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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. 


Jacob Barney

Areas of Research

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

John McDowell

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 TPSC at VT's first External Advisory Board members will be announced in 2023.


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 with coursework in Hospitality Management), her 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 engaging in community outreach to uphold the center's mission.