Graduate Catalog
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Translational Plant Science
Interdisciplinary Academic Programs
The William C. and Elizabeth H. Latham Agriculture and Natural Resources Building is a laboratory facility that supports plant science teaching and research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Natural Resources. Named after William C. and Elizabeth H. Latham. The Lathams have made several other significant contributions to Virginia Tech, including those to enhance the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the livestock teaching arena, and to the Northern Virginia 4-H Center.
Latham Hall Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA 24061 Blacksburg VA 24061
Latham Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
IGEP Degree in Translational Plant Science
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
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Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Jan 01
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Latham Hall

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Graduate Program Director : Guillaume Pilot (TPS Director)
Professors: Eric Beers; Glenda Gillaspy; Jason Holliday; John McDowell; Mohammad Saghai-Maroof; Birgit Scharf; David Schmale; Ann Stevens; Dorothea Tholl; Boris Vinatzer; James Westwood; Mark Williams; Brenda Winkel; Bingyu Zhao
Associate Professors: Brian Badgley; Jacob Barney; Amy Brunner; Eva Colla'kova'; John Jelesko; Song Li; Guillaume Pilot; Xiaofeng Wang
Assistant Professors: Bastiaan Bargmann; David Haak; Gota Morota; Susan Whitehead; Bo Zhang

Translational Plant Science

Translational Plant Science (TPS) is the process through which knowledge from basic research on plant genetics and genomics is used to improve agricultural productivity.  The central goals of the TPS program are to (1) create a new training model to prepare molecular plant scientists to function along the bench-to-marketplace pipeline; (2) catalyze interdisciplinary research to address challenges in food security, plants as biofactories, and biomass.

 Our Center ( spans six departments and three colleges, and is designed to foster the mindsets and skills students need to link basic plant science with downstream applications, which include: a global perspective on the challenges and opportunities presented by plant diseases; the ability to frame novel, use-inspired research questions and to pursue the answers within interdisciplinary teams; an awareness of the social and economic impacts of agricultural biotechnologies and plant disease and the ability to engage the public in meaningful dialogue about these complex issues; the ability to function effectively in the diverse cultures of the professions outside of academia that play key roles in the translational plant science pipeline (e.g. business, regulation, policy).

The Graduate Program in Translational Plant Sciences is an integral part of the TPSC. It allows students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in this discipline to work in a wide variety of research areas ranging from plant genomics to disease resistance, metabolic engineering, bioproduction and bioprocessing, and forest biotechnology.

 TPS degree candidates who enroll in the program participate in several rotations through laboratories of interest. The program of study includes selections from a range of course offerings, tailored to the background and interests of each student. At the end of the first or second semester of enrollment, a permanent advisor is selected in whose laboratory the dissertation research will be conducted.

 The diversity in the TPS program is evident by looking at the federal agencies that fund them: National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and National Institute of Health. Moreover, many laboratories are also supported by various Virginia and US grower organizations and industry.

Colleges and Departments:

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
    Animal and Poultry Science
    Biological Systems Engineering
    School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
College of Science
    Biological Sciences
College of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

For more information please contact John McDowell, Principal Investigator,

Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
    • Paper
      • 600.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal :
      • Quantitative :
      • Analytical :
Minimum GPA from bachelor degree: 3.0

NO GRE required

TOEFL Scores required: Paper-based 600 minimumComputer-based 250 minimumInternet Based TOEFL (IBT)100 minimum
IELTS: Band 6.5 minimum

Latham Hall

A group of approximately thirty faculty and many more students in seven departments in the Colleges of Agriculture, Science, and Natural Resources use molecular approaches to understand how plants grow and interact with their environments.
Most faculty are housed in Latham Hall. The physical proximity of the research groups enables students, post-docs and faculty to interact freely with one another. Regular activities and seminars enable all TPSC members to get together and exchange ideas and news, and build the community spirit the TPSC is renowned for.

The William C. and Elizabeth H. Latham Agriculture and Natural Resources Building provides research and office spaces, a conference room, and a lounge for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Natural Resources and Environment. 

The building contains eight full-size growth chambers that are two stories tall and enable researchers to conduct research on life-size trees. Our researchers in seven core areas are working on finding answers to today's problems.

Latham Hall

Many of the TPS faculty members are housed in Latham Hall. Opened in 2006, the five-floor, 85,000 sq. ft. building houses researchers from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Natural Resources and Environment, and the College of Science.  Building equipment includes multiple reach-in growth chambers, eight walk-in growth chambers, an insectary, and resources supporting mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography.

A 40-person seminar room, a conference room, and several smaller meeting rooms are available for researcher interaction and informal gatherings.

John McDowell, a Professor of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science (PPWS), is the Fralin Life Science Institute Principal Scientist responsible for the general oversight of the building and coordination. The Fralin Institute provides funds to seed new research initiative and for maintenance, repairs, and upgrades of common equipment.