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About us

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, our ambition to help communities flourish is the core of what we do. By using four major identified strengths — food, health, economy, and environment — we address the shared challenges facing our world. Through collaboration, we all thrive.

Our research focuses on:

  • Comprehensive health & wellness
  • Community empowerment
  • Predictive environmental solutions
  • Cultivating lifelong learners
  • Resilience and productivity through innovation

The Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station (VAES) is the research enterprise for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including academic departments and the off-campus Agricultural Research and Extension Centers (ARECs). Our team includes more than 350 scientists located in three colleges at Virginia Tech: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)College of Natural Resources and Environment (CNRE), and Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine (VMCVM). VAES, along with our partner Virginia Cooperative Extension, comprise the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Agency 229. Together with our partners across Virginia and around the world, including the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), VAES scientists and engineers are bringing innovation and securing agriculture, food, and health through basic and applied research. 

Agricultural Research and Extension Centers (ARECs)

ARECs deliver research and Virginia Cooperative Extension programs, serve as field-research sites and field laboratories, and are program sites for producers, school groups, and the state's citizens.

Departmental research

Faculty at the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics maintain research programs that address a wide array of topics that impact both Virginians and people around the world. Research is conducted in five broad areas: agribusiness, environmental and natural resource economics, food and health economics, international development and trade, and rural and regional development. 

The Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education focuses on three core program areas: teaching and learning in agriculture, leadership and social change, and community education and development. Faculty and graduate students have responsibilities in the missions of each core area: teaching, research, and Extension.

The School of Animal Sciences main research objective is to optimize efficiency of animal production, while maintaining or enhancing the environment. The research programs focus on applied science, which has an immediate application to animal agriculture, and basic science, which provides scientific foundation for further basic and applied research discoveries. 

We are involved in generating new tools and knowledge that will advance our understanding of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, Drug Discovery, Microbiology, Stress Responses in Plants, Alzheimer’s, Cancer and Type 2 Diabetes. Faculty recruit graduate students from our own PhD and MS programs, as well as students from the Microbiology, Translational Plant Sciences, Genetics, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (GBCB) and Translational Medicine and Biomedical Health (TMBH) graduate programs on campus.

Our faculty and students work in a broad range of biological systems, from natural systems, such as watersheds with a focus on water resources, to built systems, such as bioreactors and bioprocessing facilities. We work from the nanoscale to the macroscale. We seek to improve animal, human, and environmental health through development and design of healthy food products, vaccines, bioenergy, biomaterials, and water quality management practices. We convert biological resources, such as switchgrass, plant proteins, and animal manure, into value-added products, such as biopharmaceuticals, biofuels, and biomaterials, in a sustainable manner.

Research in the Department of Dairy Science falls under the following four categories:

  1. Physiology
  2. Nutrition & Feeding
  3. Breeding Genetics
  4. Forage Evaluation & Management

Our scientists explore the diversity, benefits and risks of insects everywhere, in our crops, forests, water and homes. The Department's work includes biomedical research on vector-borne diseases, description and discovery of new species, evaluation of water quality through the insects living there, pollinator biology, smart and sustainable management of pests wherever they occur, and more.

Departmental research areas are internationally recognized for cutting edge, industry-revelant research in protecting public health, enhancing food quality and making technological advancements in the field of food science.

HNFE's unique fusion of nutrition, foods, and exercise science positions us to advance knowledge in education, prevention, research, and translational studies. Collaborative interactions among faculty are strong and span from cells to society. 

Research in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences is broken up into the following four communities:

  1. Ecosystem Science and Management Community
  2. Plant Health and Improvement
  3. Plant Production Systems
  4. Agroenvironmental Information Systems Community

Research in action

Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station (VAES)

VAES performs basic and applied research on agricultural, environmental, natural, and community resource issues related to the future needs of Virginia — and the world.

Agricultural Research and Extension Centers (ARECs)

ARECs deliver research and Extension programs, serve as field-research sites and field laboratories, and are program sites for producers, school groups, and the state's citizens.

Latest CALS research updates

Mary Burrows

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, Director of VAES

Kang Xia

Interim Associate Director of VAES, Interim Director of the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture (CAIA)


104 Hutcheson Hall (0402)
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Phone: (540) 231-6336
Fax: (540) 231-4163