Graduate Catalog
2013-2014
 
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Academics; once known as Natural Science Building. First section completed 1939; cost $127,650; second section completed Fall 1950; cost $485,300. Building contains 65,430 sq. ft. Named after Ellison Adger Smyth Jr. (1863 - 1941) who was Professor/Department Head of Biology from 1891 to 1925, and Dean of the Faculty from 1902 to 1906. An avid writer and photographer, Smyth founded and headed the Department of Biology at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (Virginia Tech).
238C, Mail Code:0404 185 Ag Quad Lane Blacksburg VA 24061
Smyth Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MS
MS Degree in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Blacksburg
• PhD
PhD Degree in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Blacksburg
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
540/231-7175
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Aug 01
Spring: Jan 01
Summer I: May 01
Summer II: Jun 01
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Department Head : Tommy Thompson
Graduate Program Director : Walter Daniels (Graduate Program Director)
Emeriti Faculty: Marcus Alley; Glenn Buss; James McKenna; David Parrish; Raymond Reneau
Professors: Azenegashe Abaye; Matthew Eick; Erik Ervin; Gregory Evanylo; James Goatley; Carl Griffey; Charles Hagedorn; Steven Hodges; Mohammad Saghai-Maroof; Carl Zipper
Associate Professors: Duane Berry; John Galbraith; David Holshouser (Tidewater AREC); Rory Maguire; Wade Thomason; Benjamin Tracy; Kang Xia
Assistant Professors: Brian Badgley; William Frame (Tidewater AREC); Takeshi Fukao
Research Faculty: Bo Zhang
W.G. Wysor Professor: Carl Griffey

Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Introduction

Graduate programs in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences (CSES) lead to both the M.S. (non-thesis and thesis options) and the Ph.D. degrees. The principal objective of graduate education programs is to educate students in advanced concepts and research methods in one or more subdisciplines of CSES and related programs. This is accomplished through courses and research that bridge a number of physical and biological sciences. Individually planned programs of study are developed to provide training and experience in environmental resource management and control, seed physiology, crop physiology, plant genomics and breeding, plant cell and developmental biology, tissue culture, and molecular genetics, and in the biochemistry, mineralogy, fertility, chemistry, classification, genesis, interpretation, microbiology, and physics of soils.

The Department also participates in several interdisciplinary degrees at the M.S. and Ph.D. level.

Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal : 500.0
      • Quantitative : 500.0
      • Analytical :
Establishing a Committee - The advisor and student will select an Advisory Committee no later than the end of the first semester of residence. The minimum number of members for the advisory committee are 3 for M.S. students, and 4 for Ph.D. students. The Ph.D. committee must have at least one member from outside the Department. At this meeting, the committee will become familiar with the student's training, background, and research interests. The committee also will orient and advise the student regarding research and course-work.

Plan of Study: Students are expected to present to their major advisor a draft Program of Study that meets all requirements. After review and approval by the major advisor, the Plan of Study must be reviewed and approved by all members of the students advisory committee. After approval, the Plan of Study is submitted to the Graduate School through the Student Administration Center in the Department. It is the student's responsibility to see that the Plan Study is submitted to the Graduate School on time (prior to completing 12 credit hours toward the M.S. degree, and before completing 18 credit hours beyond the M.S. toward the Ph.D. degree. Changes to the Plan of Study must be approved by the advisory committee and submitted to the Graduate School through the Student Administration Center.

Outline of Proposed Research - As research is initiated for a degree, a Research Proposal will be presented in writing and orally to the student's Advisory Committee. This proposal should include sections containing: (a) an abbreviated literature search; (b) clear and concise objectives; (c) proposed experimental procedures; and (4) data analysis and presentation procedures. The purpose of this requirement is to determine whether the research proposed is adequate to satisfy degree requirements and to assist the student in clarifying objectives and procedures. The time to present the proposal should be determined by the major advisor and the committee. Students are encouraged to begin this process as soon as possible in order to complete their studies in a timely manner and with minimal wasted efforts!

