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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / May 

Professor Richard Veilleux receives Graduate School's outstanding mentor award

May 29, 2018

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Faculty Mentor Richard Veilleux

Photo of College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Faculty Mentor Richard Veilleux with a student in a greenhouse
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Faculty Mentor Richard Veilleux, right, with a student.

Richard Veilleux, the Julian and Margaret Gary Professor of Horticulture and interim head of the Department of Horticulture, has received the Graduate School’s 2018 Faculty Outstanding Mentor Award for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Sponsored by the Graduate School, the annual award recognizes excellence in mentoring graduate students. Students nominate recipients, and one professor from each college receives an award. Current doctoral candidate in horticulture Parker Laimbeer submitted the nomination and solicited input from former students.

Veilleux’s research focuses on plant breeding and genetics, with an emphasis on the potato. His work has used a range of modern tools, including genomics, transgenics, molecular marker analysis, and plant cell and tissue culture for plant improvement. He contributed to the development of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville and has collaborated with scientists both nationally and internationally. He has published more than 100 refereed journal articles and several book chapters. Most of these publications feature graduate students as first or co-authors.

Several of the students who nominated Veilleux spoke of his weekly lab meetings, group activities, and journal clubs that encouraged them to work with each other and build community. He has mentored 41 graduate students over the past 37 years and is known for supporting their goals and encouraging them to maintain a healthy balance between their graduate studies and their personal lives. His students credit him for modeling collegiality, balance, perseverance, and the ability to accept constructive criticism and to learn.

Karen Snider, his 11th graduate student and currently assistant dean at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Missouri, said, “The training I received under Dr. Veilleux’s mentorship has profoundly impacted my career to the benefit of my current profession and the students who I train.”

Veilleux earned his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, his master’s degree from the University of British Columbia, and his doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota.

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