The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is pleased to announce and accept applications for the 2019 Summer Internship Program. The program will place nine interns in meaningful, on-the-job training experiences at IALR in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and data analysis/research. 

“To effectively prepare our future talent and meet the needs of area employers, we are excited to once again offer students and graduates this real-world leadership development opportunity in the form of an IALR summer internship,” said Dr. Julie Brown, IALR’s Director of Advanced Learning. “Thanks to the support of the IALR Foundation, we are able to cultivate a high-quality talent pipeline across multiple STEM disciplines vital to the economic transformation of our region.”

To be considered for the eight-week, paid project, candidates must be one of the following:  (1) a high school graduate with plans to attend college in the fall of 2019, (2) an undergraduate or graduate level college student or (3) a recent college graduate who completed a college degree within the last 12 months. For the most part, the project will be completed June-July 2019.

Available internship opportunities include:

  1. Biotechnology to Develop Natural Plant Biostimulants with Dr. Chuansheng Mei
  2. Biotechnology to Develop Natural Plant Pesticides with Dr. Chuansheng Mei
  3. Precision Agriculture with Samantha Smith-Herndon
  4. Agricultural Technology Internship – SMART Table with Daniel Caccavelli (two positions)
  5. Research and Data Analysis for the Southern Virginia Region with Linda Green
  6. Marketing and Communications with Allison Moore
  7. Talent Development and Career Pathways in Manufacturing and Engineering with Dr. Julie Brown (two positions)

Interns will receive a stipend of $2,750 paid in two equal installments ($1,375) after four weeks of demonstrated success. The anticipated weekly time commitment is 28 hours, and the IALR mentor will set the work schedule during the intern orientation.

Applications are due by 4 p.m. (EST), March 15, 2019. The internship application, other information and detailed project descriptions are available at For more information, please contact Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 434.766.6711, or Betty Wilcher, IALR’s Human Resources Manager, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 434.766.6747.

Berkley Toufas, a 2018 IALR summer intern (left), assisted IALR’s Samantha Smith-Herndon (center) with the precision agriculture drone project and shared the technology with children attending a STEM camp.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has been awarded $395,105 in funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) to establish an ISO-Certified Analytical Testing Facility. The lab will meet ISO 17025 certification requirements, serving and supporting the needs of the agricultural community in the TRRC footprint. 

“As new agricultural markets are on the horizon for interested Virginia farmers, we are excited to work with the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to one day offer a critical testing component to ease entry into these markets and encourage their growth,” said Mark Gignac, IALR’s Executive Director. “This is one aspect of how we constantly seek ways to support the growth and economic transformation of our region, and agriculture certainly remains a vital part of our economy.”

Organic vegetable, wine, hops, barley and industrial hemp are just some of the emerging markets requiring testing for safety and marketability. The lab will help new farmers entering these potentially profitable sectors by providing accessible, affordable testing for pesticides, heavy metals, biological contaminants and more. The program aims to diversify the region’s agricultural outputs, promote agribusiness growth and increase agribusiness profitability.

One emerging market, industrial hemp, was recently approved through the 2018 Farm Bill signed into legislation at the federal level in December. IALR is positioned to serve as a market catalyst for this industry by offering the highest quality testing services at an affordable rate thanks to the funding from TRRC. Both growers and processors may benefit from the ISO-certified testing. Industrial hemp is used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including health and natural food products, supplements, skin products, clothing, bioplastics, insulation, biofuel and more.

“The emerging industrial hemp market will provide increased opportunities for regional growers wishing to diversify,” said Dr. Scott Lowman, Director of Applied Research at IALR. “The Institute is poised to be a leader in the industrial hemp market by combining plant science expertise with analytical chemistry and market connections.”

Part of the funding will allow the purchase of an elite research equipment item. UPLC-MS/MS, or Ultra-Performance Liquid Chromatography-tandem Mass Spectrometer, is a chemistry technique that combines the physical separation capabilities of liquid chromatography (separating a chemical mixture into its individual components) with the mass analysis capabilities of mass spectrometry (measuring the molecular masses of the chemical compounds within a sample). The Waters Xevo TQ-XS model will take this technology to a new level, expanding analysis accuracy, sensitivity and reproducibility with automated system optimization, status monitoring and reporting.

IALR Analytical Chemist Jack He provides analytical methodology development and chemical testing services to help speed decision making processes, and quantifies the efficacy of products under development.

51,250-square-foot, $25.5 million Center to enhance Southern Virginia’s advanced manufacturing field