John Murray Elliot, animal nutrition expert, dies at 92

John Murray Elliot, Ph.D. ’58, professor emeritus of animal science and former department chair, died Nov. 26 in Ithaca. He was 92.

Elliot was known for his teaching as well as his nutritional science research in ruminants.

John Murray Elliot

“Professor Elliot had a distinguished career of more than 30 years in the Department of Animal Science,” said Tom Overton, professor of animal science and interim department chair. “Among his primary contributions to our scientific understanding of dairy cattle nutrition and metabolism were his work in vitamin B12 and glucose metabolism as well as pioneering work to measure various aspects of quantitative glucose metabolism using sophisticated, cutting-edge methodologies.”

Born in Howick, Quebec, in 1927, Elliot earned a bachelor’s from McGill University in 1949, and a master’s from the University of Vermont in 1951, before completing his doctorate in animal nutrition at Cornell.

He worked on and off as an instructor and assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts from 1950-60.

He joined Cornell’s faculty in 1960, teaching an introductory course in animal science while also conducting research on animal nutrition. Elliot and colleagues were the first researchers to place catheters in abdominal and liver-related veins in lactating cows to gain quantitative data on the absorption of metabolites from the gut and the generation of glucose by the liver. He also studied and published on ketosis in ruminants.

From 1983 until he retired in 1991, he served as chair of the Department of Animal Science and was named professor emeritus upon his retirement.

“He had a strong teaching presence and provided excellent leadership as department chair during a period of significant evolution,” Overton said.

The American Dairy Science Association recognized him with a national award for outstanding teaching in 1982 and named him a fellow in 1998. Among many roles over the years, he also served as president of the association’s Eastern division, and later, as national chairman of the production division.

He was also a member of the American Society of Animal Science and the American Institute of Nutrition.

He was predeceased by his wife, Jane, and is survived by two sons, a brother and a sister. At Elliot’s request, there will be no calling hours.

A memorial event may be planned through the Department of Animal Science at a future date.

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Abby Butler