W.Va. State University Opens Research Labs at Regional Technology Park


W.Va. State University Opens Research Labs at Regional Technology Park
WVSU the first university to move into South Charleston facility

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston has been invaded by Yellow Jackets. That is, the West Virginia State University Yellow Jackets. Staff members with WVSU’s Agricultural and Environmental Research Station (AERS) moved into offices and laboratory space at the hilltop facility in July.               

Currently, three labs and multiple offices are housing WVSU-led projects focusing on agricultural and environmental research. Drs. Barbara Liedl and Amir Hass are working out of the facility fulltime, with technician and graduate student assistance.               

Hass’s research at the lab is aimed at developing environmentally sound, agronomically beneficial and economically viable solutions to minimize the environmental footprint of selected land uses. “We are working to develop solutions to promote sustainable use of soil and water resources and improve the quality of life and economy of our local communities,” says Hass.               

Liedl’s work will focus on improving disease resistance in crops. She and her team will evaluate tomato breeding lines and help transfer insect and disease-resistant traits into the crops. Such research is beneficial to the growing number of small farm operators in the Mountain State.               

“The number of vegetable farms in West Virginia has almost doubled in the last six years,” says Liedl. “Even with this increase in agriculture, though, it is hard for small farms to remain competitive using traditional crop production andmarketing.”   Finding alternative approaches to growing crops or new varieties not currently grown on a large-scale commercial basis in the United States can provide a greater return on small-farm investment, compared to traditional products and practices, says Liedl.               

Liedl and Hass are both excited to be one of the early academic adopters of the Technology Park facility. While the Kanawha Valley Community & Technical College will begin offering classes at the site this fall, WVSU is the first university to have an on-site presence, one that officials hope only continues to expand.-more-WVSU Moves into Tech Park                                                                                                                                                                    

“There’s so much potential for more growth here,” says Dr. Robert Barney, associate dean and associate director of AERS. “My vision is for this to be the WVSU wing of the Technology Park.”   Hass and Liedl are hoping to explore collaborative opportunities with other entities on site. “This is a great opportunity for our students to observe firsthand research being done by the other organizations using these labs,” says Liedl, “and perhaps even explore internship opportunities with some of them.”                             

Providing solid opportunities for WVSU students to participate in landmark research is a primary focus for WVSU’s new president, Dr. Brian O. Hemphill. “Expanding the campus community into the West Virginia Regional Technology Park creates unique research and practicum experiences for State students,” he said, “which makes our graduates even more qualified for careers in the competitive fields of agricultural science and technology.”               

WVSU is planning to occupy additional lab and office space in the coming months as administrators continue to strengthen the university’s standing as a premier research institution in West Virginia.  The West Virginia Regional Technology Park is a 258-acre, diversified, multi-tenant research, development and commercialization park located in South Charleston. Donated to the state in late 2010 by Dow Chemical Company and deeded to the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Tech Park adds significant capacity to the state’s academic, research and economic development missions. The park has a more than 60-year history of research and technological contributions, starting in 1949 as Union Carbide Corporation’s primary research center, where thousands of researchers and scientists developed tens of thousands of chemical inventions and patents.   

The West Virginia Regional Technology Park is located at 3200 Kanawha Turnpike in South Charleston. WVSU staff is housed in building 740. West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multiā€generational institution, located in Institute, WV. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.  

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