Report on Research - Each graduate student will present an annual progress report (one page maximum) to his/her Advisory Committee and other interested persons prior to the final examination. The purpose of such reports is to evaluate the research progress and make suggestions for modifications or additions to the research objectives or procedures. A copy of the report is to be provided to the Graduate Coordinator.

Preliminary Examination - Candidates for the Ph.D. degree should schedule the Preliminary Examination at an early date. This will allow the student time to take courses that the Advisory Committee may require to correct deficiencies. The preliminary examination must be taken at least nine months before graduation and prior to completing 2/3 of the required work (course work and/or research) for the degree.

Preparation of Theses/Dissertations or Non-Thesis M.S. Project Reports - The student, with the assistance of his or her major professor, has the responsibility for preparation of the thesis/dissertation/project report. While the Graduate School specifies certain formats, it leaves matters of style largely to departments, but urges that the style conform to the major professional or scientific journals in the student's area of interest. Therefore, the CSES Department suggests that theses/dissertations/project reports follow the style of journals of the American Society of Agronomy or other sources acceptable by the committee. Students may find that certain mechanical considerations for manuscripts will differ between ASA's and those specified by the Graduate School. Follow the Graduate Policies and Procedures in such cases. Preparation of the thesis/dissertation/project report in proper style will facilitate the preparation of manuscripts for publication. All theses and dissertations must be submitted to the Graduate School in electronic format. Seminars are given by the Graduate School each semester to familiarize students with the procedures needed to prepare the electronic submission. Students are expected to know these procedures and prepare the thesis or dissertation to meet all requirements.

Each section of the thesis/dissertation/project report should be prepared to the satisfaction of the Major Professor before being given to the other members of the Advisory Committee for review. Each section is to be provided to the committee members as it is completed. All sections of the thesis/dissertation are to be reviewed by the committee at least 30 days prior to the examination. Students will provide the members of the Advisory Committee the complete and revised thesis/dissertation at least 10 days prior to the oral examination/defense.

Even though each member of the Advisory Committee will have provided suggestions or requirements for revisions of the thesis/dissertation/project report prior to the final examination, some corrections or additions will always be necessary even following a successful final examination. The Graduate School allows a period of two weeks after the final examination to submit the final version of the thesis or dissertation. The final project report is submitted only to the Major Advisor and Advisory Committee.

Foreign Language Requirement - The department does not require a foreign language for any degree.
Offered In (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal : 400.0
      • Quantitative : 500.0
      • Analytical :
Establishing a Committee - The advisor and student will select an Advisory Committee no later than the end of the first semester of residence. The minimum number of members for the advisory committee are 3 for M.S. students, and 4 for Ph.D. students. The Ph.D. committee must have at least one member from outside the Department. At this meeting, the committee will become familiar with the student's training, background, and research interests. The committee also will orient and advise the student regarding research and course-work.

Plan of Study: Students are expected to present to their major advisor a draft Plan of Study that meets all requirements. After review and approval by the major advisor, the Plan of Study must be reviewed and approved by all members of the students advisory committee. After approval, the Plan of Study is submitted to the Graduate School through the Student Administration Center in the Department. It is the student's responsibility to see that the Plan of Study is submitted to the Graduate School on time (prior to completing 12 credit hours toward the M.S. degree, and before completing 18 credit hours beyond the M.S. toward the Ph.D. degree. Changes to the Plan of Study must be approved by the advisory committee and submitted to the Graduate School through the Student Administration Center.

Outline of Proposed Research - As research is initiated for a degree, a Research Proposal will be presented in writing and orally to the student's Advisory Committee. This proposal should include sections containing: (a) an abbreviated literature search; (b) clear and concise objectives; (c) proposed experimental procedures; and (4) data analysis and presentation procedures. The purpose of this requirement is to determine whether the research proposed is adequate to satisfy degree requirements and to assist the student in clarifying objectives and procedures. The time to present the proposal should be determined by the major advisor and the committee. Students are encouraged to begin this process as soon as possible in order to complete their studies in a timely manner and with minimal wasted efforts!

