Tag Archives: FST

Susan Duncan named associate director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station

Susan DuncanProfessor Susan Duncan has been named associate director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station at Virginia Tech. Duncan has been a faculty member since 1990 when she joined the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Food Science and Technology.

The mission of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station is to engage in innovative, leading-edge research to discover new scientific knowledge, and in collaboration with Virginia Cooperative Extension, to create and disseminate science-based applications to ensure the wise use of agricultural, natural, and community resources while contributing to economic and environmental viability and enhancing quality of life. It was created in 1886.

Today, the research projects and activities of the experiment station encompass the work of over 350 scientists in five colleges including the College Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Natural Resources and Environment, the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the College of Science, and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. The research network also includes 11 field stations located throughout the state.

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Virginia Tech represented in every level of the American Dairy Science Association

This year, Virginia Tech has elected leadership at all three levels (professional, graduate student division, undergraduate student affiliate division) of the American Dairy Science Association: President Susan Duncan from the Department of Food Science and Technology, Graduate Student Division President Adam Geiger, and the Student Affiliate Division President Elizabeth Davis. This is an international organization of educators, scientists, and industry representatives who are committed to advancing the dairy industry and is keenly aware of the vital role the dairy sciences play in fulfilling the economic, nutritive, and health requirements of the world’s population.

In these leadership roles, Duncan, Geiger, and Davis are contributing to the guidance and leadership of the future of dairy science and agriculture. As you may be aware, the Virginia Tech Dairy Club has a history of accomplishments at the regional and national level and the Department of Dairy Science has a very established record and alumni base of dairy science leadership in the country and internationally.

Congratulations to Susan, Adam, and Elizabeth!

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Welcome new faculty!

Our college recently hired eight new faculty members, with the intent on bringing new talent to its focus areas, including food and health, infectious disease, biodesign and processing, and agricultural profitability and environmental sustainability. These new hires are distributed across teaching, research, and Extension.

Please welcome our new faculty members:

  • Carlin Rafie appointed assistant professor of human nutrition, foods, and exercise and Extension specialist
  • Charlie Cahoon appointed assistant professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science and Extension specialist
  • Cristina Fernandez-Fraguas appointed assistant professor of food science and technology
  • Hannah Scherer appointed Extension specialist and assistant professor of agricultural, leadership, and community education
  • Laura Strawn named Extension specialist and assistant professor of food science and technology
  • Maria Sharakhova joins entomology faculty
  • Olga Isengildina-Massa named associate professor of agricultural and applied economics
  • Travis Mountain named Extension specialist, assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics
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Inside the ARECs: Eastern Shore

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

Assistant Professor of Food Science and Technology and Extension Specialist Laura Strawn is located at the Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Painter, Virginia, where she focuses on enhanced microbial safety of fruit and vegetable production at both the pre- and post-harvest level.

Laura Strawn explains her research to Virginia Tech President Tim Sands (center) and Associated Dean of Research Saied Mostaghimi (left)

Laura Strawn explains her research to Virginia Tech President Tim Sands (center) and Associate Dean of Research Saied Mostaghimi (left).

A typical day for Strawn includes a wide variety of research-related and outreach and Extension responsibilities. Grant writing and catching up with progress reports are tempered with traveling to interact with stakeholders, or providing safety trainings.

In November 2015, the Fresh Produce Food Safety Team with whom Strawn collaborates, is offering a workshop entitled,Packinghouse Best Practices: A Hands-on Workshop Using a Risk-based Framework to Increase Fresh Produce Food Safety.” Topics will include the difference between cleaning and sanitizing; most commonly used sanitizing agents; how to calculate a target ppm for sanitizing agents; factors that impact sanitizing effectiveness; monitoring a sanitizer within the line or other application (i.e. wash basin); keeping track of monitoring steps; and what is meant by a clean break in a packinghouse.

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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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Kim Waterman — January Employee of the Month

Kim Waterman, laboratory manager in the Department of Food Science and Technology, has been selected as the January Employee of the Month.

