Elizabeth Grabau, professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences'  School of Plant and Environmental Science at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of professor emerita by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive an emeritus certificate from the university.

A member of the university community since 1990, Grabau made significant contributions to plant molecular biology and biotechnology for crop improvement of soybeans and peanuts. Specifically, her research used tissue culture and biotechnology approaches to improve nutrient (phosphorus) availability in soybeans and fungal disease resistance in peanuts.

Grabau led a long-term, highly productive collaboration with Patrick Phipps at the Virginia Tech Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, Virginia, to enhance disease resistance in peanuts. She also trained visiting international scientists in the area of bioregulation and risk assessment of genetically engineered crops. That program was funded through the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. 

In 2007, Grabau was the co‐recipient of the Bailey Award from the American Peanut Research and Education Society. She was active in the American Phytopathological Society through service on their public policy committee.

At Virginia Tech, she served as head of the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science from 2006 to 2015.

In the classroom, Grabau taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate level courses in the area of molecular biology and biotechnology in agriculture and society. She was an advisor for many students working on their master's degree and doctoral dissertations, as well as for postdoctoral research associates, and helped them develop successful careers in both academia and industry.

Grabau was involved in the inception of two graduate programs at Virginia Tech, in molecular cell biology and biotechnology and translational plant sciences. She was an instructor in each program’s core courses.

Grabau received her bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and her Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego.

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