Research Day (RD) is an annual one-day event in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. It consists of a keynote presentation by department alumni and invited oral presentations by graduate students, breakout sessions with talks by graduate students, and poster presentations by graduate and undergraduate students. 

As such, it provides an opportunity for graduate students to showcase their research and fosters interaction among Biological Sciences research labs.  It also serves to update and highlight the breadth of research activities in the department to alumni and prospective graduate students.

The 2018 RD will be held on February 3, 2018. The deadline for breakout session oral presentation abstracts was Friday, January 12, 2018 at NOON.  The deadline for poster abstracts was Monday, January 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.  The deadline for registration for attendees who are not presenting was Friday, January 19, 2018 (registration is now closed).

Please note that this year, due to time and space limitations, students who are giving oral presentations, whether invited or during breakout sessions, will NOT be accommodated for poster presentations, as well. We are also aiming for having high quality breakout talks that reflect the exciting and diverse aspects of research that is unfolding in our department. Therefore, priority for breakout talk selection will be given to students with advanced research who approach graduation, and to students who have not presented yet at past Research Day events or who still need to fulfill the graduate program requirement to give a presentation. If you are NOT chosen to give a breakout talk, you will be automatically considered for a poster presentation and notified at least two weeks before the event.


Keynote Speaker

Martha Marie Vaughan Ph.D.

Research Molecular Biologist, Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research Unit


Title: "Atmospheric constituents influence plant-fungus interactions"

Dr. Vaughan is a molecular biologist with interdisciplinary training in plant stress physiology, defense signaling, and secondary metabolism. She received both her BSc (2004) and PhD in biology (2010) from Virginia Tech; her dissertation research was in Dorothea Tholl's lab. She conducted postdoctoral research on maize defenses against biotic and abiotic stress with the USDA-ARS Chemistry Unit at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville FL. In 2013, she joined the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research Team at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL to pursue research investigating the effects of abiotic stress on crop-fungal pathogen interactions and how they influence downstream mycotoxin production and grain contamination. Dr. Vaughan uses ecological, molecular and biochemical approaches to evaluate plant pathogenicity and the phenomena that naturally regulate mycotoxin in order to identify sustainable and climate resilient strategies to eliminate mycotoxin contamination in grain and enhance food safety. Dr. Vaughan received the Arthur C. Neish Young Investigator Award from the Phytochemical Society of North America in 2015, and the Agricultural Research Services Mid-West Area Early Career Research Scientist of the Year Award in 2017.

Dr. Vaughan has taken the Hokie mission beyond the campus into the workplace: “That I May Serve” by inventing/ bettering the future through agricultural research and knowledge. 

Invited Student Speakers

  • Ariel Leon (Hawley Lab)
  • Jingren Deng (Lazar Lab)
  • Daniel Medina (Belden Lab)
  • Tuo-Xian Tang (Capelluto Lab)

Breakout Session Student Oral Talks

There will be four breakout sessions with four presenters each. Presentations will be 12 minutes in length, with 3 minutes for questions. These sessions are designed to be interdisciplinary in order to showcase links across the department. Presenters should design their talks to be accessible to a broad scientific audience. . An award will be given for the best presentation for each individual session. In each session, two moderators (consisting of one graduate students and one postdoc) and an independent judge will evaluate the presentations. The moderators will be responsible for introducing the presenters, managing the time of the sessions, and most importantly, will aid in the selection of the best graduate student presentation in their sessions.



8:30 am - 9:25 am Coffee, refreshments, and poster setup  Latham Ballroom B and Foyer
9:25 am - 9:30 am Opening Remarks Alumni Assembly Hall
9:30 am - 10:30 am Keynote Presentation by Dr. Martha Vaughan, Alumni Assembly Hall Alumni Assembly Hall
10:30 am - 10:45 am Break (coffee, etc.) Latham Foyer
10:45 am - 12:05 pm Invited Student Oral Presentations Alumni Assembly Hall
12:05 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch  Latham Ballroom C-D-E-F
1:15 pm - 3:30 pm Breakout Session Student Oral Talks Alumni Assembly Hall and Latham Ballroom A
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm Poster Session and Happy Hour (from 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm) Latham Ballroom B and Foyer
5:30 pm - 6:00 pm Award Announcements Latham Ballroom B
6:00 pm - 6:30 pm Closing Remarks Latham Ballroom B


Abstract Submission Guidelines

Abstracts will appear in a digital abstract booklet that will be available on Research Day; they will not be published publicly online.  Guidelines for abstract formatting are available here; abstracts that are not formatted according to the guidelines will not be accepted. They should be e-mailed to Valerie Sutherland (; breakout session presentation abstracts are due by NOON on Friday, January 12, 2018, and poster abstracts are due by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 15, 2018. The deadline for registration for attendees who are not presenting is Friday, January 19, 2018. (registration is now closed)


Poster Submission and Printing Information

Posters should be 48" wide and 36" high; landscape is the preferred orientation.  Students are responsible for having their posters printed by submitting them, along with an ISR, to the Biological Sciences IT Support Lab no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 29, 2018. Guidelines for submission are available at the link below.