Akers named first Alphin professorBy Stewart MacInnis
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 31 - May 9, 1996
R. Michael Akers has been named the first Horace E. and Elizabeth F. Alphin professor of dairy science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
A faculty member in the Department of Dairy Science since 1981, Akers was selected to a 10-year appointment to the named professorship by the university's Board of Visitors.
The professorship is endowed by a gift from Horace E. Alphin and his wife, Elizabeth. Alphin is a 1934 dairy sciences graduate of the university. He worked with the Extension service in North Carolina before wartime service in the Army led to a 26-year military career. In 1967 he retired from the military with the rank of colonel, and began work as personnel director for a Washington hospital until 1979. He then became a land developer in Northern Virginia.
Alphin's other gifts to the university helped establish a radiology center in the College of Veterinary Medicine and named scholarships in the Department of Dairy Science and for the Corps of Cadets.
Akers conducts research concerning growth-factor regulation of mammary development and hormonal control of lactation, most recently by use of transgenic animals and cells. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. He is a respected, widely published researcher in his field, having been awarded the Agway Young Scientist Award in 1986 and the 1993 Borden Award from the American Dairy Science Association, as well as the Research Award of Merit this year from the university chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta, an agriculture honor society.
Akers earned an associate's degree in pre-teacher education from Wytheville Community College, a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in dairy science from Virginia Tech, and earned a Ph.D. in dairy science from Michigan State University. He served as a research physiologist at the USDA Milk Secretion and Mastitis Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech.