Sally Johnson, professor of animal and poultry science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been reappointed as the Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Agriculture by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands and Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke.

The Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Agriculture was created in 1988 by Mellon, a former member of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and founder of The Old Dominion Foundation. The professorship supports faculty who conduct research in equine nutrition, physiology, growth, and locomotion, and encourages collaboration with equine-focused faculty on the Blacksburg campus with those at the Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Recipients hold the professorship for a period of five years.

Johnson, who has held the title of Mellon Distinguished Professor since 2013, is an internationally known scholar who seeks to uncover the biological mechanisms that mediate tendon and muscle progenitor cell activity during periods of growth and damage repair in horses. 

She has a strong record of publications in high-impact journals. Johnson has also been successful at obtaining funding for her research program and collaborations. Among these grants are a number highly competitive U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) grants, and several more grants have been funded by industry groups which attest to the importance and relevance of her research program to the equine industry. 

In addition to her research, Johnson serves as the graduate program director for the Department of Animal and Poultry Science. Both the size and overall quality of the department’s graduate program have increased since she became chair in 2014, and she has enhanced the recruitment of traditionally underserved and underrepresented students into the animal and poultry science graduate program. 

Johnson received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.