Discovering Breakthroughs

Discovering breakthroughs is not just a goal, but a reality within the labs of the Applied Research division. Each day, the staff focus on projects driven strictly by the needs of industry in order to help foster economic transformation. While our Analytical Chemistry group offers elite testing services, our Advanced Materials labs provide cutting-edge characterization and polymer testing capabilities. The groundbreaking agricultural enrichment efforts of our Controlled Environment Agriculture and Plant Endophyte Research teams add to our pride in enhancing human life and presenting commercialization prospects.

Meet Our

Vice President, Applied Research

Scott Lowman, Ph.D.

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Office: 434.766.6628
Meet The Team

Controlled Environment Agriculture 

By developing strategic partnerships with both industry and academia, the goal of the Innovation Center is to conduct research and educational programming to develop, promote and advance the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) sector. CEA helps protect plants from disease and stress while providing ideal growing conditions for high-quality, quick-to-harvest food products.

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Analytical Chemistry

With cutting-edge equipment and talented scientists, the research team at IALR provides analytical chemistry services, including methodology development and chemical testing services. Clients include local growers, businesses of all sizes from various industries, and government contracts. We provide analytical services that help clients speed up the decision-making processes and quantify the efficacy of materials or products.

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Plant Endophyte Research Center

IALR’s Plant Endophyte Research Center is the first of its kind in the U.S. It leverages private and public partnerships, an elite team of scientists and exclusive equipment and testing services. A library of 2,000 endophytes, or beneficial plant bacteria, show promise as natural biostimulants—reducing chemical fertilizer use and preserving the environment.

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advanced Robotic Imaging

Some of the world’s most unique and innovative plant imaging technology has been developed here at IALR. The SMART Platform, or the Spatially and Mechanically Accurate Robotic Table, allows researchers to automatically take thousands of photographs over a plant’s life cycle, collecting data from beginning to end. With a mix of computer and human analysis of these photos, researchers can examine plant growth at every stage of development, allowing for a better understanding of the impact of different variables on plants.

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Advanced Materials

Equipped with polymer testing and characterization capabilities, IALR’s high-tech advanced materials labs are ideally suited to support industry needs. Private manufacturers as well as universities have utilized the polymer labs to solve and prevent complex problems across various industries and sectors.

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Success Stories

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East
Hosted at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), the annual Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East brings hundreds of producers, educators, scientists, engineers, developers, extension specialists and other industry members together. Building alliances, sharing information and forging new connections are key themes that drive the success of the event.
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Endophyte Research
A unique venture at the forefront of biostimulant research, the Plant Endophyte Research Center at IALR leverages private and public partnerships and funding to study how endophytes can enhance agricultural production.
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AeroFarms Locates in Danville/Pittsylvania County
One of the leading vertical agriculture companies in the world, New Jersey-based AeroFarms chose to establish the world's largest aeorponic smart farm in the Cane Creek Centre in large part due to the nearby presence of IALR. 
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"We’re willing to work closely with our clients to develop methodologies and targeted analysis specific to their needs."
Yimeng “Jack” He, Senior Analytical Chemist / IALR
"The IALR Analytical Chemistry Lab provides testing services that give clients the data that they need to move forward. What sets our lab apart is that we provide those services at a high level and a low cost."
Dr. Scott Lowman, Vice President of Applied Research / IALR
"In terms of quality control, we are making sure that our products are in good shape for the customer. Jack and the team are helping us to achieve that goal."
Wei Zheng, Lab Technician / Mara Labs
"We have been working with IALR through the many growth stages of our company and could not have asked for better partners along the way. IALR's state of the art facilities and talented scientific team have helped us take our RNA technologies from lab to field."
Ameer Shakeel, Founder, CTO / AgroSpheres
"“The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research has proven to be invaluable to the Town of Altavista by helping to bring about a possible closure to the problem of PCB contamination in our communities’ waste water treatment pond. They are truly an asset to our region.”"
Mike Mattox / Mayor of Altavista
"“The word “opportunity” epitomizes the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. IALR is a place where students, faculty, researchers, and entrepreneurs are actively working together to reach their full potential. IALR provides the ecosystem where discovery, innovation and commercialization is nurtured and celebrated. The leadership of IALR are invested in…"
Dr. Guru Ghosh / Virginia Tech

What is your next breakthrough?