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DAA: Chris D. Knight

Chris Knight

Chris D. Knight

St. Charles, MO | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2009

There’s a compatible continuum represented by the research and business development projects spearheaded by Chris Knight—one that starts with feed supplements animal producers use to promote healthy stock, and stretches to our economy, environment and, ultimately, our homes. As Vice President of Research and Development for Novus International, Inc., Knight develops innovative feed products and improves the predictability of their responses among a wide range of farm animals. Previously employed as a researcher for Monsanto, Knight joined Novus in 1991 and quickly expanded the company’s research to include product development in dairy cattle and swine. Among his most significant achievements was a research breakthrough showing that Novus’ ALIMET® Feed Supplement was the single most cost-effective source of post-ruminal methionine—a nutrient critical to the good health of lactating dairy cattle. Knight’s success resulted in a U.S. patent and a new Ruminant Business Unit. Today, this business represents about $700 million annually. Knight is credited with building Novus’ international technology foundation— leading the diversification of the company’s portfolio from several products to over 70; increasing employment from 150 to 500 people; and establishing research/development operations in 80 countries. “The opportunity to transform our company through interactions around the world is often daunting,” says Knight. “But we focus our efforts according to our customers’ challenges, which are food safety, animal welfare, and environmental protection.” In research, Knight aims for an 85–90 percent benefit predictability response. But in his own kitchen, the percentage rarely misses 100. As designated chef, Knight spends “ridiculous amounts of money making different kinds of recipes”—all in pursuit of a favorite hobby and a familyfriendly food chain. “The breadth of experience provided by Purdue had the most significant impact on me, and still connects to what I’m doing today—facing new research challenges, and finding the people to help solve them.”