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Director & Entomologist AHSAREC

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Work type: Teaching & Research Faculty
Senior management: Agriculture & Life Sciences
Department: Alson H. Smith, Jr. AREC
Location: Northern Area
Categories: Agriculture / Life Science

Job Description

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is seeking a Director for the Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AHSAREC). This is a tenure-track position at the Associate or Professor rank with tenure home in the Department of Entomology. The Director is expected to maintain a highly productive research and Extension program in entomology with relevance to the vision and mission of AHSAREC.

AHSAREC pursues a vision of excellence in the land grant mission, including discovery, development, evaluation, and dissemination of technical information critical to Virginia’s commercial fruit and value-added horticultural food crop industries. Through research and Extension educational programs, the development of research-based solutions for sustainable production systems and technologies are translated to increase public knowledge of horticultural opportunities and benefits, train new leaders and expand workforce capacity, and the economic value of fruit production and practices in Virginia.

The primary responsibility of the Director, who serves as the administrative head of AHSAREC, is to provide unit leadership and support for regional, national and international excellence in integrated research and Extension programs appropriate for AHSAREC’s vision and mission. The Director has the unique opportunity to envision new directions and initiatives of relevance to the national and global funding priorities in support of regional stakeholders and Virginia’s agricultural economy. The Director will be instrumental in identifying new research and Extension program opportunities, expanding faculty involvement and leadership, and garnering stakeholder support and engagement in pursuit of the vision. Leadership activities include, but are not limited to, recruiting new faculty and facilitating the professional development of faculty, staff, and graduate students; developing and implementing short- and long-term strategic plans for the Center; managing the Center’s human, physical, and financial resources; and facilitating intra- and inter-departmental/AREC teamwork among faculty and staff and collaboration with other units on campus. The Director is responsible for providing or coordinating mentoring and professional development opportunities as well as providing annual evaluation of AHSAREC faculty and staff members, in pursuance of enriching the AHSAREC community and promoting collaboration, programmatic, and unit excellence. The Director will expand AHSAREC’s capacity in digital and precision agriculture in support of the VT SmartFarm Innovation Network.

The Director will maintain a liaison with agricultural leaders and producers in accordance with AHSAREC’s mission and goals and in support and alignment with CALS strategic plan and the mission and vision for both Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. VCE operates with leadership in two land grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, with four district directors, VCE Extension program teams, and 107 offices throughout the state. The Director facilitates AHSAREC involvement in interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research through the Virginia Tech Destination Areas and involvement of federal and state initiatives and priorities, such as the CALS Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture (CAIA), Commonwealth CyberInitiative (CCI), Growth Opportunities in Virginia (GO Virginia) and Vibrant Virginia, consistent with the AHSAREC vision and mission. The Director will collaborate with appropriate academic department heads on tenure and promotion actions for faculty positions.

● The successful candidate’s extension and research focus should be relevant to fruit entomology as it relates to the ecology and management of arthropod pests of horticultural crops, including fruit crops, the green industry, and others. The diversity of natural and agricultural fruit cropping systems across the Commonwealth and throughout the mid-Atlantic region requires an ecological approach in managing the pests that move freely among habitats. The AHSAREC entomology research and Extension programs will engage with the SmartFarm Innovation Network®, effectively collaborating across the AREC and Blacksburg campus faculty through CAIA and through other initiatives as appropriate. Examples of possible research and Extension areas include (not limited to):
● UAV-assisted and remote sensing of pests and pathogens for developing pest presence/prevalence and/or injury symptoms, predictive models and pest and disease management strategies
● Development/refinement and validation of IPM tools and tactics for established and invasive insect pests of horticultural crops, including fruit crops, the green industry, and others, based on pest ecology and behavior
● Refinement and validation of predictive insect pest phenology models under changing climatic conditions
● Insecticide resistance monitoring and management for key pests of horticultural crops, including fruit crops, the green industry, and others
● Evaluation of novel insecticide chemistries
● Organic alternatives for arthropod pest management
● Biological control of arthropod pests in tree fruits and wine grapes
● IPM of arthropod pests in protected horticultural systems such as high-tunnels and indoor farm systems

Expectations include successful recruiting and mentoring of diverse graduate students to degree completion, contributing to undergraduate experiential learning opportunities, working collaboratively with Virginia Cooperative Extension agents and specialists, and developing cooperative partnerships with external stakeholders. Extension programming will include delivery of research-based educational programs via contemporary training and teaching materials that will serve relevant commodity and agribusiness industries of Virginia, the region, nationally, and globally. This position will also support the mission of the land-grant university by participating in outreach activities and engaging local, state, and regional stakeholders. Participation in institutional and professional service activities that align with the candidate’s strengths will also be expected. In combination, the successful candidate’s career will contribute to the national and global recognition of AHSAREC and expansion of Virginia Tech’s reputation in this domain. This position requires occasional travel to attend conferences and meetings.

