Dr. Tom Porter Named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

National Honor Recognizes Outstanding Scientific Contributions

Tom Porter

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

May 8, 2024 Jonathan Stephanoff

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has announced the 2023 Fellows–a list of 502 scientists and engineers that includes Tom Porter, Distinguished University of Maryland Professor and interim chair of the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences.

“It’s a huge honor and a big deal,” Dr. Porter said, adding that “it raises the notoriety and prestige of Animal and Avian Sciences as a department.” Dr. Porter has many awards and recognitions hanging on his wall, but he quickly noted becoming an AAAS Fellow is one of the big ones, along with becoming a Poultry Science Association Fellow (2016) and Distinguished University Professor (2023).

Dr. Porter is a globally recognized professor and researcher specializing in molecular and cellular endocrinology in poultry with research in three key areas: regulating growth in broiler chickens, controlling reproduction in turkey hens, and alleviating heat stress in broiler chickens. He and his colleagues sequenced and identified half of the chicken genes before the full genome was sequenced, and he is known for his research on pituitary gland function with impacts on poultry growth and reproduction. His work has practical applications that contribute to improving global food security by boosting poultry production.

When he received word he was named a Fellow, Dr. Porter said, “my first response was I felt relieved.” He knew the criteria needed to be named a Fellow and the caliber of the three professional colleagues and AAAS Fellows nominating him, and he explained had he not been named a Fellow he did not feel there was much more he could do to earn it in future years.

“Dr. Porter’s widely respected work in the area of poultry growth has resulted in a healthier, more economical food supply for our nation and for the world,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “We’re proud his research on our campus is making the world a better place.”

Porter has been funded for 33 consecutive years across all three thrust areas, gaining over $28 million in external awards. He’s also a very highly cited researcher with more than 3,800 references to his research. 93 of his manuscripts have been cited more than 10 different times. Throughout his career he has published 113 peer reviewed manuscripts, almost all of which include findings on the pituitary gland. 

“We are so incredibly proud of Tom and all that he has accomplished throughout his decorated career,” said Dean Craig Beyrouty. “He is truly a pioneer in advancing food security through enhanced poultry production and one of the reasons why our Animal and Avian Sciences Department is in such high demand for UMD students.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is one of the world’s most prominent scientific societies and publisher of the Science family of journals. Founded in 1848, AAAS serves as a leading voice in advocating for scientific research, education, and policy development. Through its various programs and initiatives, AAAS plays a crucial role in fostering scientific discovery, promoting evidence-based policymaking, and enhancing public understanding of science and its societal impacts.

“As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the AAAS Fellows Program, AAAS is proud to recognize the newly elected individuals. This year’s class embodies scientific excellence, fosters trust in science throughout the communities they serve, and leads the next generation of scientists while advancing scientific achievements,” said Sudip S. Parikh, Ph.D., AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of Science, in the Fellows press release.

Dr. Porter said he has been a subscribed member of AAAS going back to 1990, excluding a year or two he might have missed renewing. “Back then, that was how you found a job,” he said referring to the open academic and research positions printed in the back of the journal editions. Today, Dr. Porter values the research roundup emails that Science sends out as a way to keep up with trends in science and research fields.