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Core Research Centers

Images of fires , coastal regions, infectious disease, and plant/vegetation.
The Fralin Life Sciences Institute fosters solutions to environmental grand challenges, with its four core centers: Global Change Center, Center for Coastal Studies, Center for Infectious Disease, and Translational Plant Science Center.

Fostering Solutions to Environmental Grand Challenges. In FY'22, the Fralin Life Sciences Institute resources helped support:

  • $133 million in new research awards by affiliated faculty
  • 1500+ students and postdocs
  • 9 colleges
  • 400+ affiliates and personnel
  • 25+ departments
  • 1 shared vision
Researchers in the lab at the Fralin Life Sciences Institute

The Center for Coastal Studies’ mission is to inspire societally relevant solutions to the complex challenges emerging in the coastal zone.

Nearly half of the world’s population lives in the coastal zone and is, therefore, exposed to impacts of terrestrial and marine processes. Currently, six in ten Virginians live in the coastal zone. Sea-level rise, urbanization and other stressors threaten important nodes of the global economy, critical infrastructure for civil and national security, and fragile ecosystems. Human and ecosystems well-being, economic prosperity and security are interdependent and form a complex coupled network, defining a nexus of resource limitation, opportunity, and vulnerability from which knowledge crucial for the design of sustainable solutions can emerge–the Center for Coastal Studies overarching goal.

The Center for Coastal Studies promotes a vibrant future for the world’s coastal zones through enabling, facilitating, and rewarding transdisciplinary research, education, and engagement.

     

Robert  Weiss
Robert Weiss
Director, Center for Coastal Studies
weiszr@vt.edu
Sharon Stacy
Sharon Stacy
Coordinator, Center for Coastal Studies
sharonstacy@vt.edu

Infectious diseases are constantly emerging and re-emerging worldwide, causing immense threats to the health of humans, animals, and plants. This is especially clear now as researchers tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused more than 16 million human infections worldwide. To meet this challenge, Virginia Tech has created the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens.

The vision of the center positions Virginia Tech to become a national and international research and training resource that is a leader in advancing transformative science and developing effective countermeasures against emerging infectious diseases. As one of the core center for the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, affilated faculty represent at least seven colleges and more than 25 departments on campus.

Kylene Kehn-Hall
Kylene Kehn-Hall
Associate Director
Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens
kkehnhall@vt.edu
Sarah Gouger
Sarah Gouger
Coordinator
Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens 
sgouger@vt.edu

Exponential human population growth has altered ecosystem and planetary processes, straining natural resources and the oceans, forests, grasslands, and freshwaters that are critical to a prosperous society.  A more interdisciplinary understanding of these human-induced changes is urgently needed  to inform public policy, minimize further environmental degradation in the face of a rapidly growing society, and to promote sustainable solutions to the greatest environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Because interdisciplinary research and student training are essential  to tackle the new frontier of global environmental challenges, the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech was founded in 2015. The center brings together experts from diverse disciplines to solve these complex global challenges and train the next generation of leaders.

Bill Hopkins
Bill Hopkins
Director, Global Change Center
hopkinsw@vt.edu
Bri Willis
Bri Willis
Coordinator, Global Change Center
bmwills@vt.edu
Jessica Zielske
Jessica Zielske
Coordinator, Global Change Center
jcoker@vt.edu

The Translational Plant Sciences Center (TPSC) is a community of researchers committed to advancing basic knowledge in the plant sciences and translating this knowledge into improved crop production. Supported by the Fralin Life Sciences Institute, the center provides unique career growth opportunities for affiliate faculty, graduate students, postdocs, undergraduate students, and alumni. 

Our research is diverse, with locations that range from the atmosphere to the rhizosphere, at scales that range from cellular networks to ecosystems. What unites us is a sense of urgency that new tools are needed to ensure that global needs for food, feed and fiber will be met in an ecologically sustainable manner.

We believe that basic molecular research is an important component of this imperative, as are projects that translate new knowledge into practical solutions for sustainable agriculture. Such research requires interdisciplinary collaboration, and much of our research takes place in teams within and beyond Virginia Tech. We are also committed to training students for diverse career opportunities in academia, industry, agriculture, and government. These commonalities underpin a remarkably strong, cohesive community that spans six departments and three colleges. 

Crystal Founds
Crystal Founds
Coordinator, Translational Plant Sciences Center
crystalf@vt.edu