The Director of AHSAREC is responsible for ensuring that facilities and research plots are cared for and maintained by appropriate scheduling of responsible staff. Some seasons require longer times in the field and some travel and coordination of programming and field days will be required. Travel to other meetings (Blacksburg (campus), other ARECs, professional meetings) is a part of this role.

The Director reports administratively to the Director of VAES. Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. 

The AHSAREC is located in a rural setting near the town of Winchester, Virginia (Frederick County) in the northern region of the Shenandoah Valley, and is centrally located among major cities including Washington, DC (90 miles), Baltimore, MD (110 miles), and Richmond, VA (145 miles), the capital of Virginia.  AHSAREC has the opportunity to influence Virginia’s and the mid-Atlantic agricultural and food economy and agricultural tourism through creative visioning and strategic implementation. In the U.S., Virginia ranks 8th in wine production, 6th in number of wineries, and 9th in economic impact by state at $5B. With farm cash receipts value of $28.6M for apples, $19M for grapes, and $9.2M for peaches, these commodities rank 12th and 18th and 19th among farm commodities in Virginia. AHSAREC provides significant research and Extension support to these industries, contributing to the bioeconomy of Virginia.

AHSAREC, one of 11 ARECs in the VAES system and is the focal research and Extension center for  horticultural crops, including fruit crops. In addition to the Director, AHSAREC has 3 tenure-track faculty positions (2 plant pathology positions: fruit trees, grapes; pomology), an Extension enologist, 5 staff, and 4 research associates and visiting scientists.  The center includes 124-acre farm with over 40 field plots. The primary facility includes research labs, offices, meeting rooms in support of formal and non-formal education and Extension programs. The facility includes a 100-person classroom and is equipped to accommodate video conferencing.  person. AHSAREC faculty actively engage in the CALS Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture, in which the Virginia Tech SmartFarm Innovation Network® is a principal research platform.

Required Qualifications

● An earned Ph.D. in entomology, agriculture or related discipline that will support a highly competitive research and Extension program in entomology;
● Demonstrated effective professional leadership, interpersonal skills, and administrative experience, including personnel and fiscal management;
● Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively (oral, written) with individuals at all levels and from diverse backgrounds within the university, industry, and public sectors;
● Familiarity with working in a farm-based research facility;
● Strong commitment to applied research, Extension programming, and long-term sustainability of agriculture;
● Agricultural research and/or Extension program experience or equivalent industry experience;
● Demonstrated record of scholarly achievement in entomology, through industry and/or academic research and outreach/Extension, warranting appointment at the rank of a tenured associate professor or professor; applicants are not required to have attained full professor status prior to applying. Evidence includes, but is not limited to, scholarship, experience in obtaining extramural support from commodity and industry groups, governmental agencies, and/or foundations.

Preferred Qualifications

● Research and Extension accomplishments and impacts in insect ecology and/or pest management experience with horticultural crops, including fruit crops, the green industry, and others;
● Demonstrated research and/or Extension programming that contributes to the growth of digital agriculture and the SmartFarm Innovation Network®
● Demonstrated creativity in developing and implementing programmatic vision of relevance to research and Extension programs;
● Experience in developing and implementing strategic plans;
● Capacity for advancing innovation for applied agriculture research and Extension programming;
● Evidence of effective faculty, staff, and graduate student recruitment and mentoring.

Appointment Type


Salary Information

Commensurate with Qualifications and Experience

Review Date

February 7, 2022

Application Instructions

Individuals wishing to apply should go online to and search for Job#518008

Review of applications will begin on February 7, 2022 and continue until a suitable candidate is selected.

Applications should include:

  • The completed on-line application;
  • A formal, concise cover letter summarizing the applicant’s qualifications fitting the position;
  • A statement of vision (3-pages max) for the Director role of a nationally and internationally recognized off-campus Agricultural Research and Extension Center, including leadership style and values;
  • A 2-3 page statement of future (by 2030) research plans and Extension philosophy and programming interests, including how the applicant will complement existing Virginia Tech research and Extension programs;
  • A current curriculum vitae which includes a biographical sketch, service, administrative/management experience, and a complete list of research and Extension publications, student mentored, and grants; and
  • three (3) names and contact information of references who can assess the candidate’s qualifications for this position.

For Questions Regarding the Search, Contact:

Susan E. Duncan, Ph.D., R.D., Co-Chair

Associate Director, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station

Professor, Food Science and Technology

Director, Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture

Virginia Tech


Contact Information:

Matthew Chappell, Ph.D., Co-Chair

Director, Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Virginia Tech

Additional Information

The successful candidate will be required to have a criminal conviction check.

Must have a driver's license check

Must have an acceptable and safe driving record

About Virginia Tech

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.

Virginia Tech does not discriminate against employees, students, or applicants on the basis of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or military status, or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants, or on any other basis protected by law.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Dr. Susan Duncan at during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.

Applications close:

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