COLLEGE STATION - Gary R. Acuff has been named head of the department of animal science at Texas A&M University. He assumed his new duties on Aug. 1.

Acuff is a professor of food microbiology and a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station faculty fellow. He has served as the department's interim head since Nov. 1.

"Dr. Acuff has done a tremendous job leading this department as interim head the last six months," said Dr. Elsa Murano, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences, who made the announcement.

"I have no doubt with the support of the faculty, he will lead the department to excellence," Murano said. Acuff is committed to helping her administration fulfill its land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension, she said.

Acuff said his primary vision as the new department head is to serve the faculty.

"I represent an outstanding group of faculty members," he said. "I'm really humbled they've asked me to serve in an administrative role. My goal is to help them interact and collaborate, find research funding where I can, and help organize the department."

Prior to the appointment as department head, Acuff taught undergraduate and graduate courses and labs in food microbiology, and conducted research on food quality and safety. He also taught food microbiology to federal meat and poultry inspectors for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Acuff earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Abilene Christian University and a master's degree and doctorate in food science and technology from Texas A&M.

He is a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the Society for Applied Microbiology, and the Institute of Food Technologists. Acuff serves on the executive board of the National Association of Food Protection.

With about 750 undergraduate and 175 graduate students, the department of animal science at Texas A&M is one of the largest in the country. Sixty-five faculty members are headquartered on campus and throughout the state.