Elmer Hughes was born at Rewey, Wisconsin in 1887. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture in 1912, an MA in 1916, and a PhD in 1935, all from the University of Wisconsin. He taught Animal Husbandry and superintended farm operations at the University of Missouri from 1913 to 1917. For the next three years he was Supervisor of Short Courses and Assistant to the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Missouri.
Dr. Hughes came to the University of California in 1920 as a specialist in swine. He was a pioneer in studying the deficiencies of barley as a feed for the pig. His researches with purified diets led to establishing requirements for vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, nicotinic acid, and pantothenic acid in swine.
He became one of the best known judges of swine in the West. From 1951 through 1975 the Elmer Hughes Memorial Perpetual Trophy was awarded to the top Pen of 5 Fat Barrows at the Grand National Livestock Exposition at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.
In 1948 he became head of the Department of Animal Husbandry at UC Davis, a position he held until his death in 1951.
Elmer Hughes took a great interest in students and was a fine teacher. His enthusiasm and the clarity of his presentation endeared him to those students privileged to take his courses. His memory was honored by the establishment of a scholarship for an undergraduate student and by the naming of Hughes Hall for student housing.