More than an on-site restaurant that links the buildings on the IALR campus and CyberPark residents, the Megabytes Café serves as the central point of activity for numerous businesses, residents, visitors and guests. Along with a menu suitable for any palette and a variety of dietary options, the café includes a luncheon buffet and salad bar as well as deli and pizza specials. A breakfast menu is also available until 10:30 a.m.

A recent renovation of the facility culminated with a May 16 celebration for frequent visitors and guests. The renovation included installation of three large TV’s showing sports and current events, new tables and chairs, booth seating, and a Coke machine that offers 85 different drink options. The bright green, purple, and blue atmosphere creates a welcoming environment for a diverse array of customers. People from local businesses, like Goodyear, EBI, Ikea, EIT and Jarrett Welding, along with students, researchers, employees, and retirees enjoy the daily menu offerings.

IALR partners with Sodexo, the leading provider of food services in the United States, to operate Megabytes as well as the IALR’s in-house catering service for events hosted at the facility. On-site dining at Megabytes enhances the opportunity for the community to enjoy the services of IALR on a regular basis, while networking with employees from the surrounding community and meet national and international visitors. Don’t be surprised to see a tour group with industrial prospects and local economic developers who love showcasing the facility to prospects who envision their company and employees in the region.

The daily menu can be viewed at www.ialr.org/megabytes or on the Megabytes’ Facebook page. Takeout and gift certificates are available. The café is open Monday - Friday 7:30am-1:30pm.

Additional photos from the Megabytes renovation can be viewed by clicking here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskycdyMD

Photos: People from local  businesses along with students, employees,  and retirees enjoy the daily menu offerings.  

IALR’s SMART tables continue to advance technologically. The tables, which are precision imaging platforms built to record and track plant growth and development, now have the ability to robotically test soil conditions such as moisture and temperature. This was made possible as part of a Virginia Tech Mechanical Engineering Senior Design project. The year-long challenge was spearheaded by five Mechanical Engineering students who were tasked to develop and implement the new modular heads. Additionally, a new camera platform was included to enhance computer vision analysis of plant growth and health. These improvements will enable IALR scientists to more precisely monitor plant growth conditions to better validate test results. The modular head design will also allow further development of new soil sensing probes in the future. 

Team members included: Jeonghee Lee, Rhythm Kim, Philip Meekhof, Brad Jones, and Tanner Gunn. Their advisor was Christopher Kappes. 

The Senior Design team visited IALR in May to install the new modular heads.

Photo: Chief Scientist Scott Lowman, PhD, VA Tech seniors Brad Jones, Philip Meekhof, Tanner Gunn, Jeonghee Lee, and Executive Director Mark Gignac (left to right)

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, Virginia has recently established a collaboration with Dr. Brent Nielsen, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The collaboration is centered on beneficial bacteria that are capable of increasing plant growth in agricultural soils containing high levels of salt. The bacteria isolated by Dr. Nielsen, called halophiles, will be tested on IALRs SMART table imaging system along with bacteria from IALR’s in-house endophyte library. 

“We are excited to be working with Dr. Nielsen on salt tolerant beneficial bacteria as this is an area of high interest with agricultural producers in many parts of the world” said Dr. Scott Lowman, Chief Scientist at IALR. Executive Director Mark Gignac noted that IALR plans to add an additional 1000 bacteria to our endophyte library, also known as our beneficial bacteria toolbox, during the 2018 growing season. 

Photo: Dr. Chuansheng Mei is shown with a dish of bacterial endophytes that solubilize insoluble phosphates. 

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