BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 2, 2011 – Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has named J. Roger Harris, of Blacksburg, Va., head of the Department of Horticulture, effective Oct. 1. Harris has held this position on an interim basis since July 2008.
“The Department of Horticulture is a vital component of the college’s academic programs and its sustainability and green industry efforts, supporting Virginia communities and pioneering research in the field,” said Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “The college has truly benefitted from Roger’s experience and leadership. We are very pleased that he will continue serving the department in this capacity and that he is committed to leading its future growth.”
Virginia Tech’s Department of Horticulture offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in a range of applied plant science topics — from landscape design and sustainable urban landscaping to biotechnology, crop production, and plant breeding. The department maintains active research and outreach programs that focus on solving applied plant science questions with state, national, and international impact.
Harris first came to Virginia Tech in 1993 as an assistant professor and has taught classes in nursery crops, plant propagation, and landscape contracting. He has focused much of his research on tree establishment and root growth and has authored more than 60 manuscripts in scientific journals, along with numerous other publications. He has also advised more than a dozen graduate students on their research, theses, and dissertations.
Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Harris worked at nurseries in Michigan and Virginia. He then moved to Florida where he worked as chief horticulturist for the largest landscaping company in northern Florida for 11 years.
Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from Georgia Tech and another in horticulture from Michigan State University. He also holds a master’s degree in environmental horticulture from the University of Florida and a doctorate in urban horticulture from Cornell University. He is a member of the American Society for Horticultural Science, the International Society of Arboriculture, and the Arboriculture Research and Education Academy.
Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.
Written by Kelly Robinson, a senior majoring in communications and international studies and an intern for the Office of Communications and Marketing in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.