R. Michael Akers, head of the Department of Dairy Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, was recently reappointed the Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences by Virginia Tech President Timothy D. Sands and Executive Vice President and Provost Thanassis Rikakis.

The professorship was established in 1995 through the gifts of Col. Horace E. Alphin, a member of the Virginia Tech Class of 1934, and his wife, Elizabeth, to further scholarly endeavors in the area of agriculture and life sciences. The term of the professorship is five years.

Akers was a research physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture before joining the Virginia Tech faculty as an associate professor in 1981. He was promoted to full professor in 1992.  He was named the Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor of Dairy Science in 1996 and became head of the Department of Dairy Science in 2004.

Akers has authored or co-authored three books and more than 200 peer-reviewed scholarly publications, including journal articles, book chapters, and conference proceedings. He has also co-authored more than 250 scientific abstracts.

He has made numerous national and international presentations. He has served as section editor for the Journal of Dairy Science, served on the editorial boards of three additional journals, and served as an ad hoc reviewer for more than 41 other scientific journals. He has also served on numerous committees of the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) and was on the board of directors of the ADSA.

Akers has received many major awards for research excellence, including the Agway Young Scientist Award, the American Dairy Science Borden Award, and the American Society of Animal Science, Animal Growth and Development award. In 2006 he was named a Fellow of the American Dairy Science Association.

At Virginia Tech, he received the Virginia Tech Alumni Research Award for Excellence in 2000.

His research involves work to better understand interactions between hormones and growth factors to regulate and control mammary growth and development. Recent studies have focused on how early neonatal nutrition impacts this development and influences future animal health and performance. This work has included use of quantitative multispectral imaging to measure expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors in mammary cells and efforts to identify populations of mammary stem cells.

Akers received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.

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