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Research resources open house shines light on core services

Fralin Life Sciences Institute Executive Director Rob McCarley welcomes members of Virginia Tech's life sciences community to the inaugural research resources open house.
Megan Naff, lab manager for the Genomics Sequencing Center, welcomes members of Virginia Tech's life sciences community to the inaugural research resources open house.

The Fralin Life Sciences Institute welcomed members of the Virginia Tech life sciences community to its inaugural research resources open house at Steger Hall on April 27.

In his welcome message, Executive Director Rob McCarley, who joined the Institute in December 2022, said he hoped that attendees have the opportunity to learn about the capabilities the Fralin Life Sciences Institute has to offer for catalyzing research needed to arrive at the frontier research destinations in the life sciences. 

"But just as important is the other part of that equation—which is having the opportunity for us to learn from you how to best serve the life science community at Virginia Tech," said McCarley.

Designed to revolve around discussions involving the capabilities of research infrastructure provided by the Institute, the open house activities focused on core research facilities and research resources. Some of these activities developed as a result of collaborative interactions with colleges across the Virginia Tech campus, including the College of Science.

"You may recall during my interview that I made the statement that if you chose me as the executive director, I would charge you all to 'help me help you.' To that end, and with our vision and mission in mind today, we are here to learn from each other," shared McCarley. 

Core services highlighted at the open house included:

Genomics Sequencing Center, led by Megan Naff, laboratory manager; Jenny Jenrette, Next Generation Genomics specialist; and Kris Lee, Image analysis specialist.

Mass Spectrometry Incubator, run by Sherry Hildreth, research scientist/mass spectrometrist; and Keith Ray, senior research associate.

GlycoMIP, led by Maren Roman, director; Rich Helm, director of user program; Linda Caudill, managing director; Ryan Porell, research scientist/technical manager; and Brady Hall, postdoctoral associate; and Caylyn McNaul, laboratory technician.

Flow Cytometry Resource Laboratory, operated through the College of Veterinary Medicine, with Melissa Makris, serving as supervisor of Flow Cytometry Resource Laboratory.

Center for Biostatistics and Health Data Science, with the following team members representing the following areas: Derek Kaknes, data analytics; Monica Ahrens, biostatistics; JD Datta, bioinformatics; and Rachel Silverman, epidemiology.

In addition, the following services are offered through the Institute, including:

  • Janet Webster, VT-FAST (proposal support and development)
  • Sandy Hancock, Fralin Imaging Center and Program Manager for Biotech in a Box
  • Kristy Collins, Kids' Tech University

"As well, all those involved in our undergraduate research programs and those who help support the Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Programs, of which the Fralin Life Sciences Institute is a supporter of the Presidential Ph.D. Fellows Program, led by Chris Smith and guided by Laurel Miner," noted McCarley.

The Institute supports four core research centers, namely, the Global Change Center, Center for Coastal Studies, Translational Plant Sciences Center, and the Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens, as well as other affiliated centers across campus.