Richard Gates, director of Egg Industry Center, dies at age 67

Well known in the poultry industry, his work encompassed research, teaching and extension over more than 35 years.

Richard Gates
Richard Gates
Courtesy Egg Industry Center

Dr. Richard S. Gates, 67, director of the Egg Industry Center, died on November 8, 2023.

Gates was born on May 1, 1956, in Plymouth, Minnesota, to David Stephen Gates and Margaret Byrd (Miller) Gates. He graduated from Rockford High School in 1974 and went on to study at the University of Minnesota, where he received a Bachelor of Science in agricultural engineering in 1978. He continued his education, earning a master’s degree in agricultural engineering in 1980 and doctoral degree in biological engineering in 1984, both from Cornell University. He met Celia M. Osada while studying at Cornell, and they married on August 14, 1982, in Camillus, New York.

The oldest of six children, Gates spent time working the farm by cultivating row crops and alfalfa, breeding pigs and Hereford cattle, and running a tree farm with his mother. Alongside his siblings, he helped his dad in his construction business, doing everything from building homes to renovating businesses.

Gates joined Iowa State University (ISU) with a joint professorial appointment in the Departments of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and Animal Science. He arrived at ISU after a great career in the land grant system which included time at the University of Kentucky and the University of Illinois. During his time at those institutions, Gates’ work impacted more than 110 students in the U.S. and abroad.

His work encompassed research, teaching and extension, all centered on controlled environment agriculture, with an emphasis on ventilation, control systems and physiological responses of animals with their environment. He also conducted research on animal welfare, precision livestock farming, post-harvest loss, and greenhouse ventilation. His extension work specialized in applying research to address issues related to efficient livestock production, including air emissions and their mitigation, odor control and facility siting, environmental control systems, avian influenza prevention, emergency ventilation shutdown, manure management, and strategies for reducing heat stress. He held a patent and had developed eight inventions in these fields, now widely adopted in the agricultural equipment industry across the U.S. and Europe.

Gates served as chair of the University of Kentucky Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering from 2002 to 2007, and briefly as acting chair for the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University in 2020. His extensive research portfolio included more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, more than 400 presentations and invited lectures across the world, and many popular press articles.

At the time of his death, Gates was director of the Egg Industry Center. During his time there, he advanced research on thermal perches; several processing, cartoning and transportation studies; numerous rounds of grant funding provided by EIC; COVID impact reports; the Center’s first report comparing the cost of conventional and cage-free egg production; and more.

Gates was a licensed professional engineer and a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ASABE) for more than 40 years, earning the prestigious ASABE fellowship in 2010. He had been a devoted member of the Poultry Science Association for more than 35 years and a longstanding contributor to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers for more than 25 years. Throughout his illustrious career, he received numerous awards, including two Presidential Citations and the Henry Giese Structures and Environment Award (ASABE), Outstanding Teacher Award (University of Kentucky), two advising awards (University of Illinois).

He is survived by his wife, Celia Gates; his mother, Margaret Gates; four brothers, John (Cathryn) Gates, David Jr. (Donna) Gates, Will (Kerri) Gates, Ted (Linda) Gates; one sister, Lois Gates; one daughter, Yijie Xiong, and two nephews, Sam (fiancé Amanda) Gates, and Henry (Paige) Gates.

He was preceded in death by his father, David Gates.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to be directed toward the Egg Industry Center and William R. Bliss Cancer Center at Ames. Cards and letters can be sent to P.O. Box 188, 525 Kellogg Ave, Ames, IA 50010. Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Gates family.

No services are scheduled.

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