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Meet our Principal Investigators

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Faculty Labs

TPSC affiliated faculty represent 3 colleges and 6 academic departments on campus.

Our growing community collaborates in unique ways to support sustainable production of food, feed, and biomaterial issues by improving yield, disease resistance, adaptation to a changing environment, plant metabolism, and metabolic engineering. 

Together we teach the next generation of plant scientists, engage stakeholders, and facilitate cutting edge science to sustain and improve agricultural productivity.

Brian Badgley

Areas of Research

  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Water and Soil Quality
Bastiaan Bargmann

Areas of Research

Fundamental and translational studies towards crop improvement through genome-editing and tissue-culture

Jacob Barney

Areas of Research

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

Eric Beers

Eric Beers

Professor
Associate Director for Graduate Programs
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Areas of Research

Plant development and functional genomics

Amy Brunner

Areas of Research

Genomics of tree development, ecophysiology and adaptation; molecular genetics of tree maturation, flowering and crown architecture; epigenetic mechanisms and small RNAs in trees; long-distance signaling in trees.

Eva Collakova

Areas of Research

Regulation of metabolism during seed filling and seed metabolic engineering, multi-omics approaches, plant metabolic engineering

David Haak

Areas of Research

  • Evolutionary ecological genomics
  • Genetics in plant defense and physiology
Amy Brunner

Areas of Research

Population and evolutionary genomics, genome-enabled breeding, evolutionary ecology

John Jelesko

Areas of Research

  • Plant specialized metabolism
  • Poison ivy urushiol metabolism and chemical ecology
Song Li

Areas of Research

  • Plant genomics and bioinformatics
  • Machine learning
  • High throughput phenotyping
Marta Lima

Areas of Research

  • Phytochemical content of fruits and legumes
  • Increasing iron bioavailability of legume grains
John McDowell

Areas of Research

  • Plant-pathogen interactions
Sasha Marine

Sasha Marine

Collegiate Assistant Professor

Director of VT-Research, Extension and Learning Program

Department of Biochemistry

Areas of Research

Dr. Marine is the program coordinator for VT-REEL, a 10-week summer undergraduate research program focused on translational plant science and food security, with research projects shared between on-campus labs and ARECs.

VT-REEL website

Gota Morota

Areas of Research

Dr. Morota investigates the genome–phenome relationship using statistical and quantitative genetics and its application to plant breeding.

Guillaume Pilot

Areas of Research

  • Regulation of amino acid transport and metabolism in Arabidopsis
  • Determinants of seed protein content in soybean
Saghai Maroof

Areas of Research

  • Genomics
  • Crop Improvement
scharf_lab

Birgit Scharf

Professor of Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Areas of Research

Bacterial motility and chemotaxis; sensing of environmental signals, two-component signal transduction, the speed-variable flagellar motor, flagellotropic phage infection, function of type IV pili in symbiosis, tumor-targeting Salmonella

David Schmale

Areas of Research

  • Airborne plant pathogens and ice-nucleating microbes; mycotoxins
stevens_lab

Ann Stevens

Professor of Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Areas of Research

Bacterial-host interactions; cell-cell communication; molecular microbiology; emphasis on bacterial environmental sensing and gene regulation, including quorum sensing; virulence of the corn pathogen Pantoea stewartii and the human foodborne pathogen Vibrio parahaemolyticus; beneficial roles of bacteria in aquaculture

PSNA conference 2022

Dorothea Tholl

Professor of Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Areas of Research

  • Biology
  • Functional Genomics
  • Biochemistry of Chemical Communication
James Tokuhisa

Jim Tokuhisa

Assistant Professor of Practice, Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Areas of Research

Biochemical and molecular mechanisms of chemical defense fitness in higher plants

Boris Vinatzer lab

Areas of Research

  • Genome-based classification and identification of plant pathogens and biocontrol agents
  • Biological ice nucleation activity
Xiaofeng Wang

Areas of Research

  • Viral replication mechanisms and virus-host interactions of positive-strand RNA viruses
Jonathan Watkinson

Areas of Research

Jim Westwood

Areas of Research

  • Parasitic plants
  • Plant communication
  • Weed evolution
Susan Whitehead

Susan Whitehead

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Plant evolutionary responses to multi-species interactions; chemical ecology of seed dispersal and fruit defense; domestication and plant defense; agricultural applications of chemical ecology

Mark Williams

Areas of Research

  • Microbial ecology
  • Plant growth promotion
  • Rhizobium spp.
  • Mycorrhizae 
  • Land management
  • Natural ecosystems
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

Clay Wright

Areas of Research

Plant development, hormone signaling, genetic engineering of yield/resistance/added-value crop traits, genetic variation, protein engineering, biosensors, directed evolution, and synthetic biology

Bo Zhang

Areas of Research

  • Soybean breeding
  • Crop genetics
Bingyu Zhao

Areas of Research

  • Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Controlled-Environment Agriculture

Contact our Program Coordinator or faculty to inquire about studying with our program!