R. Michael Akers, professor and former head of the Department of Dairy Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor Emeritus of Dairy Science by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive a copy of the resolution and a certificate of appreciation.

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 and was named the Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin Professor of Dairy Science in 1996. He became head of the Department of Dairy Science in 2004.

His research focused on the interactions between hormones and growth factors to regulate and control mammary growth and development and how early neonatal nutrition impacts this development and influences future animal health and performance. This work 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 was the author or co-author of 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.

Akers served as section editor for the Journal of Dairy Science, was on the editorial boards of three additional journals, and served as an ad hoc reviewer for more than 40 other scientific journals. He 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.

In the classroom, Akers taught animal anatomy and physiology, mentored many undergraduate and graduate students, and fostered their growth and development for successful careers in industry and academia.

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

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

Related story:

New Dairy Science Complex - Kentland Farm bolsters program, contributes to the land-grant mission