Temple Grandin, a world-renowned autism activist, best-selling author, and authority on animal welfare and behavior, is visiting Virginia Tech on Thursday, Dec. 4 to give a series of free talks to both the university community and the public. 

Grandin was diagnosed with severe autism as a child but mentoring from her high school science teacher and her aunt motivated her to pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer. She went on to get a Ph.D. in animal science from the University of Illinois and has written extensively on her work designing animal handling facilities. 

Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she has designed for meat plants. She has developed animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consults with major food industry clients on animal welfare.

She is the considered to be the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.

In an event open only to Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, Grandin will discuss, “Basic Principles of Livestock Behavior,” on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute auditorium. A free, live stream of the event will be available to the public on the Web. Viewers can check their connection before the show. 

From 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. the same day, Grandin will give a talk, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds,” in the Quillen Family Auditorium in Goodwin Hall on the corner of Prices Fork Road and Stanger Street. The event is free and open the public. 

Grandin’s visit is being sponsored by the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with support from the Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research.

Grandin has been featured in The New York Times, on National Public Radio, and was the subject of an HBO movie. She has authored numerous books, including, “The Autistic Brain,” “Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals,” “Improving Animal welfare: A Practical Approach,” and “Different Not Less.”

Grandin has received many awards including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute; was named a Distinguished Alumni at Franklin Pierce College; and received an honorary doctorate from McGill University, University of Illinois, and Duke University. She has also won prestigious industry awards including the Richard L. Knowlton Award from Meat Marketing and Technology Magazine, the Industry Advancement Award from the American Meat Institute, the Beef Top 40 industry leaders, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 

For information on the afternoon event, email Luciana Bergamasco in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences or call her at 540-231-9998. For information on the evening event, email Angela Scarpa at the Virginia Tech Center for Autism Research or call her at 540-231-8747.