Dennis R. Dean of Blacksburg, professor and director of the Fralin Biotechnology Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, was appointed the J.B. Stroobants Professor of Biotechnology by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors during the board's quarterly meeting Nov 12.

The J.B. Stroobants Professorship in Biotechnology was established in 1986 by a gift from Alphonese and Maria Stroobants of Bedford County, Va., in memory of his father. The professorship supports a researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who is advancing knowledge and discoveries in biotechnology.

Dean’s research is focused on biological nitrogen fixation as well as on the cellular metabolism of iron and sulfur. His research has laid the groundwork for further progress in understanding protein interactions and their contribution to bodily functions, and helped advance the exploration of protein function using microbial genetics.

Dean, who is internationally known, has published more than 130 peer reviewed articles on these topics and has received funding to support his research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and Office of Naval Research. Dean also received the Excellence in Research Award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for his achievements in basic research.

As director of the Fralin Biotechnology Center and interim director of the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences, Dean provides leadership for biotechnology-related research, education, and outreach. The center and the institute encourages interdisciplinary research among faculty from many departments across campus. Research efforts at Fralin include vector-borne and infectious diseases, structural microbiology, nitrogen fixation, desiccation tolerance and mammalian cell stabilization.

Dean received his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College and a Ph.D. from Purdue University, and he was a NIH postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 2,400 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.

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