Combined Total of $60,000 Available for Precision Machining Students

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is pleased to announce Dr. J. Scott Lowman has been named Director of Applied Research. Lowman, previously Chief Scientist at IALR, joined the organization in 2014, and, among other projects, has most notably championed work in biotechnology and advanced imaging to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability. Dr. J. Scott Lowman

“We are extremely fortunate to have benefited from Scott’s talents and expertise over the years, and I’m excited about the future of our Applied Research division under his leadership,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director for IALR. “From precision agriculture to advanced materials and analytical chemistry, I’m confident Scott and his team will continue producing exceptional work to help improve and inform industry’s research and development efforts, a vital part of our region’s economic transformation.”

An Altavista native and alumnus of Virginia Tech and the College of William and Mary, Lowman’s research has focused on two primary areas, biotechnology and advanced imaging. Lowman’s team seeks to identify promising natural microbial bio-stimulant and bio-control agents (including beneficial plant bacteria, or endophytes) to increase plant growth and health while protecting the environment. His team also uses the latest technology in unmanned aerial vehicles, multispectral and thermal imaging and robotics to improve plant productivity. 

In recognition of his work, Lowman was named a 2017 Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumnus at Virginia Tech and was presented the Commonwealth Environmental Leadership Award from the Waldorf Foundation. Lowman recently played an integral role in IALR’s recent licensure of a collection of endophytes to Indigo Ag, Inc., a leading company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. He has helped lead efforts to produce a library of more than 1,500 characterized endophytes, which continues to grow.

Before earning his Ph.D., Lowman spent eight years as an entrepreneur and businessman in the pharmaceutical industry and as a co-founder of Lynchburg Grows, a seven-acre non-profit urban farm in Lynchburg, Va., that provides space for individuals with special needs to learn job skills while growing produce. Now in its 15th year of operation, Lynchburg Grows continues to provide unique services through urban agriculture, including feeding more than 100 families per week in their community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, donating gleaned food to area food banks, employing individuals with special needs, and purchasing vegetables from area farmers.

New, Free Preview Event Open to Public Oct. 2, 5-7 p.m.

Celebrating five years, the SOVA Career ChoICE Youth Expo is expected to attract about 4,000 middle and high school students from seven localities, introducing them to local careers and better preparing them for work expectations. This year, the event has added something new – Expo in the Evening, a free, community-wide preview event, on Oct. 2 from 5-7 p.m. at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Center (ODAC), located at 19783 U.S. Highway 29 South in Chatham.

“We are extremely excited to offer Expo in the Evening and hope that everyone in our surrounding communities will attend to see this award-winning event for themselves,” said Dr. Julie Brown of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. “Our participating employers devote considerable time and energy to ensuring a highly interactive introduction to career sectors, and we took their advice to extend the experience to everyone throughout the community. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn what businesses and job opportunities are available throughout Southern Virginia.” 

The student Career ChoICE experience will be held Oct. 3-4 at ODAC and will actively engage approximately 4,000 seventh graders and high school students in career choices within the Virginia communities of Danville and Martinsville and the counties of Halifax, Henry, Mecklenburg, Patrick and Pittsylvania.

Community members are encouraged to attend the Oct. 2 Expo in the Evening event, where they can experience the same hands-on career sector activities as the students. They can interact with regional employers, learn about school divisions’ Career & Technical Education programs, and talk to area colleges about academic programs and financial aid. There will be a drawing for $100 Amazon gift cards 6:15-6:45 p.m.

Modeled after Southwest Alabama's Worlds of Opportunity, Career ChoICE exposes students to hands-on activities by inspirational adults to ignite students' imaginations about unlimited career opportunities in Southern Virginia. Career ChoICE showcases existing job opportunities so that students will have an option to stay in the region, based on an informed career decision with a clear understanding of skills needed, education levels required and salaries they can expect. This event is an intentional effort to build a pipeline of students in strategic sectors that are aligned with economic development interests.

Platinum-level sponsors of the event include the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, Averett University, Goodyear, Piedmont Access to Health Services (PATHS), the Danville Regional Foundation, The Harvest Foundation, Microsoft and J.T. - Minnie Maude Charitable Trust. Silver sponsors include Eastman, MedExpress and Centra Health. For more information, please visit or contact Jessie Vernon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2017 SOVA Career Choice Youth Expo Flickr Album




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IALR scientists are collaborating with regional growers to increase their revenue by working with them to graft English cucumbers. IALR scient...

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