Nicholas Santantonio has been named an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

He is one of a number of new faculty members hired in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences this academic year. New positions were identified to bring talent to the college's focus areas, including food, health, the environment, and the economy. The new faculty members are distributed across teaching, research, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Santantonio leads the small grains breeding and genetics program at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on integrating the latest genotyping and phenotyping technologies to accelerate genetic improvement of wheat and barley for new and changing environments. He combines a background in applied plant breeding with quantitative genetics to optimize breeding procedures and reduce generation times.

Santantonio has worked in several public breeding programs, including alfalfa breeding at New Mexico State and small grains breeding at Cornell. He has partnered with many domestic and international collaborators, including scientists at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico and Kenya, and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India.

Santantonio received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New Mexico State University in genetics and plant and environmental science, respectively. He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University in plant breeding and genetics.