Drill Field header illustration


Deb Kelly, Ph.D.

Deb Kelly, Ph.D.

Deb Kelly, associate professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, was awarded $2.1 million by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study the protein that gives rise to a hard-to-treat form of breast cancer.

This is her third concurrent R01 grant, which funds a specific line of research for five yearsh.

“The awarding of three concurrent R01 research grants through the rigorous National Institutes of Health peer-review process from the National Cancer Institute to an early- to mid-career scientist who is working on different aspects of a common problem is highly unusual,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of VTCRI and Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology. “It is indicative of the high regard that Debbie’s colleagues have for her and her work.”

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Beamer Statue dedication

Frank Beamer was honored with a statue at Lane Stadium

On Oct. 6 during a special ceremony, Virginia Tech’s Indoor Practice Facility was renamed to honor the Frank Beamer family, as well as a significant leadership gift from the John Lawson family. The naming followed an earlier unveiling of a monument in Moody Plaza celebrating Beamer.

John and Paige Lawson, along with Frank and Cheryl Beamer, were recognized in a midfield ceremony at half-time, complete with a salute from Skipper.

The National Football Foundation also conducted an on-field salute of Beamer, who was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame in his initial year of eligibility, presenting the coach with a commemorative plaque that will stay on permanent display at Virginia Tech.

A 1975 geophysics alumnus of Virginia Tech, Lawson is the executive chairman of W. M. Jordan Co. He was co-chair of Virginia Tech’s last $1 billion comprehensive campaign, a past Rector for the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, and co-founder of the Meyers-Lawson School of Construction Management at Virginia Tech.


Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire

The researchers examined lake catchments—areas of land where water runs into a freshwater lake—at Lake Mendota in Wisconsin, Oneida Lake in New York, and Lake Sunapee (pictured) in New Hampshire.

Scientists have long studied the effects of humans on lakes, but a new examination led by researchers at Virginia Tech explores how those ecological impacts can cycle back to affect humans. The study, published in the journal Ecosphere, offers a new model for protecting and maintaining lakes.

“Lakes provide so much in terms of drinking water, recreation, aesthetic value, and more,” said Kelly Cobourn, project lead and assistant professor of water resource policy in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. “People derive a lot of value from connecting with lakes. We also understand that humans degrade the quality of lakes with some of the choices they make. We provide a roadmap for understanding and approaching these problems that hasn’t been used before.”

The study, which is in its third year, brings together researchers from Virginia Tech, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Michigan State University, and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. The team uses coupled natural and human systems modeling to understand how humans and the environment affect one another.

This project aligns with the university’s Global Systems Science Destination Area.

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Eighteen Virginia Tech history students recently collaborated on writing and editing a book on the iconic rock band, the Beatles. Available now online as an eBook and for purchase through Amazon, “Welcome to the Beatles” brings fresh perspectives on the Fab Four from writers born more than 25 years after the group last played together.

“I've taught the senior seminar on the Beatles a couple of times, but this is the first published book to come out of it,” said Robert Stephens, an associate professor of history. “I chose the Beatles because it allows the students an exciting way into writing about global history, as you can see from the book. They find it engaging, often because of their parents’ or grandparents’ interest in the band.”


lab test evaluates helmets

The lab's testing evaluates helmets by recreating common features of real-world bike crashes, including the fact that a cyclist's head will usually hit the asphalt at an oblique angle—measured here by an inclinometer.

The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has released its first set of ratings for bicycle helmets after more than two years of dedicated research.

Each helmet’s score on the familiar five-star scale reflects its ability to reduce head-injury risk. Four helmet models earned all five stars, with the Bontrager Ballista MIPS at the top. Two helmets merited only two stars; the rest fell in the three- or four-star range. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety funded the project and contributed to the research.

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A crane helps lift a roof panel onto FutureHAUS Dubai.

A crane helps lift a roof panel onto FutureHAUS Dubai.

As a 100-ton crane helped students hoist the last solar roof panels for FutureHAUS Dubai into place, Thanhthao “Michelle” Le beamed like a proud parent.

“I’ve spent three years of my life on this,” said Le, of Herndon, Virginia, who graduated last month from the School of Architecture + Design. “Concepting, researching, designing, presenting, collaborating, building. To see it come to life is almost beyond words.”

With all 18 of the house’s signature prefabricated “cartridges” now connected, the team will transform it into a solar home for the Solar Decathlon Middle East as the competition’s only U.S.-based team. The 10-day global challenge takes place Nov. 14-28 in Dubai, where 21 universities will compete to win the distinction of designing and building the world’s best net-positive-energy home.

