Job Announcement: Director for the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Applications are invited for the position of Founding Director of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. Moving through final approval stages, the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences will be a national and international leader for improving human well-being and quality of life through learning, discovery and engagement in plant and environmental sciences. The School’s faculty will integrate fundamental discovery as well as applied science to enhance plant and soil health, protect water resources and quality, improve food security, design intelligent human landscapes, and promote environmental stewardship. The School will integrate three outstanding departments that share certain mission elements: Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science. These units already share cross-cutting interdisciplinary research, and will be further connected through undergraduate curricula and linked graduate programs, as well as through statewide research, Extension and Outreach activities. The School will initially consist of 86 affiliated faculty, 64 staff, and over 100 graduate students, and will have over $8 M in annual research expenditures. The School will provide an unparalleled opportunity for interdisciplinary research in the food, energy, water nexus as part of a new University focus on Global Systems Science.

The director will provide leadership for the design and implementation of the curricula, infrastructure, and new hires for the School. The responsibilities of the Director will be to provide strategic leadership and vision for the School, effectively oversee administrative, fiscal and human resource matters, advocate with external stakeholders, and pursue development opportunities. In addition to those core responsibilities, the Director will actively conduct impactful scholarship within the School’s mission. The individual will be hired at full Professor rank, with the expectation of tenure.

Applicants must apply online (, use posting # TR0170012).  When applying for this position, please include in the online application a Curriculum vitae, a cover letter summarizing leadership philosophy and vision for the position, along with the names of three references who may be contacted. Inquiries concerning the position or application process should be directed to Dr. Glenda Gillaspy (  Applications received by March 15, 2017, will receive full consideration, but applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

PhD seminar: Feb. 10th at 1pm, 403 Saunders

Mara Grossman will present a seminar on her PhD dissertation research “Controlling Growth in Echinacea Hybrids” (nursery/greenhouse container production)  in advance of her defense:  Friday, Feb. 10th  at 1:00 p.m., 403 Saunders. Seminar is open to faculty, staff, grad students, and undergrad students.


New hybrid Echinacea cultivars, based on crosses of Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench with several other Echinacea species, have generated interest and excitement in the marketplace due to novel flower colors and forms. However, these cultivars vary significantly in their growth habits and requirements from the species. We examined factors in the production of Echinacea hybrid cultivars to provide guidance to growers. Foliar sprays 600 mg·L-1 benzyladenine (BA) increased branches in Echinacea cultivars while 400 mg·L-1 dikegulac sodium or 500 mg·L-1 ethephon did not improve branching. Of several height control PGRs applied to E. ‘Marmalade,’ only two applications of 5000 mg·L-1 daminozide reduced height although flowering was also reduced. Echinacea ‘Harvest Moon,’ had decreased height in response to all of the PGRs applied, with the best results seen in plants treated with foliar sprays of uniconazole (1 application of 30 mg·L-1 or two applications of 15 mg·L-1 ), two applications of 5000 mg·L-1 daminozide, or 4 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol applied once as a drench. Supplying N at 150 mg·l-1 during the growing season provided Echinacea cultivars adequate nutrition and maximized number of branches, flowers and shoot dry weight. In overwintering, fertilization treatments that resulted in low substrate electrical conductivity going into dormancy resulted in the highest survival rates of Echinacea cultivars. As a monitoring tool, SPAD measurements were not successful in predicting tissue N levels in Echinacea hybrids. Twenty-one hybrid cultivars acquired as stage 3 tissue culture plantlets were grown under one of three photoperiods (10-hour, 16-hour, and 24-hour) for ten weeks before being transplanted to larger containers and grown under natural daylength until flowering. Providing Echinacea hybrid cultivars with a 16-hour photoperiod during liner production resulted in plants which flowered soonest without negative effects on growth. The need for height control PGRs varied by cultivar; however, overall height control PGRs reduced flower stalk height and increased market rating.

Horticulture Position Announcement: Hahn Garden Director and Instructor

The Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech seeks applications for the position of Garden Director and Instructional faculty (administrative/professional faculty, 12-month, non-tenure-track). The responsibilities of the position are twofold: instructor in the Landscape Horticulture and Design major and Director of the Hahn Horticulture Garden. These complementary responsibilities consist of the following:

Garden Director: Lead the Hahn Horticulture Garden (HHG) – a 6-acre teaching and display garden on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. As part of a major land-grant university, the garden’s mission encompasses teaching, outreach, and research, with an emphasis on enhancing the Horticulture undergraduate curriculum by serving as a living laboratory for students in several courses. The HHG outreach mission focuses on youth and adults in the community and regularly partners with Virginia Cooperative Extension and associated organizations. The HHG generates operating revenue via facility rentals, a membership program, special events, and gifts. The director will supervise three staff members, student workers and interns, plus a dedicated group of community volunteers. The director will plan and oversee implementation of all design/redesign projects within the Garden, in collaboration with garden horticulturists. The director will oversee garden programs and outreach to the public. Effective communication skills and a dedication to customer service and collaboration with other faculty, staff, units, administrators, and stakeholders are required. The HHG Director will work with the CALS Office of Development in developing and implementing a fund-raising strategy targeting individual and corporate gifts to build the HHG endowment.

Teaching: Develop and teach courses for the Horticulture-based landscape design curriculum (2-3 courses per year) Courses can be based on instructor’s interest/experience but should include components such as basics of sustainable design including graphics, site assessment, planting design, and hardscape construction. Additional course content will address issues and identify solutions in regards to storm water management, green infrastructure, invasive plants, and biodiversity. Courses ideally will utilize the HHG to some extent for hands-on student projects. The instructor will assist with student advising including leadership of the NALP student team (National Association of Landscape Professionals) and will solicit input and support from green industry professionals.

As we transition from a Horticulture Dept. to a School model, the position will report to the Director, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, CALS.

The job announcement can be found here: