their first degree from the department before 1992.

Bailey Graham was awarded the Early Career Award. She received her bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from Purdue University in 2015. She also received a minor in farm and agribusiness management and completed the certificate of entrepreneurship. Graham was heavily involved while she attended Purdue. She was in Mortar Board, Old Masters, Ag Ambassadors, Delta Gamma sorority and a Purdue Legacy Maker being the 25th person in her family to attend Purdue.

Graham began her career at Elanco Animal Health and is still there today as an Advisor in Poultry Food Safety Marketing. Currently, she is involved in the Diamond Hats Organization, which supports young females in agriculture at the Oklahoma Youth Expo and the EDGE mentorship program.

From left to right: Dr. Paul Ebner, Bailey Graham, Barry Delks, Shikha Adhikari
Zachary Tucker was another Early Career Award recipient. He graduated from Purdue in 2012 and received a degree in animal sciences. He also received a master’s degree from Purdue in agricultural economics and a Master of Business Administration degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
Tucker is a fourth-generation family member of Maple Leaf Farms, Inc., which is known as a global leader in duck production and breeding. He has been working at the company full-time for over 11 years and is now the Director of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Tucker is on the Family Council and is the Philanthropy Committee chair; furthermore, he will join the board of directors for Maple Leaf Farms later this year.
From left to right: Katie Wininger, Zachary Tucker, Dr. Paul Ebner
Dr. Kelli Werling also received the Early Career Award. She graduated from Purdue in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences and a minor in biological sciences. She also received a degree from the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine in 2017 and joined the Indiana State Board of Animal Health where she is now the Senior Director of Operations and Director of Swine Health.
Werling is a member of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the United States Animal Health Association and a foreign disease diagnostician. At Purdue, she is a representative of the Purdue Veterinary Alumni Association board of directors, member of the College of Agriculture Alumni Mentorship Program and is president of the Stewart Cooperative Alumni board.
From left to right: Dr. Paul Ebner, Dr. Kelli Werling, Natsume Narasaki

James Bishop was awarded the Mid-Career Award. He graduated from Purdue in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences. He also received his master’s degree in animal sciences from Purdue in 1997. While at Purdue, Bishop received the Outstanding Student in Animal Sciences recognition all four years of his undergraduate career.

Bishop has invested over 20 years in life-science organizations. He studied what makes great leaders while developing high-efficiency teams and outstanding cultures.

Bishop launched Conjunction Leadership in 2020. Conjunction Leadership provides coaching to industry executives, which helps them become adaptable and excellent leaders.

From left to right: Alyson Galey, James Bishop, Dr. Paul Ebner
Dr. Mark Diekman was awarded the Lifetime Award. He earned two animal sciences degrees from Purdue. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1970 and his master’s degree in 1972. He has also acquired degrees from Vincennes University and Colorado State University. Additionally, he completed postdoctoral research at Iowa State University.
Diekman joined Purdue in 1979 as an assistant professor in animal sciences. He was promoted to full professor by 1989. He lead a research program to resolve swine reproductive inefficiency from 1979 to 1999. During his career at Purdue, he has published 83 referred papers and 92 abstracts.
In 1997, Diekman took on the role of undergraduate program coordinator in the animal sciences department and stayed in the role until he retired in 2016 and was appointed professor emeritus.
Diekman is the only faculty member in the College of Agriculture to earn the Young Agricultural Research Award, outstanding counselor in the College of Agriculture and the PACADA advising award. He has also received the Dean Bev Stone Award for non-academic advising in 2007 and the university’s Distinguished Service Award in 2021.
From left to right: Kelly Curry, Dr. Mark Diekman, Dr. Paul Ebner
Mark Legan was also a Lifetime Award recipient. He graduated from Purdue with a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences in 1982. He also earned a master’s degree in extension education in 1985.
Legan served as a Purdue Extension agent for seven years prior to starting a farming operation. Currently, he owns and operates Legan Livestock & Grain, Inc., which is located in Putnam County, Indiana. It consists of a 2,200 sow farrow-to-finish operation and about 1,100 acres of corn and soybeans. The operation finishes around 60,000 pigs annually.
Legan has been a member and past president of the Indiana Pork Producers Association and has served on the boards of the National Pork Producers Council, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana Board of Animal Health and the U.S. Meat Export Federation executive committee. Legan has also served on various committees and boards for Purdue and other organizations at many different levels.
From left to right: Dr. Paul Ebner, Mark Legan, Hadley James


Nominations for the 2025 Animal Sciences Distinguished Alumni Awards will be accepted beginning in October 2024. Click HERE for more information on criteria for nominations.

Story by: Katy Kinker