Report on Research - Each graduate student will present an annual progress report (one page maximum) to his/her Advisory Committee and other interested persons prior to the final examination. The purpose of such reports is to evaluate the research progress and make suggestions for modifications or additions to the research objectives or procedures. A copy of the report is to be provided to the Graduate Coordinator.


Preliminary Examination - Candidates for the Ph.D. degree should schedule the Preliminary Examination at an early date. This will allow the student time to take courses that the Advisory Committee may require to correct deficiencies. The preliminary examination must be taken at least nine months before graduation and prior to completing 2/3 of the required work (course work and/or research) for the degree.

Preparation of Theses/Dissertations or Non-Thesis M.S. Project Reports - The student, with the assistance of his or her major professor, has the responsibility for preparation of the thesis/dissertation/project report. While the Graduate School specifies certain formats, it leaves matters of style largely to departments, but urges that the style conform to the major professional or scientific journals in the student's area of interest. Therefore, the CSES Department suggests that theses/dissertations/project reports follow the style of journals of the American Society of Agronomy or other sources acceptable by the committee. Students may find that certain mechanical considerations for manuscripts will differ between ASA's and those specified by the Graduate School. Follow the Graduate Policies and Procedures in such cases. Preparation of the thesis/dissertation/project report in proper style will facilitate the preparation of manuscripts for publication. All theses and dissertations must be submitted to the Graduate School in electronic format. Seminars are given by the Graduate School each semester to familiarize students with the procedures needed to prepare the electronic submission. Students are expected to know these procedures and prepare the thesis or dissertation to meet all requirements.

Each section of the thesis/dissertation/project report should be prepared to the satisfaction of the Major Professor before being given to the other members of the Advisory Committee for review. Each section is to be provided to the committee members as it is completed. All sections of the thesis/dissertation are to be reviewed by the committee at least 30 days prior to the examination. Students will provide the members of the Advisory Committee the complete and revised thesis/dissertation at least 10 days prior to the oral examination/defense.

Even though each member of the Advisory Committee will have provided suggestions or requirements for revisions of the thesis/dissertation/project report prior to the final examination, some corrections or additions will always be necessary even following a successful final examination. The Graduate School allows a period of two weeks after the final examination to submit the final version of the thesis or dissertation. The final project report is submitted only to the Major Advisor and Advisory Committee.

Foreign Language Requirement - The department does not require a foreign language for any degree.

Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences Facilities Introduction

The department has extensive facilities, instruments and equipment for many kinds of research and teaching in crop, soil and environmental sciences. Laboratories are instrumented for physiological research on seeds and whole plants; forage quality analyses; for plant cellular/molecular biology, tissue culture, molecular genetics, and breeding research on crop plants; for micro-biological research in water quality, nitrogen fixation and biological control of plant diseases; for modelling research on contaminant movement to ground-water; for soil chemistry and physics research on waste product utilization; for soil testing and plant analysis research on nutrient recycling and on economic inputs in crop production; for soil genesis research relative to land use and soil taxonomy; and for soil mineralogy and physical chemistry research on soil acidity and on thermodynamics and kinetics of anion and cation reactions in soils.

In addition to departmental laboratories, traditional agronomic equipment, greenhouses and extensive field facilities at Blacksburg, the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station has research facilities at twelve locations throughout Virginia. Of particular note are field facilities for grazing research and forage-livestock systems, turfgrass, tobacco, peanut, soybean, corn, and small grains research. Excellent computer and library facilities are available. Also available on campus are electron microscopes, and an electron probe, a mass spectrograph, and facilities for biotechnological research.
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