This year’s competition&emdash;launched by the U. S. Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority&emdash;tasks teams with building a grid-connected solar home that performs optimally in Dubai’s desert climate and supports the city’s bid to have the world’s smallest carbon footprint by 2050.

FutureHAUS Dubai builds on years of Virginia Tech housing research expertise. After winning the 2010 Solar Decathlon with LumenHAUS, Virginia Tech explored how factory manufacturing processes could enhance construction efficiency and technology integration in homebuilding. The resulting FutureHAUS prototype burned in a fire in February.

Virginia Tech’s Solar Decathlon team is a diverse, interdisciplinary group, comprised of 65 students and 15 faculty members representing five colleges, 14 disciplines, and seven countries.

Read the full VTNews story.


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appointed two new members to the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors July 1.

The new board members are Edward H. Baine, of Chesterfield, Virginia, senior vice president for distribution for Dominion Energy’s Power Delivery Group; and Preston M. White, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, CEO of Century Concrete.

Northam also reappointed Mehul Sanghani, of Vienna, Virginia, founder and CEO of Octo Consulting Group, and Horacio Valeiras, of La Jolla, California, CEO of Frontier Global Partners LLC.

Baine, Sanghani, Valeiras, and White are graduates of Virginia Tech, and all are members of the university’s Ut Prosim Society. Their terms on the board run from July 1 through June 30, 2022.

Read the full VTNews story.


Hongxu Guo (left) and Alex Leonessa with the autonomous watermelon harvester.

Hongxu “Howard” Guo (left), a double major in mechanical and electrical engineering, and Alex Leonessa, mechanical engineering professor and advisor of the Virginia Tech agBOT team, with the autonomous watermelon harvester.

The Virginia Tech agBOT team clinched first place in the third annual 2018 agBOT Challenge at Gerrish Farms in Rockville, Indiana, earning a top prize of $30,000.

The national event, hosted by Gerrish Farms and airBridge LLC, was broken into two separate challenges&emdash;weed and feed and harvesting&emdash;with university and industry teams competing head-to-head for $100,000 in prizes.

Virginia Tech’s team won the watermelon harvesting challenge by creating an autonomous system that could locate, identify, sort, and harvest ripe watermelons in a field. Each team in the harvesting competition was scored in mechanics, software, innovation, and execution.

Read the full VTNews story.


A team of scientists led by Shuhai Xiao, of the Virginia Tech College of Science, have discovered the oldest known footprints ever found, estimated at 540 to 550 million years old.

Found in a small chunk of sediment rock in a shallow sea bottom in China, the tiny tracks millimeters in width were made by an unknown bug-like creature no bigger than a thumb. The footrail is only a few inches long, no bigger than an average hand palm. The findings of these ancient footprints were published in Science Advances and may help scientists determine when and how legs and limbs evolved.

The new fossils are up to 10 million years older than previously known footprints.

Funding for the study was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Science Foundation, and the National Geographic Society.

Read the full VTNews story.


Longtime Virginia Tech Foundation workhorse Raymond Smoot Jr. ’69 was honored on June 5 with the dedication of Smoot Drive in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

Smoot Drive was renamed after the reconfiguration of the Southgate entrance to campus, which was reworked from a stoplight intersection with U.S. 460 into a full exit and entrance, with access both to the Corporate Research Center and to the main campus.

Smoot joins Frank Beamer as the second member of the Class of 1969 to have a street on campus named for him.

Read the full VTNews story.


Students, commuters, and campus visitors have a fresh way to get around thanks to Roam NRV, a new bike share program launched by a regional partnership including Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Montgomery County.

There are currently 12 bike stations in the network with eight on the Virginia Tech campus. Seventy-five bikes are in circulation with plans to expand in the future.

Read the full VTNews story.


A Year of Generosity

Virginia Tech giving highlights during the 2018 fiscal year.

$153.6 million

In new gifts and commitments during the 2018 fiscal year that ended June 30.


Alumni giving participation rate.


total donors, including individuals, corporations, and foundations, for new gifts and commitments.

More than


Beyond Boundaries Scholars for fall 2018,
up from 137 in fall 2017.

$24.6 million

From annual fund donors
up 8%.

Tens of thousands of donors made more than $153.6 million in new gifts and commitments, combined, to the university during the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“I continue to be impressed by the spirit and generosity of the Hokie Nation, and I’m grateful for our donors’ commitment to the future,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “They make it possible for us to fulfill our land-grant mission to change lives and communities through research and education, and they empower our vision to become a leading global university.”

