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.
“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.