Cristian Flores Figueroa and Jeannette Munoz Aguayo were awarded the inaugural Unsung Heroes Award at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association (MTGA) Summer Conference held recently in Duluth, Minn. The awardees are technicians with the University of Minnesota’s MidCentral Outreach Center (MCROC) and were recognized for their development of an early Avian Influenza (AI) detection tool. By sampling the drinking water in turkey barns, this technique is able to pick up the virus two to three days before clinical signs show up in a flock. Their contributions and research have greatly improved early detection of AI in flocks.

MTGA Executive Director Steve Olson said, “These two scientists were able to take a molecular biology laboratory from a handful of samples per day to hundreds in a very short time. They opened their lab to our industry and have run a plethora of emergency samples at all hours of the day and worked countless weekends. We are grateful for their expertise and many hours of service.”