Our Team

Our most important team, of course, is all of you. You are the athletes, parents, students, homeowners, caretakers, and concerned individuals who appreciate the many benefits of turfgrass. In addition, there are other important members of our team.

Virginia Tech Turfgrass Team

The team at Virginia Tech works diligently to study the science behind turfgrass, perform exhaustive research, and develop innovative new ways to help turfgrass make an even greater impact on our lives.

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Mike Goatley Jr.

is Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist in VT’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. His primary job responsibilities are statewide development and implementation of educational outreach programs for all areas of Turfgrass management and he conducts applied research that focuses on turfgrass cultivar evaluations and various aspects of improving and promoting environmental stewardship in turfgrass management. 

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Tom Kuhar

Is a Professor and Agricultural Pest Management Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology at Virginia Tech. His current research focuses on the ecology and pest management of key pests of vegetables, row crops, and turf grass. Extension responsibilities include developing and disseminating up-to-date and practical solutions to manage arthropod pests.  With regards to turf grass, he is currently researching the biology and management of annual bluegrass weevil in VA as well as evaluating insecticide efficacy for that and other pests.

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Shawn Askew 

Is an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech's School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. The research endeavors of Dr. Askew's position are closely tied to his extension activities. Research efforts of his program include: development and evaluation of new herbicides on site and in the lab/glasshouse, evaluation of organic and cultural weed control, new diagnostic and application technology, and environmental effects of weed management in turfgrass. Dr. Askew also manages the Phytochemistry and Radioactive Materials laboratory at the Glade Road Research Facility where his team conducts research on herbicide physiology and herbicide-resistant weeds.

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Jon Dickerson 

Is the 2 Year Turf Program Instructor. More on his new role coming soon!

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David McCall

is an Assistant Professor and Extension Turfgrass Pathologist at Virginia Tech, in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. His current research focuses on early stress detection using drones and field radiometry, site-specific management using GPS-guided sprayers, and other novel strategies to reduce pesticide inputs. Extension responsibilities include developing and sharing practical solutions to suppress diseases of turfgrasses grown for sod, commercial and residential lawns, and recreational facilities, such as golf courses and athletic fields.

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John Hinson

Is the primary field and greenhouse manager at the SPES Turfgrass Research Center (TRC).

John establishes field research areas, lays out plots, mixes and applies experimental treatments and collects and enters data. He also interacts and cooperates with industry/extension personnel to provide quality research and educational projects and programs. In addition to coordinating the use of facilities and equipment, he cooperates with faculty in related fields to instruct students and others in areas pertinent to agronomy (turf, crops) and soil science.

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Travis Roberstson 

Is a Research & Extension Associate with Virginia Tech based out of Richmond, Virginia.  

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Whitnee Askew

provides the program support for VT turf team extension and research efforts.  She is directly supervised by Dr. Goatley but also supports the rest of the VT turfgrass program.  She supervises establishment, maintenance and evaluation the turfgrass variety trials.   She coordinates outreach efforts including field days, website development and maintenance, and publications both electronic and paper format.  Whitnee is the primary technical support for the Turfgrass Tuesday webinars.

Whitnee earned her B.S. with a double major in Agricultural Biotechnology and Biology from the University of Kentucky.  She also earned a M.S. in Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science from Virginia Tech.  

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Xunzhong Zhang

is a Research Assistant Professor and Sr. Scientist in VT’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. He leads the turfgrass stress physiology research program at VT and conducts basic and applied research to better understanding the mechanisms of turfgrass stress tolerance and mode of action of innovative biostimulants and small organic molecules for improving turfgrass quality and physiological fitness, especially under abiotic and biotic stresses. His research area has also expanded to include stress physiology of forage and bioenergy grasses, row crops, and vegetables.

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Jeffrey Derr

is a Professor of Weed Science and is located at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HRAREC) in Virginia Beach.  He conducts research on weed control strategies in nursery crops, landscape ornamentals, and turfgrass.  He also evaluates control options for certain invasive species in noncrop areas.  He oversees the turfgrass program at the research station, working with Mr. Adam Nichols at the station, and with campus turf faculty.  Besides turfgrass weed control trials, the HRAREC conducts NTEP trials in cool and warm season turf species as well as drought tolerance trials in a rain-out shelter.  Jeffrey Derr also serves as station director for the HRAREC.

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Dan Sandor

Is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.  Dr. Sandor joined the turfgrass team in December 2019 taking on a lead role to enhance curriculum, and develop the turf teaching program, expanding the visibility of Virginia Tech’s Turfgrass Science Program. He's currently working to establish new courses and learning initiatives and develop online educational coursework in collaboration with other Virginia Tech faculty and staff.

His additional responsibilities include coordinating turfgrass internships and undergraduate research programs, as well as being the primary faculty advisor to turfgrass science undergraduate students. Sandor also will continue to foster cooperative relationships with stakeholders in developing experiential learning opportunities and is responsible for the development of an active student recruitment program.

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Alejandro Del-Pozo, Ph.D.

is an Assistant Professor of Entomology at Virginia Tech, and is based at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HRAREC) in Virginia Beach. Dr. Del-Pozo joined the turfgrass team in August 2020. He is interested in applied insect ecology and conducts research on arthropod pest management in nursery crops, landscape ornamentals and turfgrass. His research projects involve IPM, remote pest monitoring, remote sensing, use of insectary plants, use of drones to release beneficials, and alternatives to broad-spectrum insecticides.

Virginia Turfgrass Foundation Team

The team at Virginia Turfgrass Foundation helps manage the funding, function, and application of turfgrass research and development.

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Dean Whitehead, CSFM

President

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C.D. Prillaman

Board Member

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Jim Wilson

Past President

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Eric Frazier, CGCS

Vice President

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Andy Hutchins

Board Member

Brandyn Baty

Executive Director

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Steve Ruckman

Secretary/Treasurer

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Chris Andrews

Board Member

Virginia Turfgrass Foundation Advisory Board

  • Matt Austin, JCC Parks & Grounds Superintendent, Virginia Sports Turf Managers Assoc.

  • Jeff Everhart, Virginia Sod Growers Association

  • Frank Flanagan, Virginia Turfgrass Council

  • Gil Grattan, Owner of Virginia Green Lawn Care

  • Jeff Holliday, Director of Golf at Salisbury Country Club, Past President of the VGCSA 

  • Cameron Long, Williams Landscape & Design, Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association

  • Heather Sullenberger, Owner of Game Day Inc.