The Zika virus has quickly become a major health threat, and researchers at Virginia Tech are looking for ways to curtail its spread.
Fralin Life Science Institute’s Vector-Borne Disease Research Group team members, from left: Zhijian “Jake” Tu, professor of biochemistry; Brantley Hall, biochemistry graduate student; Atashi Sharma, entomology graduate student; and Igor Sharakhov, associate professor of entomology
The virus, which is primarily spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, has been passed on to a growing number of Americans since early 2016, and the World Health Organization has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Biochemist Zhijian “Jake” Tu is one of several Virginia Tech researchers zeroing in on the Zika virus. Tu is studying genes that turn biting female mosquitoes into males, and he is exploring genetic strategies to stop the transmission of the Zika virus by reducing the number of female mosquitoes. Male mosquitoes do not bite and are harmless to humans, while female mosquitoes bite humans to get the blood they need for egg production.
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From soybean fields to hemlocks forests, experts from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Virginia Cooperative Extension are developing ways to deal with and control the hitchhikers, interlopers, and otherwise nasty pests known as invasive species.
Jacob Barney, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, is just one of a team of faculty members studying invasive species and protecting Virginia producers from their destruction.
“The top 10 pests that we deal with now are non-native, and we spend lots of money to control them,” said Eric Day, an entomologist with Virginia Cooperative Extension and manager of the Insect Identification Lab in the Department of Entomology.
Meanwhile Assistant Professor Jacob Barney in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, collaboratively studies another invasive species — Johnsongrass — a weed that chokes out crops on farmland because of its fast-growing and extensive root structure.
Barney will study what makes Johnsongrass a globally successful weed and use the research to establish a model for studying other weeds and how to predict invasiveness.
Another most-wanted intruder, the brown marmorated stink bug, is an annoyance to homeowners, but the real problem is the millions of dollars in damage it causes to crops across the Mid-Atlantic region.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., July 23, 2015 – John McGee, a professor and geospatial specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, received the 2015 Distinguished Geospatial Education Partner Award from the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence.
McGee was recognized for his work with the Expanding Geospatial Technician Education Through Virginia’s Community Colleges (GeoTEd) project, a Virginia-focused effort designed to build academic pathways to employment for geospatial technicians through Virginia’s community colleges.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., April 17, 2015 – Edwin J. Jones, director of Virginia Cooperative Extension and associate dean of the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently was recognized by the Virginia Agribusiness Council for his outstanding service to the agribusiness industry.
Jones received the 2015 Land-Grant University award last month at the 2015 Virginia Cooperative Extension Professional Development Conference in Blacksburg. The council presents awards annually to faculty, staff, and administrators of the commonwealth’s land-grant universities, which include both Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, for meritorious or exemplary services to the industry of agribusiness during their careers.
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Professor Carl Griffey showcases new crop varieties at a field day at the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Warsaw, Va. Seedsmen, producers, and grain exporters benefit from Griffey’s research because they rely on small grains for their livelihoods.
Professor Carl Griffey’s research to develop new strains of wheat does more than help the nation’s grain producers compete in the global market. His work also generates millions of dollars for the commonwealth and Virginia Tech. Read More