Mary Marchant of Blacksburg, Va., professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, received the university's 2010 Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in International Research is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who has had a significant impact on international research at Virginia Tech. Selection is based on contributions to the internationalization of Virginia Tech, global impact, significance of the project, and sustainability of the project. Recipients are awarded $2,000.

Marchant leads a multi-institutional, multidisciplinary research team that has positioned Virginia Tech as a leading university in Chinese international trade, policy, and markets. Her research team has analyzed the competitiveness of U.S. soybeans in the Chinese domestic market in light of China's growing expertise and application of biotechnology. In 2008, U.S. soybean exports to China totaled $7.6 billion, accounting for 46 percent of total U.S. soybean exports.

According to Kevin Boyle, professor and head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Marchant's research benefits U.S. producers and agribusiness leaders who seek to understand economic factors that influence current and future Chinese policies and regulations regarding biotechnology, as well as American policymakers who need rigorous economic analyses to examine opportunities and barriers to accessing Chinese markets.

"The research conducted and led by Dr. Marchant has significantly expanded the body of knowledge concerning U.S.-China trade relations and has uniquely and notably enhanced international research at Virginia Tech," Boyle said.

The research also uniquely analyzes critical market implications for both supply and demand of biotech foods in China.

Marchant's research has brought $2.4 million in extramural funding, advised a Ph.D. student's thesis on China, and provided analytical results for refereed publications and presentations to academic and government audiences. She has taught an introductory course on the economics of food and fiber systems and an internship course on job success at Virginia Tech.

In addition to teaching awards from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (formerly the American Agricultural Economics Association) and Gamma Sigma Delta, Marchant received a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Agricultural Economics in 1998. She co-edited a special issue of The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management and Economics on "Agricultural Biotechnology in China," and is an associate editor of Agronomy Journal and a member of the Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Society.

Marchant currently serves as a board member for the International Association of Agricultural Economists and previously served as president of the Southern Agricultural Economics Association. She has received leadership and service awards from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Board on Agriculture Assembly and the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

A native of the central valley of California, Marchant was a professor of international trade and agricultural marketing in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky before coming to Virginia Tech in 2006. She earned her bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning and policy analysis, her master's degree in economics, and her doctorate in agricultural economics. All three degrees were from the University of California, Davis.