Legacy Series, Dr. Peter J. Van Soest

Posted: März 1, 2022


Dr. Mary Beth Hall, USDA; Dr. Mike Van Amburgh, Cornell University; Dr. David Mertens, Mertens Innovation & Research

Co-host: Dr. Clay Zimmerman, Balchem

Episode 38: Legacy Series, Dr. Peter J. Van Soest

Podcast Topic

Today’s episode is a fan-favorite, the Legacy Series. In this series we celebrate the pioneers of the industry, take a look back at their research, their impact and their lives. Specifically today we are honoring and memorializing Dr. Peter J. Van Soest. Dr. Soest passed away in March of 2021, but his legacy will forever be felt in the animal nutrition world.

In this episode, we hear from three students of Dr. Van Soest who have gone on to illustrious careers of their own. Dr. Mary Beth Hall with USDA, Dr. Mike Van Amburgh from Cornell and Dr. David Mertens with Mertens Innovation & Research.


Dr. Mertens said that Dr. Van Soest started his career at USDARS, and was given the mission to create an alternative to crude fiber. The breakthrough came from his knowledge of biochemistry and his work at Walter Reed hospital. Dr. Soest used detergents to remove protein from feed so you could measure fiber. (13:35)

Dr. Hall emphasized that one of Dr. Van Soest’s legacies lives through the students he trained and the students they trained. Dr. Van Soest passed on the idea that you don’t stop with what you have and say it’s good enough. If new information presents itself, you consider them and test them and move on from there. (21:37)

Dr. Amburgh spoke about the lectures from Dr. Van Soest that are being digitized and will be available to listen to, which includes his popular periodic table lecture. (41:15)

Dr. Mertens recommended reading Dr. Van Soest papers on the development of ADF or NDF and AOAC. They give you an insight into how he did what he did – which was built on nothing that was done before. (56:12)

Dr. Amburgh believes that Dr. Van Soest’s legacy is teaching people how to think. He had a tremendous thought process and it wasn’t whether you were right or wrong, it was about what you learned in the process of thinking through all that. (1:10:53)

If you’d like to find Dr. Van Soest’s book, you can find it here on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3sYFpiX

If you want one of our new Real Science Exchange t-shirts, make sure to screenshot your rating, review or subscription, and email a picture to [email protected]. Include your size and mailing address and we’ll get a shirt in the mail to you.

Please subscribe and share with your dairy industry friends to bring more friends to join us around the Real Science Exchange virtual pub table.

This podcast is sponsored by Balchem Animal Nutrition and Health.