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Penn State Professor Receives Poultry Science Association Award

Posted: August 8, 2015

Alan Johnson, Ph.D., received the Zoetis Fundamental Science Award at the 104th annual meeting of the Poultry Science Association in July.

Alan L. Johnson, Ph.D., Walther H. Ott Professor in Avian Biology and Professor of Reproductive Biology in Penn State's Department of Animal Science, received the Zoetis Fundamental Science Award at the 104th annual meeting of the Poultry Science Association held in July at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement in basic disciplines - genetics, genomics, immunology, molecular, cellular and developmental biology, physiology, poultry health and proteomics. Zoetis, an animal health company, presented the plaque and a $1,000 award. 

Johnson has been at Penn State since 2009.  He began his academic career at Rutgers University's Department of Animal Science in 1981 and became full professor; in 1993 he moved to the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.

Dr. Terry Etherton, Head of the Department of Animal Science, said, "I offer most sincere congratulations to Dr. Johnson for this well-deserved recognition of the contributions he has made to the poultry industry. His basic science research continues to have a practical impact on understanding ovarian function and reproductive efficiency. The award is a wonderful tribute to the importance of his ongoing work, which is recognized internationally."

Johnson received both his undergraduate and Master's degrees in Zoology from the University of Vermont. He received his Ph.D. in 1979 from the Graduate Program in Physiology at Cornell University working in the Department of Poultry and Avian Science under the guidance of Dr. Ari van Tienhoven. Johnson stayed on at Cornell to complete a three-year postdoctoral program funded by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant.

His research has focused on ovarian function in the hen, and in particular, the regulation of ovarian follicle growth and differentiation. This work has been continuously supported by grants from the NIH, USDA Competitive Grants Program, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation. The significance of these studies pertains to improving reproductive efficiency within the poultry industry, together with understanding unique evolutionary adaptations of reproductive processes between the avian and mammalian lineages.

Johnson has authored/coauthored more than 130 research publications together with 10 book chapters. His primary teaching commitments have included lecture and laboratory courses on comparative and integrative physiology, vertebrate biology and reproductive physiology. Johnson was the Recipient of the Shilts-Leonard Teaching Award for the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. In addition, he has mentored seven Master's and seven Ph.D. degree students, together with nine post-doctoral Research Associates.

Johnson previously served as Program Chair for the 1989 Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting (at the University of Wisconsin, Madison) and the 2005 Society for the Study of Reproduction Annual meeting (Quebec City), as an associate editor of Poultry Science, and currently serves as a section editor for Physiology and Reproduction.