Dr. Donald Spiers (Associate Professor) obtained both his B.S. (biology) and M.S. (zoology) degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and his Ph.D. (physiology) from Michigan State University. After receiving his Ph.D. degree, he was a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Melvin Fregly’s laboratory at the University of Florida. Following this period, he worked as an associate fellow at the John B. Pierce Foundation in New Haven, Connecticut. At the same time, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale University in New Haven.
In 1991, Dr. Spiers accepted a position as associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of Missouri. He has served as manager of the Brody Environmental Center since this time. His teaching activities during this period have included an undergraduate course in domestic animal physiology (lecture/laboratory) and a graduate course in environmental physiology (lecture).
The central theme of Dr. Spiers’ research has been the study of animal response to thermal stress. Prior to his time at the University of Missouri, he worked with a variety of animals that included rats, quail, and squirrel monkeys. In his current position, he has concentrated on thermal stress problems that are associated with swine, dairy, and beef cattle.
In many cases, he has utilized small animal models (rats, mice) to better understand these problems. Projects over the last 10 years have included studies of strategic cooling of dairy cows, development of models to define the thermal response of feedlot cattle to heat stress, and approaches to reduce the impact of fescue toxicosis. More recently, he has initiated studies to examine the genomics of heat stress in cattle with the goal of identifying markers of resistance and adaptation to environmental challenge.