Tag Archives: biochemistry

October Employee of the Month

img_3008-copyCongratulations to October Employee of the Month, Melanie Huffman!

Huffman is the fiscal coordinator in the Department of Biochemistry and had multiple nominators including Glenda Gillaspy, Karen Dove, and other members of the departmental office.

“In a nutshell, she helps us to accomplish more in a challenging funding environment,” said Gillaspy. “This involves managing our sponsored program accounts of more than $4 million a year, and numerous departmental accounts and purchases for faculty labs. She is a greatly respected member of our department who goes above and beyond to provide assistance with the many daily fiscal transactions necessary for the department to operate successfully.”

Her nominators called Huffman’s work ethic “exceptional.” Huffman provides valuable assistance to others within the department office calculating salaries, fringes, and figuring remaining balances on various accounts and sponsored projects in order to help faculty facilitate daily financial decisions. She makes herself available to help others figure out the best solution to many different challenging situations.We value her commitment to delivering excellent accountability in our fiscal office and being adaptable and flexible in working towards the goals of our department and individual research programs.

“Under her guidance, our fiscal operations run smoothly and efficiently.
We all appreciate the opportunity to work with her as her professional manner, coupled with her sense of humor, make her an absolute pleasure to have in the departmental office,” Gillaspy said.

Past winners include:

  • September 2016- Dumitru Branisteanu, field research technician  from the Department of Biological Systems Engineering
  • August 2016- April Mays, administrative assistant from Page County Virginia Cooperative Extension
  • July 2016- Chris Ellke, agricultural specialist, Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center
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Biochemistry roundup

Professor and Department Head Glenda Gillaspy and graduate student Phoebe Williams recently attended an international conference in Cambridge, England, where Gillaspy gave a talk on inositol pyrophosphates and energy sensing in plants.

Professor Bin Xu was recently awarded a grant from the Virginia Center on Aging. Xu is investigating the hormone peptide, amylin, which is an important regulator of blood glucose levels. Xu’s group has linked amylin to Alzheimer’s disease and is pursuing novel strategies for developing treatments.

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Scenes from the 2015 CALS picnic

Photos by William McKenzie

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Members of CALSSA hand out gift bags.

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Hethwood Market provided tasty lunch fare.


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Recent hires

CALS new hires

(between Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, 2014)

Full Name Job Title Hire Date Organization Description

CALS Faculty

Khadka, Manoj Postdoctoral Associate CY 10/09/14 Biochemistry

Extension Staff

Williams, Kimberly Unit Administrative Asst 10/03/14 Louisa Cooperative Extension
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Pablo Sobrado receives 2014 Award for Excellence in Basic Research

The 2014 Award for Excellence in Basic Research goes to Associate Professor of Biochemistry Pablo Sobrado.

Pablo Sobrado receiving award from Dean Alan Grant

Pablo Sobrado receiving award from Dean Alan Grant

Sobrado counts being a founding member of the Drug Discovery Consortium for Chagas’ Disease and the Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery among his many accomplishments. He has been recognized for his exceptional research by several regional, national, and international prizes, such as the Ralph E. Power Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, the Allan Gwathmey Chemistry Award, and the National Science Prize from Costa Rica. His list of notable high impact journals includes recognition by the Faculty of 1000, a group of world-renowned scientists who provide a review of high-impact research in the biological sciences.

Currently Sobrado is the principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation project totaling over $2.5 million.

Sobrado is receiving this award for his outstanding contributions to elucidation of novel enzyme mechanisms and drug discovery.

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From the Dean — August 2014

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

Dear Colleagues,

The weather was beautiful for the 19th annual faculty and staff awards ceremony and picnic on July 24.  It was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy camaraderie, share a great lunch, and celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of some of our faculty and staff.

This year’s Andy Swiger Award was presented to Glenda Gillaspy, professor of biochemistry. The Andy Swiger award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated both a talent for and a commitment to the fundamental elements of the land-grant mission of serving students and citizens both directly and through the generation of new knowledge. We were pleased that Andy Swiger was in attendance to help present the award. Glenda has demonstrated both a talent for and a commitment to the fundamental elements of the land-grant mission.

Pablo Sobrado, associate professor of biochemistry, received the college’s Award for Excellence in Basic Research for his outstanding contributions to elucidation of novel enzyme mechanisms and drug discovery.

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Students recognized with Departmental Outstanding Senior Awards

Every year, each department in the college nominates one student as the Outstanding Senior from their unit. Stephanie Myrick of Woodbridge, Virginia, who majored in applied economic management with minors in civic agriculture and food systems and leadership and social change, was selected from these nominations as the college’s Outstanding Senior.

The Outstanding Seniors from other departments included:

  • Brent Ashley from the Department of Dairy Science
  • Colleen Beard from the Department of Horticulture
  • Laura Griffin from the Department of Food Science and Technology
  • Alyson Howard from the Department of Agricultural Technology
  • Shannon Lloyd from the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
  • Kimberly Pittard from the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
  • Morgan Slaven from the Department Agricultural and Extension Education
  • Kirsten Ulmer from the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences
  • Kelly Young from the Department of Biochemistry
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Anne Brown receives scholarship and award for her studies

Anne Brown, biochemistry student, recently won the S.J. Ritchey Endowed Scholarship, which is a competitive scholarship for students enrolled in the Gerontology Graduate Certificate Program. Awards are given to students who are majoring in nutrition or whose research focuses on health and aging.

She was also awarded the Citizen Scholar award, designed to encourage graduate students to think creatively about how their research can be harnessed to benefit the needs of the community.

Congratulations, Anne!

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Capacity building grants program

In order to stimulate translational research, foster agricultural outreach, and to enhance research and Extension activities at the Southwest Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, and Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Centers, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences awarded five capacity building grants which are intended to provide seed funding to improve competitiveness for extramural grants and to provide opportunities to the faculty to more fully utilize and support these AREC facilities.

The Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension jointly funded five projects for a total of about $250,000. The funded projects are listed below.

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Ross Willis — September Employee of the Month

Ross Willis, center, receives his award from biochemistry department head Peter Kennelly, left, and Dean Alan Grant.

Ross Willis, center, receives his award from biochemistry department head Peter Kennelly, left, and Dean Alan Grant.

Ross Willis, an electronic technician in the Department of Biochemistry, has been selected as the employee of the month for September.

Willis’ nominator praised his willingness to help others and to take the “initiative to perform what is beyond his regular responsibilities.” He has helped start up two new labs in biochemistry, and his work always exceeded expectations. He was instrumental in ensuring lab repairs were done, and he has a knack for finding those hard-to-find lab supplies. Most importantly, his nominator points out his positive energy and how it positively affects the rest of the department.

Congratulations, Ross!

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