Elizabeth A. Grabau, of Blacksburg, Va., will become the new head of the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, effective April 10.

“We are pleased to have Dr. Grabau serve in this leadership role within the college. The breadth and interdisciplinary nature of her plant science research gives her an excellent foundation to lead this diverse department,” said Sharron Quisenberry, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“I look forward to helping our department enhance its programs including its collaborative and interdisciplinary research activities,” said Grabau when commenting on her appointment. “I also hope to strengthen ties between our on-campus faculty and faculty at the Agricultural Research and Extension Centers. Increased interaction between these groups will help to foster new research and outreach possibilities, enhance the mentoring process, boost teaching expertise, and provide innovative programs that will benefit agriculture in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.”

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1990, Grabau’s research focus is in the area of plant biotechnology, with particular interests in crop improvement. Her current research projects include modifying soybean for improved phosphorus and nutrient availability, as well as biotechnology approaches to enhance disease resistance in peanuts.

She has taught multiple undergraduate and graduate courses in molecular biology and biotechnology. In addition to supervising graduate students and postdoctoral associates, she also has provided research opportunities to 20 undergraduate students in her laboratory.

Grabau was one of eight women faculty members to participate in the AdvanceVT Leadership Development Program, supported by the National Science Foundation, in 2005.

Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Grabau was a research associate at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. She also conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Utah. Grabau received her bachelor’s degree form Purdue University and her doctorate degree from the University of California at San Diego.

Ranked 11th in agricultural research expenditures by the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers students the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s leading agricultural scientists. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives students a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. The college is a national leader in incorporating technology, biotechnology, computer applications, and other recent scientific advances into its teaching program.