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Research Faculty, Postdoctoral Associates and Staff

Elizabeth Clevinger,, Research Associate

Elizabeth coordinates activities in the field for planting, maintenance of soybean plants and harvest and coordinate greenhouse research when necessary for projects.  Elizabeth also performs various molecular research activities in the lab located in Latham Hall.     

Regina, Research Associate
Regina studies ice-nucleating microbes in the atmosphere and track the movement of hazardous agents in the water.  Regina participates in training and mentoring students in research experiences for undergraduates (REU).  

John Hoben,, Research Scientist
John serves as a Research Scientist in the Stewart Lab, supporting lab and field operations of the Environmental Soil Science Research Groups.  In this role, he leverages training in soil fertility, water quality, and protein biochemistry.  John's research interests include bioremediation of soil and water, focusing on how microbial communities transform nutrients and small molecules. John is also fascinated by flavin, Nature's most versatile protein cofactor that enables much of the chemistry behind bioremediation and biogeochemical cycling, including the nitrogen and carbon cycles. 

Tammy Holler,, Nutrient Management Specialist

Sara, Research Associate
Sara has a full-time appointment that is split between the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.  Sara specializes in plant ecology and land reclamation, and manages research projects related to the revegetation of mined landscapes, the use of native plant species for reclamation and restoration, community ecology, wetland ecology, water quality monitoring, American chestnut restoration, and forest genetics.

Marta,  Research Assistant Professor
Marta's primary research focuses on plant compounds of interest to human/animal health. With an ever-increasing world population, food security is a priority. While traditionally food security may have been only related to food sufficiency, presently adequate food quality is also gaining importance to achieve nourishment and seize health benefits of plant foods. She is interested in two main areas. The first is to understand how phytochemical content of fruits and legumes could be enhanced to increase their effect on health. Phytochemicals, found in fruit and vegetables, have been associated with prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer. However, about 75% of the U.S. population consume below the recommended fruit and vegetable intake level. Her second area of interest is increasing iron bioavailability of legume grains. Iron is an essential nutrient for plants and humans and its deficiency leads to severe problems. In humans, iron deficiency affects nearly 30% of the population globally and occurs in developing and industrialized countries.  To achieve these goals, she uses an interdisciplinary approach, collaborating with colleagues in different disciplines including plant physiology, biochemistry, agriculture, breeding, and animal and human nutrition.

Limei,  Research Associate
Limei does research of hard wheat or bread wheat variety development.

Niki,  Research Associate
Niki manages the mycotoxin testing in the Schmale Lab at Virginia Tech in cooperation with the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative.  Conducting the high throughput testing of samples from numerous research groups from across the country. The primary focus of the analysis is the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol and uses GC/MS quantitative methods.

Gonzalo Ortiz Ulloa,, Urban Nutrient Management Specialist 

Joel, Senior Project Associate
Joel has a 100% research appointment to further the McDowell Lab investigations into the molecular interplay of plants and pathogens. The primary model patho-system studied is Arabidopsis thaliana (thale or mouse-ear cress) and the oomycete Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (downy mildew disease). Other systems include Tobacco/Phytophthora nicotianae and soybean/Phytophthora sojae.

Athena, Research Associate
Athena is manager of the SPES Soil & Water Quality Analysis labs in Smyth and Latham. This cluster of labs supports a wide range of faculty programs in soils, agriculture and water quality research.

Emily Unglesbee,, GROW Outreach Manager

Aihua Wang,, Research Associate

Tad, Nutrient Management Specialist
Tad provides technical assistance in developing nutrient management practices with a focus on dairies and beef operations without permits. The goal is to improve use of manure to protect water quality in Virginia.

Xunzhong, Research Associate Professor
Xunzhong leads the plant and turfgrass stress physiology and bioproduct research program and collaborate in basic and applied research with the turf team colleagues from all disciplines. Xunzhong’s research area has also expanded to include stress physiology of forage and bioenergy grasses, row crops, and vegetables.  

Sahar Abdelrazek,, Postdoctoral Associate

Moshood, Postdoctoral Associate

Eun, Postdoctoral Associate

Qi, Postdoctoral Associate

Sanjok Poudel,, Postdoctoral Associate

Felipe, Postdoctoral Associate
Felipe is a Postdoctoral Associate who works in the Small Grains Breeding and Genetics Program. His research is focused on understanding complex genotype-by-environment interactions using genomic models and high-throughput phenotyping. His background is focused on plant breeding, quantitative genetics and phenomics.

Zhibo, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow

Whitnee, Turfgrass Program Manager

Kevin Bamber,, Research Specialist Senior
Kevin is responsible for day-to-day operations of our applied weed management research trials in agronomic crops (mostly corn, soybean, and wheat) and pasture/forage that includes locations throughout Virginia. Kevin's duties include plot layout, herbicide application, planting, data collection, and harvesting and operates equipment to do so.

