Seeking truth: meet the deacon who is a forensic scientist

Details from the Times-Republican in Iowa:

Some may call it CSI with animals, but Gary Pusillo prefers to call his work forensic science.

Pusillo, a rural Marshalltown resident, runs his own company, INTI Services, that investigates problems in animal husbandry. He travels across the country and abroad.

Pusillo is often called to farms that supply food to major corporations that could have animals dying or getting sick and he looks for the cause.

He looks at the feed, medications, water, soil, air quality, environment, comfort and blood samples of the animals.

He’ll often do a thorough investigation of the farm for several days then bring samples back to his lab for further research.

“It’s putting together a puzzle,” Pusillo said of his work. “It’s no different than a mystery.”

Pusillo, 54, a married father of three adult children, is a native of New Jersey and moved to Iowa more than two decades ago to work with Iowa State University.

He was recently recognized with an achievement award from the American Academy of Forensic Science. One of the reasons he won the award was the way he has adapted technology to use on animals. For instance, he uses a laser thermometer to take the temperature of animals, and their feed.

“We’ve adapted so much technology that’s out there for use in animals,” Pusillo said.

He was presented the award during a convention in Washington, D.C. in late February.

“It was extremely humbling to be in the presence of people who are world renowned,” he said. “To be one of them is humbling.”

When Pusillo is not helping determine the cause of a problems on a farm, he is doing his other gig in providing nutritional programs for animals including the top level race horses. He said this work has led him to be a part of the nutrition of 14 Kentucky Derby winners including the 2012 winner, I’ll Have Another.

As if his job doesn’t keep him on the go enough, Pusillo is also a local Catholic deacon. He said both his job and his religious life are similar as they seek the truth.

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