Affiliates: Plants

The 2023 IPBES Invasive Species Assessment indicates that more than 3,500 invasive species with documented negative impacts have been recorded worldwide. Although their numbers are likely to be underestimated and expected to increase, 1,061 plant species contribute to that statistic.

Dr. Jacob Barney

ISC Director and Professor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Barney’s research is broadly focused on the causes, consequences, epidemiology, management, and policy of invasive plant species.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Restoration ecology
  • Social science, economics, & policy

Dr. Shannon Bell

Professor
Department of Sociology

Dr. Bell is an environmental sociologist whose research has primarily focused on environmental and climate (in)justice in fossil-fuel extraction communities; however, her emerging areas of interest are focused on community-based restoration strategies on public and community-owned forest lands in Appalachia, including both invasive exotic plant species removal and the cultivation of native forest medicinal herbs and forest foods.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Restoration ecology
  • Social science, economics, & policy
Dr. Carrie Fearer

Dr. Carrie Fearer

Assistant Professor
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Dr. Fearer’s research explores the micro- and macro- level impacts of nonnative pathogens on forest ecosystems. She has studied laurel wilt disease, beech bark disease, beech leaf disease, and walnut witches’ broom.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Restoration ecology

Dr. David Haak

Associate Professor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Haak’s research is focused on identifying genomic regions of plants and microbes that can be used to improve plant health to promote a sustainable and secure food supply.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Genetics, genomics, & community/population structure

Jamie King

Urban Forest Manager and University Arborist
Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

King leads urban forest and arboricultural best management practices on the Virginia Tech campus.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Restoration ecology

Dr. Angela Larsen-Gray

Adjunct Faculty
Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Dr. Larsen-Gray’s research focuses on wildlife ecology in private, working forests throughout the eastern United States.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics

Mikel Manchester

Associate Specialist
Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education

Manchester works with Native American Tribes to promote traditional ecological knowledge.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Restoration ecology

Harrison Miles

Ph.D. Student
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Miles studies the biological control of tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) with a soil-borne fungus (Verticillium nonalfalfae) and their interaction with spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula).

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication

Grace O’Malley

Ph.D. Student
Department of Biological Sciences

O’Malley uses bioacoustic monitoring to aid in invasive species detection and management, and seeks to support the effective conservation of amphibians.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication

Dr. Leighton Reid

Assistant Professor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Reid studies ecological restoration and community assembly in tropical and temperate terrestrial ecosystems. 

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Restoration ecology
  • Social science, economics, & policy

Brian Ruether

Ph.D. Student
Department of Biological Sciences

Ruether studies chemically-mediated interactions between spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) and its host plants, tree-of-heaven and wine grapes.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
Scott Salom

Dr. Scott Salom

Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Entomology

Dr. Salom researches forest insect and weed pests, with an emphasis on developing tools and strategies to improve management for those pests. His main area of focus is the biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid and tree of heaven.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication

Dr. David Schmale

Professor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Schmale’s research explores how microorganisms are transported over long distances in the atmosphere.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Genetics, genomics, & community/population structure

Dr. John Seiler

Professor
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Dr. Seiler’s research explores the ecophysiology of invasive plants, including acclimation to changing environments (e.g. light and temperature).

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics

Tim Shively

Ph.D. Student
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Shively’s research explores the biocontrol of tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) with a soil-borne fungus (Verticllium nonalfalfae), as well as the restoration ecology of invaded areas.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Restoration ecology

Dr. Esra Buyuktahtakin Toy

Associate Professor
Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Dr. Buyuktahtakin Toy’s research explores optimal management of invasive species with mathematical modeling and artificial intelligence. Past species of interest include the emerald ash borer in North America, Sericea Lespedeza in the Great Plains, and buffelgrass in the Sonoran Desert.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Detection, management, prevention, & eradication
  • Social science, economics, & policy

Dr. James Westwood

Professor
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Westwood studies parasitic plants, both native and introduced, with special emphasis on their biological adaptations for parasitism and potential mechanisms by which host plants respond to parasitism.

Thematic Area(s):

  • Biology, ecology, & ecosystem dynamics
  • Genetics, genomics, & community/population structure