Kim Waterman receiving her Employee of the Month award

According to her nominator, Kim not only keeps up with her usual job requirements and keeps things running in the FST building, but she also helped guide preparations for the transition to the new HABB1 building. They noted that “without this commitment and professionalism regarding the necessary safety actions and documentation, researchers and students in the department would have suffered significant delays in their research.”

After the move, Kim has taken on additional duties including providing administrative assistance in the new building and maintaining the copy room to make sure supplies are available. She also helped organize the open house for HABB1 in March. In addition to handling so many things for the new building, Kim also “found time to be on the committee to hire the new chemistry lab staff position, be active in the college’s Staff Association, and be a member of the food science and technology department head’s five-year review committee. Her commitment and dedication to the department, the college, and the university have really shown brightly this past year.”

Congratulations Kim!

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Laura Strawn’s research published in IFT’s Food Technology magazine

Congratulations to Laura Strawn, assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology. Her research on Big Data in Food Safety and Quality was recently featured in the February issue of Institute of Food Technology’s magazine.

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Terry Rakestraw – December Employee of the Month

Terry Rakestraw, executive secretary senior in the Department of Food Science and Technology, has been selected as the December Employee of the Month.

December Employee of the Month Terry Rakestraw receiving award with Dean Alan Grant (left) and Department Head Joe Marcy (right)

December Employee of the Month Terry Rakestraw, center, receiving award with Dean Alan Grant, left, and Department Head Joe Marcy, right.

Terry’s nominator praised her work ethic and expertise, noting that she “always encourages others in the department to excel at what they do and to further their own professional development. She sets a very high standard for herself and her work, and her actions inspire us all to do better.”

A good example of this is her recent effort to improve the environment inside the Food Science and Technology building. She reorganized rooms to improve traffic flow and cleaned storage areas to help keep track of supplies. Not only is she making the building a more pleasant place to work, she is helping everyone take pride in the space.

She is currently a member of the departmental awards nomination committee and has served on the college Employee of the Month committee. Her efforts to make sure her coworkers are acknowledged for their hard work definitely improves morale in the department. She always finds time to listen to coworkers and visitors and help them in any way possible. Her breadth of experience and numerous contacts across the university means she knows who to contact if she doesn’t know the answer.

Congratulations Terry!

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Joe Boling – October Employee of the Month

Joe Boling, senior programmer and analyst in the Department of Food Science and Technologyhas been selected as the October Employee of the Month.

Joe Boling accepting his award alongside Laura Lawson, Joe Marcy, and Dean Alan Grant.

Joe Boling accepting his award alongside Laura Lawson, Joe Marcy, and Dean Alan Grant.

Joe’s nominator praised his work ethic and expertise. During Joe’s 35 years in the department, he has had varied responsibilities. Joe provides guidance for faculty, staff, and graduate students with respect to statistics. After a few retirements in 2012, he took on additional responsibilities including acting as the point of contact for maintenance requests for the building, overseeing the inventory, and handling items for surplus. Joe’s efforts during the design and development phase of Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building1 were impressive. He provided insight to help determine the layout of the labs and offices and positioning of equipment and facilities. Working closely with Kim Waterman, he helped organize the department move to the new building, ensuring everything was labeled appropriately and acted as the point of contact for the movers.

Joe’s efforts to help smooth that transition occurred in addition to his usual duties (including preparing for spring courses), and the time he has found to help orient, train, and assist the new Pilot Plant Manager.

Congratulations Joe!

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Faculty participating in the installation of President Sands

Timothy D. Sands joined Virginia Tech as its 16th president on June 1, 2014. The installation of President Sands will be held Oct. 16-18. 

We have a large number of faculty participating in the installation in the Experience Virginia Tech: Learn, Explore, Engage portion on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon.

This special event will highlight Virginia Tech’s teaching, research, and outreach while offering learning and fun for all interests and ages! Lectures from dynamic faculty, interdisciplinary panels, hands-on demonstrations, and engaging displays will transform The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center into an open classroom.

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