Robert “Bob” Smith is retiring after serving nearly 30 years as a professor and former head of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials. Smith had a 14-year career in forest products and sales before embarking on a Ph.D. in forest products marketing and management at Virginia Tech.

Smith started his academic career as a CNRE extension specialist, working within the forest products industry to strengthen relations with the university while bringing real-world challenges to students. Smith later served as associate dean of engagement for the college and was appointed head of the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials in 2012. As department head, Smith oversaw the doubling of undergraduate enrollment and the establishment of two new academic programs in packaging and sustainable biomaterials.

“The one thing that made the difference at Virginia Tech was all the fine individuals who helped me along the way,” Smith said. “I was fortunate to have great mentors when I started my career, and our industry partners have always been supportive of our department’s efforts. I’m thankful for all that my colleagues have done to make my 30 years at Virginia Tech a very special time, and I have great memories of my time here.”

Was Professor Smith your teacher, advisor, or mentor? Please consider a gift to the Department of Sustainable Biomaterials in his name. To learn more, contact Julia Allen, assistant dean of advancement, at