A total of 33,020 individual donors, corporations, or foundations made new gifts or commitments to the university in fiscal 2018. The university’s fiscal year runs from July through June.

Multiple colleges and programs saw increases in new gifts and commitments. Donations to the Pamplin College of Business more than doubled, to nearly $13.9 million, and donations to Virginia Tech Athletics rose 59 percent, to nearly $44.7 million.

Major gifts that fueled the university’s fundraising in fiscal 2018 included $20 million to support the launch of the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program, $15.2 million—the single largest outright gift ever made to Virginia Tech Athletics—for a new Student Athlete Performance Center, and $5 million to establish the May Family Foundation Pathway for First-Generation Students.

Read the full VTNews story.


students in the studio

Boeing's support for Virginia Tech's Calhoun Honors Discovery Program will allow students to engage in collaborative, transdisciplinary projects under the supervision of Discovery Program faculty and with Boeing experts available for advice.

In a significant marker of industry support, Boeing has made a substantial commitment to Virginia Tech's Calhoun Honors Discovery Program.

Boeing’s $3 million will establish the Boeing Studio to allow students to engage in collaborative, transdisciplinary projects under the supervision of Discovery Program faculty and with Boeing experts available for advice.

“We are honored and excited to expand Virginia Tech’s partnership with Boeing in such a transformative way,” President Tim Sands said. “The Calhoun Honors Discovery Program is focused on high-impact technology innovation that advances society, which occurs at the intersection of areas of knowledge. As a global leader in using highly engineered systems to solve complex problems, Boeing is an ideal partner for this bold new program.”

Boeing will support the studio by funding full-time Boeing Distinguished Professors of Practice, who will divide their time between Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus and Boeing. In addition, Boeing staff will lend technical expertise by serving as visiting industry mentors, leading workshops, giving lectures and demonstrations, and helping to place students in internships. Additionally, Boeing will engage with the College of Engineering and the Virginia Tech community through special events.

“Boeing is proud to support this trailblazing new program that will help Virginia Tech students develop the skills they need to become the innovators of the future,” said Tim Keating, executive vice president of government operations for Boeing. “Future graduates of the Discovery Program will be the creative problem solvers we need at Boeing to continue building the products that connect and transform the world. I can’t wait to see what these students create.”

Boeing will also participate in the research of the Calhoun Center for Higher Education Innovation. The goal of the center is to connect the Discovery Program to national best practices for structuring and assessing adaptive, cross-cutting curricula for life-long learning.

Read the full VTNews story.


Dwayne Pinkney

Dwayne Pinkney

Dwayne Pinkney, senior associate vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been named senior vice president for operations and administration at Virginia Tech.

“As we complete our campus master plan and strategic planning process, building upon key initiatives, including Destination Areas and InclusiveVT, Dr. Pinkney’s leadership will be essential to managing the financial and operational resources necessary to achieve our Beyond Boundaries vision,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.

Pinkney will oversee all aspects of the financial and operational enterprises of the university, including financial affairs, human resources, policy and governance, and planning and facilities management.

Pinkney received his Ph.D. in political science from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He received his bachelor’s degree in English and journalism from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Read the full VTNews story.


Lisa Wilkes

Lisa Wilkes

Lisa Wilkes has been named vice president for business affairs at Virginia Tech. Wilkes will serve as the principal deputy and senior advisor to Dwayne Pinkney, senior vice president for operations and administration and will work closely with university leaders to drive change, enhance business strategies, and advance operational and administrative goals. Wilkes began her career at Virginia Tech as a graduate student intern in 1995. During her tenure with the university, she has held multiple positions of increasing responsibility, including serving as assistant vice president for finance from 2009 to 2012, assistant vice president for business services from 2012 to 2015, and associate vice president for administration from 2015 to 2017. Wilkes holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Radford University and a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.


Bryan Garey

Bryan Garey

Bryan Garey, assistant vice president of human resources for talent at the University of Virginia, has been named vice president for human resources at Virginia Tech.

Reporting to Senior Vice President for Operations and Administration Dwayne Pinkney, Garey will lead and implement a transformation of human resources policies, practices, staff, and technologies at Virginia Tech.

Garey brings nearly 25 years of human resources experience—including 15 years in public higher education—to Virginia Tech. He has spent the past 10 years in progressively higher-level management positions at the University of Virginia. From 2001 to 2008, Garey worked at the University of Florida. He began his professional career at MCI Worldcom in 1993.

Certified through The Society of Human Resources Management, Garey earned a master’s degree in management from the University of Florida, a master of fine arts degree from the University of Virginia, and a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Read the full VTNews story.