Mississippi State University has named John Blanton, Jr., a researcher with 20 years of experience in animal and food science, head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science.

He has worked as a research programs manager at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., since 2008. He gained faculty and administrative experience at Texas Tech University and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, along with industry experience from KVS Service in Georgetown, Del., and Intervet, Inc., now Schering-Plough, in Millsboro, Del.

“Dr. Blanton is coming to an MSU department with an outstanding record of teaching, research and service, and we are confident that record will only get better under his leadership,” said George Hopper, dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences which includes the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences.

Blanton earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State University in animal science and population genetics, respectively. He earned a doctoral degree in muscle biology from Purdue University.

“Mississippi’s livestock and dairy industries are important contributors to the state’s economy, and our ability to support these industries is vital to their stability,” said Gary Jackson, director of the MSU Extension Service. “We are pleased with the experience and expertise Dr. Blanton will bring to this department.”

Blanton will assume his duties Dec. 1, replacing Mark Crenshaw, who served as interim department head since 2011. MSU’s Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences includes faculty with appointments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the MSU Extension Service.