Virginia Tech® home


Insert your title here




Global Change Center logo

FLSI TPSC lockup

TPSC Director 

Guillaume Pilot

The Translational Plant Sciences Center at Virginia Tech is led by its founding Director, Dr. Guillaume Pilot.

Dr. Pilot's dedication to the creation of this center is evident by the time invested in contributing to the formation of the charter and original bylaws of the organization. 

Dr. Pilot joined Virginia Tech in 2009 and is a Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms controlling the activity of amino acid metabolism and transport in plants, with a goal to understand (1) how amino acids are transported across membranes at the subcellular and plant levels, (2) how cells sense amino acid levels inside the organelles and the apoplasm, and (3) how are the signals transduced to changes in metabolic and transport activity. This knowledge would open ways to engineer nitrogen fluxes in the plant, for example diverting resources to specific organs, which would enable to create crops with higher protein in storage organs like seeds, roots or tubers, or plants with increased nitrogen use efficiency.

Beyond the lab, Dr. Pilot partners with high schools to conduct scientific outreach focused on plant science research and discovery. Dr. Pilot has also played an exponential role in the expansion and development of mentorship and leadership development programs within TPSC at VT and the Graduate School at Virginia Tech.


TPSC Advisory Committee

The following group of Virginia Tech faculty provide senior support and refined perspectives to the TPSC Director to faciliate the center's accomplishments. The Advisory Committee is responsible for considering key decisions that affect the direction of growth, identifying new opportunities, innovating new initiatives, and evaluating the progress and efficacy of the Center’s existing programs and procedures. 


Christopher Clarke

Areas of Research

Invasive plant ecology, biofuel ecology, allelopathy, risk assessment, weed science

Dr. Lorence Argelia

Areas of Research

Plant-pathogen interactions

Brenda S. J. Winkel

Brenda S.J. Winkel

Professor of Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Areas of Research

Characterization of the architecture and localization of the Arabidopsis flavonoid enzyme complex using a variety of molecular, biochemical, and cell biological techniques

Bo Zhang

Areas of Research

Soybean breeding, crop genetics


External Advisory Board

The Translational Plant Sciences Center's first External Advisory Board members are comprised of program alumni and industry leaders. Each scientist plays a pivotal role in steering center decisions by working with the internal TPSC Advisory Committee.



Dr. Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Senior Scientist

TPS Graduate Program Alumnus & Postdoc (2005-2012)

Areas of Research

  • cell/molecular biology
  • genetics
  • microbiology
  • biochemistry 
  • bioassay development
Pete Bowerman

Pete Bowerman

Marketing Manager

TPS Graduate Program Alumnus (2005-2010)

Areas of Research

  • canola seed production 
  • characterization of the architecture and localization of the Arabidopsis flavonoid enzyme complex using a variety of molecular, biochemical, and cell biological techniques
Christopher Clarke

Christopher Clarke

Research Plant Pathologist 

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
TPS Graduate Program Alumnus & Postdoc (2007-2012)

Areas of Research

  • Identify potato genes involved in susceptibility or resistance to the bacterial pathogen Streptomyces scabies which causes common scab disease.
  • Characterize the diversity of Streptomyces scabies populations in the United States.
  • Identify genes in Streptomyces scabies necessary for the manifestation of common scab disease.
  • Determine the efficacy and mode of action of chemical control approaches for controlling common scab disease of potato.
  • Engineer novel genetic resistance in potato and other solanaceous crops against common scab disease and other pathogens of importance to U.S. agriculture.
Dr. Lorence Argelia

Argelia Lorence

Professor of Metabolic Engineering

Vaughn Endowed Professorship; Director, A-State Phenomics Facility
Arkansas State University
TPS Postdoc (2002-2005)

Areas of Research

  • Plant metabolic engineering
  • Vitamin C metabolism
  • Plant stress tolerance
  • Plant high throughput phenotyping
Melissa Ramirez

Melissa Ramirez

Associate Teaching Professor

NC State University 
TPS Graduate Program Alumna (2003-2008)

Areas of Research

  • microbiology
  • elucidating the structure, localization, and regulation of the flavonoid multienzyme complex in Arabidopsis thaliana
Kristi Woods

Kristi Woods

Associate Teaching Professor

Virginia Tech Alumna (2000-2003)

Areas of Research

  • plant microbe interactions
  • plant biology
  • mycorrhizae
  • greenhouse
  • statistical design
  • agronomy
  • biotech
  • microbiology
  • regulatory support and claims development (state labels, EPA, permits)


TPSC Program Coordinator

TPSC Program Coordinator

Crystal Founds joined the Translational Plant Sciences Center shortly after its formation in 2021 to support TPSC with innovative marketing and business development. Crystal orchestrates the center's communications and engagement activities, recruitment campaigns, and Graduate Student Organization career development opportunities, including industry tours and alumni events to expand the organization's diverse interdisciplinary programs.

A Virginia Tech alumna (Cum Laude in Psychology and Professional Writing), Crystal's well-rounded career includes fifteen years as a social worker supporting underserved populations in the New River Valley, two years as a legal secretary, and a decade of seasonal work in hospitality and event planning. She is passionate about providing career support to students and upholding the center's mission.