Dear Colleagues,

Alan Grant, dean
Alan Grant, dean

On behalf of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, I am pleased to introduce our new faculty members. They are extremely talented individuals who excel in their fields of interest and will help us remain at the forefront of academics, research, and extension.

Their specialties focus on some of the world’s most critical issues and target strategic areas for growth in the college. Positions were identified to bring new talent to our focus areas, such as agricultural productivity, environmental sustainability, the green industry, and food, nutrition, and health.

The addition of these faculty members reflects the college’s mission of growing tenure and tenure-track positions in the coming years. As you meet them individually and learn more about their accomplishments and goals, I’m sure you will agree that they are an impressive addition to the college.

Please join me in welcoming these outstanding individuals to the college and the Virginia Tech community.

Sincerely, 

Alan Grant, dean

Charlie Cahoon

Charlie Cahoon

Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist

Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science

Hire date: June 25, 2015

Education

  • Ph.D., Crop Science, North Carolina State University, 2015
  • B.S., Agronomy-Soil Science, North Carolina State University, 2011

Focus

Cahoon’s research fosters Virginia agriculture by developing innovative and sustainable weed management solutions for row crop and vegetable growers. At the forefront of his research is the management of herbicide-resistant common ragweed, horseweed, Palmer amaranth, and Italian ryegrass, as well as preemptive measures for avoiding future herbicide-resistance. His mission is also to promote proper stewardship of new herbicide technology as it reaches the field.

cwcahoon@vt.edu
757-414-0724
Eastern Shore AREC
33446 Research Drive
Painter, Virginia 23420

Cristina Fernández Fraguas

Cristina Fernández Fraguas

Assistant Professor

Food Science and Technology

Hire date: June 25, 2015

Education 

  • Ph.D., Food Science and Technology, University Complutense of Madrid, 2008
  • M.S., Food Science and Technology, University Complutense of Madrid, 2000
  • M.S., Chemistry, University Complutense of Madrid, 1998

Focus

Fernandez Fraguas’ research and teaching is specialized in food colloids and lipid digestion. She has focused on molecular structures of bulk physiochemical and interfacial properties of dietary fiber, with the aim of designing ingredients and products to control lipid digestibility and reduce blood cholesterol levels.

cfraguas@vt.edu
540-231-6806
360 Duck Pond Drive (0418)
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Olga Isengildina-Massa

Olga Isengildina-Massa

Associate Professor

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Hire date: Aug. 10, 2015

Education 


  • Ph.D., Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University, 2000
  • M.S., Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University, 1996
  • B.A., English Philology, Tashkent University, 1993

Focus 

Isengildina-Massa’s concentration areas include commodity marketing and price analysis, and forecasting and the use of futures and options markets to assess price risk management. Her research initiatives have evaluated the impact of public information on commodity markets such as the effectiveness of locally grown campaigns and online marketing tools to promote farmers markets and agricultural goods in product marketing, as well as the value of information on those markets.

oimassa@vt.edu
540-231-0891
216-I Hutcheson Hall (0401)
185 Ag Quad Lane
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Travis Mountain

Travis Mountain

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Hire date: Aug. 10, 2015

Education 

  • Ph.D., Family Resource Management, The Ohio State University, 2015
  • M.S., Consumer Behavior and Family Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
  • B.S., Consumer Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004

Focus 

Mountain’s area of concentration as an Extension specialist is the financial and economic well-being of the households and communities of Virginia. His current research interests include life insurance adequacy, food security, and mortgage selection decision behavior.  He is also a member of the NC 2172 multistate research team focusing on behavioral economics and financial decision-making and information management across the lifespan. The team is working on a post-secondary education financing project and has future plans to examine Social Security and retirement.

travis35@vt.edu
540-231-6399
208 Hutcheson Hall (0401)
250 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Carlin Rafie

Carlin Rafie

Assistant Professor

Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

Hire date: Feb. 25, 2015

Education

  • Ph.D., Dietetics and Nutrition, Florida International University, 2009
  • M.S., Food, Nutrition, and Institutional Administration, Oklahoma State University, 1986
  • B.S., Biology, Oklahoma State University, 1983

Focus

Rafie is responsible for developing nationally recognized Extension programs to complement and expand existing programs within the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise to combat preventable chronic diseases and promote healthy lifestyles among adult and aging populations.

Her research focus is on community engagement in resource and need assessment and community programming for prevention of chronic disease and improvement of health; methods of community engagement in research; impacts of diet, physical activity, and sleep quality on inflammation and quality of life of cancer survivors; and community educator training models to effect health behavior change.

crafie@vt.edu
540-231-3162
321 Wallace Hall (0430)
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Hannah Scherer

Hannah Scherer

Assistant Professor 


Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education

Hire date: Jan. 9, 2015

Education

  • Ph.D., Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, 2006
  • B.S., Geology with a physics core concentration, Macalester College, 2000

Focus 


Scherer contributes to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences as a member of a team of faculty working to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math — STEM — into nonformal 4-H programming as well as secondary education and to conduct cross-disciplinary research in STEM literacy.  She contributes to the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education as a team member in agricultural education broadly defined to include teaching and learning, leadership, Extension, and community education. Her research interests are centered on improving the teaching and learning of science in the context of agriculture through the development of high quality, inquiry-based STEM curricula as well as educator professional development programs to support these curricula.

hscherer@vt.edu
540-231-1759
270 Litton-Reaves Hall (0343)
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Maria Sharakhova

Maria Sharakhova

Assistant Professor

Entomology

Hire date: Aug. 10, 2015

Education

  • Ph.D., Genetics, Institute of Cytology and Genetics, 1997
  • M.S., Biology, Tomsk State University, 1987

Focus

Sharakhova investigates vector-borne illnesses and is primarily involved in developing cytogenetic tools for studying mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever, Dengue fever, West Nile encephalitis, and malaria. She has mapped and characterized the genome organization in the yellow fever vector Aedes aegypti, as well as analyzed the evolution of chromosomes in malaria mosquitoes.

msharakh@vt.edu
540-231-0731
205 Fralin Life Science Institute (0346)
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061

Laura Strawn

Laura Strawn

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist

Food Science and Technology

Hire date: October, 2014

Education

  • Ph.D., Food Science, Cornell University, 2013
  • M.S., Food Science, University of Florida, 2009
  • B.S., Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis, 2007

Focus

Strawn’s research focuses on enhanced microbial safety of produce production at both the pre- and post-harvest level, subtyping of bacterial foodborne pathogens for source tracking and outbreak detection, and development of educational materials and trainings for producers, packers, and processors directed towards enhancing food safety of produce.

lstrawn@vt.edu
757-414-0724
Eastern Shore AREC
33446 Research Drive
Painter, Virginia 23420

New Faculty Advice

A selection of junior faculty were asked questions about coming to Virginia Tech and getting settled in the area. We hope this helps you get a head start on getting to know the area and your department.