The Beginning

Educational Path

Career Path

Academic Focus

Research Synopsis

Recent Highlights

A Word About Shepherds

Special Thanks

Educational Path

Degrees Awarded

University of Massachusetts
University of Guelph
University of Manitoba

My academic adventure began in the fall of 1964 at the University of Massachusetts. The adventure continued at two Canadian universities, the first in Guelph, Ontario, and the second in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I had the opportunity in Canada to do graduate studies with professors who were working in an area that had sparked my interest as an undergraduate student, reproductive physiology. All three degree programs were based in Departments of Animal Science, although much of my Ph.D. research was done in Health Sciences.

B.Sc. Program

Undergraduate studies built on the educational foundation of earlier years and provided, mainly through the humanities, a sense of what universities and standards of excellence were all about. The code of conduct for those in academia was demonstrated not only in literature, but in the lives of the professors that I knew. A defining moment in the direction my studies would take came when I took a course in animal reproduction in the Department of Animal Science. The course was taught by Dr. Wallace Black, who captured students' imaginations with his lectures. His enthusiasm for teaching and physiology was contagious!

M.Sc. Program

The masters program introduced me to the field of male reproduction (andrology). Under the direction of Dr. Gordon King, I conducted two experiments related to the preservation of boar spermatozoa (see Scientific Articles 63 and 64). By the time that I left the University of Guelph, I was well acquainted with semen collection, evaluation, cryopreservation and insemination techniques for most of the domestic livestock species. Dr. King and his associate, Dr. John Macpherson, were pioneers in this area in Canada.

Ph.D. Program

I left beautiful southern Ontario for the unique charm of the Canadian prairies, specifically to work with Dr. W. Martyn Palmer. He and a colleague of his in the Department of Oral Biology, Dr. Borden Howland, were conducting endocrine studies on sheep. I would investigate reproductive-endocrine patterns in the ram, while another of his Ph.D. students examined hormonal patterns in the ewe. These were exciting times in endocrine research. Newly developed radioimmunoassays were permiting the measurement of minute quantities of hormone in peripheral blood for the first time. Our initial findings that LH (pituitary hormone) and testosterone (testicular hormone) were secreted in bursts rather than in a steady state, and that a burst in LH secretion quickly triggered a burst in testosterone secretion, were big news in 1973! We went on to examine the effects of season, sexual activity, breed type and age on these extremely important hormonal pulse patterns (see Scientific Articles 46, 55, 57, 60-62).

An example of our original observations of LH and testosterone pulses in rams is given in the figure below. Blood samples were collected from an adult Finnish Landrace ram in August, about one month before the onset of the breeding season of sheep in southern Manitoba (latitude 50°N).


Photograph courtesy of the
Alberta Sheep Breeders' Association

2008 L. Sanford. Email