After serving for nine months as interim head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Food Science and Technology, Renee Boyer has been named department head by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She formally assumed her new role on April 10.

Boyer’s appointment comes at the end of a thorough selection process, during which she received strong support from food science faculty and staff, both for her longstanding connection to the department and for her performance and vision during her time as its interim leader. 

Boyer has been with the food science faculty as professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist since earning her doctoral degree from the department in 2006, during which time she has led a variety of Extension initiatives to bolster food safety awareness among food producers and consumers, published countless research publications on foodborne illness prevention, and mentored numerous food science students through their graduate educations. 

“This department has been my home and work family since becoming a student in 2000,” Boyer said. “I am eager to build on the growth and trajectory that Joe Marcy provided to us by building our national recognition as a leader in food science education as well as continuing to expand the depth and scope of our expertise to service and solve problems for the food industry in Virginia and beyond."

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Throughout her time at Virginia Tech, Boyer has been involved in funded, collaborative projects totaling over $38 million, with over $2 million going to her research and extension program to fund research on the prevention of food contamination by foodborne pathogens and the safety of food preparation techniques used by industry food handlers and consumers. Boyer has developed outreach programs aimed at enhancing the safety of local foods and at helping consumers learn to preserve their own foods at home. Her many recognitions include the Gamma Sigma Delta Extension Award of Merit, the Andy Swiger Land Grant Award and the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension. Additionally, she has held numerous leadership positions within the International Association for Food Protection.

Boyer stepped in to lead the department last August after Joseph Marcy, who spent 12 years at the department’s helm, announced he would be leaving the position. For the foreseeable future, Marcy will continue to teach Food Packaging, a graduate course he’s instructed for many years. Marcy’s resignation comes at the end of a long and storied career, having over four decades of food industry experience and having overseen the largest period of growth in the department’s history.

“It’s been truly wonderful to see one of our students become head of the department,” Marcy said. “As both an alumna and a faculty member of over a decade, Renee knows FST, and she has never hesitated to step into leadership roles when needed. There’s no one better qualified to lead us into Food Science’s next phase.”

Boyer received both her doctoral and master’s degrees in food science and technology from Virginia Tech in 2006 and 2002, respectively. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Radford University in 1999.

—Written by Alex Hood

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