Akers focusing on emergency preparedness

A Mississippi State University Extension Service assistant professor will help the university and organizations around the state prepare for disaster situations.

Ryan Akers is a newly appointed assistant professor in MSU's School of Human Sciences and with the Center for Government Training and Technology. He will provide statewide leadership in the development and implementation of Extension emergency management programming. The curriculums will be of use to emergency managers, communicators, first responders and those involved with food safety and agriculture security.

Before joining Extension, Akers was a research associate with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. He conducted research related to disaster management and preparation for low-resource communities and higher education institutions.

"Dr. Akers' background working with emergency management officials at all levels of government has given him the experience to take on this new role," said Sumner Davis, interim leader of MSU's Center for Governmental Training and Technology. "He will be a vital part of increasing the educational opportunities for those charged with safeguarding the people of Mississippi."

Akers will work with local governments, Extension agents, student groups and campus officials to help them prepare for and respond to crisis situations. He will also teach emergency professionals across the state how to promote safety and prepare their communities for emergencies such as natural disasters and threats to food or agriculture safety.

"Dr. Akers' national reputation makes him uniquely qualified to handle this important role," said Michael Newman, director of the School of Human Sciences. "We know we will face crises -- whether caused by humans or weather-related. I see Dr. Akers' role as helping us better able to manage these situations successfully."

Akers looks forward to serving his home state in his new capacity.

"I have seen the destruction and devastation caused by disasters over the course of my lifetime. However, I have also observed an overwhelming resolve and the hard work of our citizens to come together and rebuild," he said. "I have a devout admiration for the resiliency of our communities, and I look forward to working with a great team within MSU Extension and with the multitude of response and recovery officials across the state."

Akers earned his bachelor's degree from Delta State University and a master's degree in counselor education from MSU. He earned his doctorate in student affairs administration from the University of Georgia and also completed a one-year community preparedness and disaster management advanced certification program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Akers has completed two Harvard University executive seminars regarding leadership in crisis and has served in a variety of national, regional and state-level leadership roles related to emergency management.

Karen Templeton | Agricultural Communications

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