Ryan Yamka, PhD


Founder and Independent Consultant


Luna Science and Nutrition

Presentation Description:

Evaluation of black soldier fly larvae as a protein and fat source in pet foods – Ryan Yamka, Ph.D., founder of Luna Science and Nutrition, presents data on the impact of black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) meal and oil on acceptability, stool quality and digestibility in pet foods. BSFL are rich in protein, lauric acid and linoleic acid. As a result, they have a high potential for used in animal foods. To date, BSFL (whole and defatted-ground) have been approved by the FDA for use in salmonids and poultry. Yamka’s presentation will focus on the use of BSFL meal (defatted-ground) and BSFL oil as protein and fat source for companion animals.


Yamka earned bachelor’s degrees in animal science and biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, followed by a master’s degree and doctorate in animal science from the University of Kentucky and an MBA from Baker University. He started his career at Hill’s Pet Nutrition in research and product development. Yamka’s research has focused on genomics, weight management, amino acid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, fiber utilization and technologies for alternative testing. He maintained a critical role in the development and implementation of many new and innovative products for companion animals and was active in the application of new technologies for several of Hill’s weight management products as well as developing a urine pH prediction model for felines. Yamka also worked for Hartz Mountain Corp. as senior director for nutrition and wellness and as senior vice president of R&D, QA and nutrition for Blue Buffalo before and after the company went public. While at Blue, he built and led a team that successfully developed and launched more than 250 new products in the veterinary, dry, wet, meat roll, treat and litter categories. In 2016, Yamka founded Luna Science and Nutrition, LLC. Yamka currently serves as an advisory board member for Bond Pets, LLC and PetMio and is the chief scientific officer for Earth Animal Ventures. In 2017, he co-founded Guardian Pet Food Company. He is a certified professional animal scientist (PAS), board certified with the American College of Animal Sciences (Dipl. ACAS) in nutrition, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition (FACN) and, in 2011, received the ASAS Corbin Companion Animal Biology Award. He has published numerous manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters, and has 50 patents granted. He writes blogs for Petfood Industry magazine debunking pet food myths and misconceptions and has been featured multiple times on the Radio Pet Lady podcast.