From the Dean – December 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Alan Grant, dean

Alan Grant, dean

After many years at Virginia Tech, Allen Harper, director of the Tidewater Agriculture Research and Extension Center (TAREC), has announced his plan to retire in August 2014. Allen has provided outstanding leadership and service to TAREC and CALS, and we wish him well during his transition. A search committee for the director position has been formed and will be meeting soon. Pete Schultz, the director of Hampton Roads AREC, has agreed to chair the search committee. Other members of the committee include Gail White (TAREC staff member), Mark Estienne (TAREC faculty member), Ames Herbert (TAREC faculty member), Jody Jellison (Associate Director, VAES), Hillary Mehl (TAREC faculty member), and Wade Thomason (CSES faculty member).

I am constantly impressed by the caliber of our students who excel in their chosen fields and are outstanding representatives of the college. This month, we had a number of examples of how our students are laying the groundwork to become future leaders in agriculture and life sciences.

Brian Walsh, who is majoring in agribusiness and minoring in leadership and social change, was recently named the National FFA Organization’s president, an extremely prestigious title that makes him the leader of more than 579,000 agriculture enthusiasts across the country. Among the college alumni who were also national FFA officers is Matt Lohr, the current commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

During the recent Board of Visitors meeting, ten students from the university were selected to present undergraduate research posters. We were pleased to learn that three of the ten presenters — Peter Burnham, Kristen Fread, and Sydney Vaughan — are biochemistry majors.

Four undergraduates from the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program recently presented their research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Nashville, Tenn. Sade Moore, a senior in animal and poultry sciences and a participant in the Alliance for Minority Participation at Virginia Tech, was one of 180 students at the conference recognized for their research. She participated in MAOP’s Summer Research Internship and her faculty mentor was David Lindsay. Her project was entitled “Prevalence of IgG antibodies to Toxoplasma gondii in Veterinary and Undergraduate Students at Virginia Tech.”

The Virginia Tech Soil Judging Team recently continued its impressive string of wins when it took second place out of 11 teams at the Southeast Region Collegiate Soil Judging Contest. The team is now headed for the national contest in April.

The 2013 Virginia 4-H All-Star Livestock Judging Team took first high team overall against 28 other teams in the Ak-Sar-Ben Livestock Judging Contest recently. A number of students from the team also placed well in individual competitions.

Among the faculty ranks, Boris Vinatzer and David Schmale have both been on the nationally syndicated NPR program, Pulse of the Planet, in recent months. You can listen to the pieces online. Others from our college will be on the program in the coming months.

Lastly, kudos to Susan Duncan and David Schmale who gave inspiring talks to the sold-out crowd at the recent Virginia TedX talks. Links to their speeches should be online soon.


Alan Grant

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