Jason, Agricultural Supervisor
Supervise and support research, teaching, and extension programs at Kentland Farm by operating and maintaining sophisticated agricultural equipment. Maintain grounds and buildings, repair, modify, and fabricate research equipment.

Caleb Bishop,, Research Specialist Senior

Ruslan, Research Manager
Ruslan coordinates experimental aspects of our soybean root rot disease and seed composition projects with lab and field personnel. Coordination of experimental material transfer and data processing of the root rot disease project with various collaborators on-campus and at Iowa and Ohio State Universities. Ruslan participates in the design of field experiments and in planting and harvesting and supervises DNA extraction/genotyping in the lab and DNA preparation for genotyping at the USDA/ARS Beltsville laboratory.

Michael, Research Specialist Senior 

Jeff, Horticulture Greenhouse Technician
Jeff manages the day to day operations at the SPES Greenhouse Facility. 

Pamela, Program Support Assistant
Pamela provides program support to the Nutrition Management program at The Department of Conservation and Recreation. Pamela also handles the administration for implementation of the program. 

Paul, Head Horticulturist

Cindy, Laboratory and Research Manager
Cindy is a lab manager shared with Pilot Guillaume.

Pat, Laboratory Specialist Senior
Pat provides geospatial support to SPES faculty and graduate students on research projects including mine land reclamation, crop yield improvement, biofuel land suitability, UAS imagery analyses, and acid sulfate soil mapping. Pat creates and manages GIS data for the College in support of nutrient management planning on CALS Montgomery County farms and Virginia’s ARECs.  

Ethan Frederick, ICP Spectroscopist

Hope, Laboratory Specialist Senior
Hope’s work specializes in growing plants in controlled research environments, as well as supporting field campaigns in environmental conditions. Hope’s current projects involve plant disease dispersal studies, plant tissue culture, pollen dispersal, and algal bloom sampling.

Steve, Laboratory Manager
Steve analyzes soil samples submitted from farmers, homeowners, and landscapers from across the commonwealth in order to provide lime and fertilizer recommendations for optimum plant growth and environmental protection.

Kevin, Field Greenhouse Manager
Kevin’s primary role is handling our field fungicide efficacy program.

John Hinson,, Field Greenhouse Manager

John, Research Specialist Senior
John manages, develops, and maintains the Urban Horticulture Center (UHC) as a facility for diverse research, teaching, and outreach purposes. Supervises daily activities, assists with research establishment and maintenance, teaching activities, and safety operations and training.  John also serves as the primary staff support for student participation in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC), assists with instruction of a Landscape Practicum course associated with the NCLC event, and collaborates with faculty in selecting, preparing, and annual travel with the student team. 

Devon, Communications Project Coordinator
Devon provides state-wide programmatic support of the Extension Master Gardener program. Devon manages program digital media, websites, press, program marketing, donor/volunteer recognition, and provides design and media support to Master Gardener units throughout the commonwealth.

Jon, Research Specialist 
Jon takes care of the wheat and barley at Kentland. Jon sprays using nitrogen and other fungicides, performs maintenance on equipment, drives the combine during harvest, and the tractor during planting. Supervises student workers, works in the greenhous,e and makes all the scab inoculum in the lab for two scab nurseries at Mt. Holly. Jon also treats all the seed planted in plots across the commonwealth.

Gregory, Farm Manager 

Haijie, Labratory Specialist Senior
Haijie contributes to several research projects in Dr. Vinatzer's and Dr. Wang's labs in environmental and plant microbiology and genomics and plant virology, using her wide range of skills in molecular biology, genetics, and bioinformatics. 

Courtney McCombs,, Soil Analyst

Kerri, Laboratory Specialist Senior
Kerri is manager for Bingyu Zhao and Mark Williams supporting graduate student research. Keri handles a variety of tasks including molecular cloning, Microbiology, and NextGen Sequencing library preparation. Kerri also manages sample preparation, field, and greenhouse work.

Steve Nagle,, Research Specialist
Steve provides support of lab analyses of soil and water samples. Steve is also the primary field technician/supervisor for soil and plant tissue sampling in the field. 

Muliang, Research Specialist
Muliang helps the soybean breeder with planting, harvesting, seeds packaging, seeds processing, data collection, and tests field management.

Earl, Laboratory Specialist Senior
Earl is the lab manager and safety officer. Earl also helps with student supervision, molecular biology, and cell biology.

Andrea Renshaw,, Laboratory Specialist II

Jerry, Agricultural Inspector
Jerry performs quality control field and labeling inspections for peanuts, soybeans, small grains, and turf.  Collects royalties on Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station public crop varieties and reports to Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties semiannually.

Brooks, Kentland Farm Research Manager
Brooks manages Kentland Farm.

John, Research Specialist
John works in the  small grains program. John’s primary responsibility is to help gather and analyze data to help the breeders select which lines to advance.  

Brent, Agricultural Technician
Brent mows, bushhogs, boom mows, sprays, fertilize, prunes, plants, and plows.