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Student Research

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This is the place to turn your passion into a project

That’s exactly what Dylan Willard was able to do when his love of skateboarding led him to look into the possibility of recycling skateboard decks. An initial inquiry into whether he could use the facilities at the Brooks Forest Products Center turned into a formal research project in which he created wooden panels made of strips of skateboards and tested the samples for various qualities. As result of this work, Dylan wrote and published a research paper with his professor, Joseph Loferski.

You’ll meet plenty of undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Natural Resources and Environment who are doing their own research projects or working with a faculty member. Check out Dylan’s video and talk to a faculty member about your own research niche.

A female transcontinental bicyclist for Bike the U.S. for M.S. with outstretched arms a lake and tree covered mountains in the background.

Combining research and a good cause

Geography major Emily Gregory wanted to spend her summer pedaling with Bike the US for MS but also wanted to complete a research project, so she found a way to combine her two passions. While completing the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, Gregory used GIS, field observations, and interviews to explore the link between food deserts and socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. She earned credit for her research and later presented her findings at a regional meeting of the American Association of Geographers.

Student research in the news

  • Article Item
    A group of people stand in front of a display on a convention floor.
    Virginia Tech students drive the sustainable future of packaging at PackEXPO , article

    Students gain critical networking and career development experiences while presenting on the future of sustainable packaging at the industry’s largest convention.

    Date: Jan 23
  • Video Item
    A snapshot of native wildlife research
    A snapshot of native wildlife research , video

    Professor Marcella Kelly in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and undergraduate students in The Wildlife Society at Virginia Tech conduct research on native wildlife around Mountain Lake. Each fall, students place non-invasive camera traps (motion-triggered digital cameras) on trails and use the recorded images to study bear, coyote, and bobcat populations.

    Date: Dec 06
  • Video Item
    Students and faculty are ensuring your Amazon delivery arrives safely
    Students and faculty are ensuring your Amazon delivery arrives safely , video

    Students and faculty at the Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design are certifying packages for use in the Amazon distribution network. The certification ensures that products will survive the harshness of physical distribution. "Due to COVID we saw a huge increase in people that want that certification," said graduate student Mary Paz Alvarez Valverde, noting that manufacturers that once relied on brick and mortar had to switch over to e-commerce since the pandemic.

    Date: Nov 18

As a wildlife conservation major, Deirdre Conroy built much of her undergraduate career around research. She began working with Professor Marcella Kelly during her freshman year, entering data for a camera trapping project. After completing projects on bat composition and diversity, she traveled to Belize to study how sustainable logging impacts jaguars.    

Find your research niche

Our research happens on local, regional, national, and international scales. It’s applied, practical, and often interdisciplinary. And it focuses on the most important issues of our time. Visit these sites to learn more about opportunities for conducting undergraduate research:

Students tackle real-time packaging challenges

Packaging students monitor and measure a pallet test hero

At the college’s Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design, students are asked to find solutions for packaging problems that companies face. The result is a collaborative effort that connects leading companies with expert professors and students eager to take on the challenges of the packaging industry. The center also hires paid student interns who work on research projects brought to the center while simultaneously gaining certifications they can carry into the job market.

For graduate students

Independent research is a critical part of the program of study for most graduate students. Check out our faculty experts by department and connect with those who may have projects in your area of interest.