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Graduate Student Life

When you join the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, you're a part of a community that is invested in your success and prepares you to make a difference in the professional career path you desire.

Virginia Tech biological systems engineering graduate student organization on hike

We emphasize the importance of graduate student life. You aren't only students conducting research or university employees working in a lab; you are so much more! Biological Systems Engineering graduate students are involved in daily life within the department, serving on committees, interacting with faculty and staff, and teaching undergraduates. We also have an active BSE Graduate Student Organization (GSO) and Alpha Epsilon (Honor Society for Biological and Agricultural Engineers) who promote community building, social and professional activities.

BSE Graduate Student Organization

The BSE Graduate Student Organization’s mission is to represent all graduate students in the department to the department administration, to support departmental activities, and to enhance the graduate academic experience.

Meet our Executive Board

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    Kathleen Hohweiler , bio

    BSE M.S. Student and GSO Secretary, Krometis Lab: Environmental/public health, drinking water safety, and community engagement

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    Tom Kasputis , bio

    BSE Ph.D. Student and Walts Scholar, Chen Lab: Developing novel biosensors for the detection of foodborne pathogens and emerging viruses

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    Sami Towsif Khan , bio

    BSE Ph.D. Student and GSO Treasurer, Hession Lab: Stormwater Hydrology, Green Infrastructure (GI) & Nature-based Solutions, Hydrological Modeling

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    Deisiany Ferreira Neres , bio

    BSE Ph.D. Student, Wright Lab: Synthetic biology, Protein effectors and protein engineering, Genetic resistance in plants, Signaling pathways

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    Tyler Smith , bio

    BSE M.S. Student, Hession Lab

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    Zabrina Lewis , bio

    BSE M.S. Student, Scott Lab: Water quality management

Meet our Faculty Advisor

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    W. Cully Hession, P.E. , bio

    Professor and Graduate Program Director: Ecological engineering, influence of human activities on streams, stream channel & floodplain interactions, techniques for measuring and improving in-stream habitat, and development of technologies and strategies for successful stream restoration

The BSE Graduate Student Resource Guide

Created by BSE GSO, this guide is a resource new graduate students to assist with navigating graduate school and to answer questions commonly asked by all BSE graduate students. To compile relevant information, BSE GSO surveyed current graduate students, faculty, and staff. Whether you're just starting in our department or have been here 3+ years, this information is applicable to all BSE graduate students. If you have recommendations of additional items to include or general questions, please reach out to the GSO Officers.

Alpha Epsilon

Alpha Epsilon is an invitation-only honor society representing outstanding biological and agricultural engineers.

Meet our Executive Board

Meet our Faculty Advisor

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    Leigh-Anne Krometis , bio

    Associate Professor and Turner Faculty Fellow: Public health; waterborne disease; stormwater management

Frequently Asked Questions

Enrich your experience in the our graduate programs by exploring the surrounding city of Blacksburg and taking advantage of the opportunities available to you on the Virginia Tech campus. Find ways to get involved and build your graduate community, participate in professional development opportunities, and achieve your goals, whether they're academic, personal, or professional. 

Blacksburg is located in scenic southwestern Virginia. With a population of 40,000, Blacksburg is a rural college town that offers the convenience of small-town life along with a range of cultural, artistic, and intellectual opportunities. The campus lies 2,200 feet above sea level on a plain between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. This historic area is noted for its natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Roanoke-Salem area lies 40 miles to the northeast.

Virginia Tech was founded in 1872 as a land-grant university in Blacksburg, VA. Today, with over 30,000 students (16:1 student-faculty ratio) --including over 6,000 graduate students-- and 3,000 faculty members and researchers, it is one of Virginia's largest universities.

VT is one of the leading research institutions in the nation with $450 million research in FY 2011, it ranked 42nd in university research in the United States.

The spacious campus has more than 125 buildings spread over 2,600 acres with an airport and adjacent corporate research center.

The cultural life of the community is enhanced by several excellent lecture, concert, and theater series and sports events. Excellent recreational facilities are available. The Virginia Tech Student Life web page provides information about the community of Virginia Tech and what it has to offer. A wide range of topics is covered on this page, including health services, personal and professional counseling services, campus and Blacksburg entertainment, international and multicultural programs and services, available housing in and around the Blacksburg area, transportation and parking, and student organizations that can be found at Virginia Tech.

Housing is available in dormitories on campus; more information is available through the Graduate Life Center. Apartments, usually unfurnished, are available off-campus and start at about $500 for an unfurnished studio. Assistance can be obtained from the Off-Campus Housing Office. Generally, the costs of living in the area are somewhat below the national average. Additional information about on- and off-campus housing can be found at Virginia Tech's Student Life website.

Blacksburg, Virginia is nestled in a sheltered basin between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountains. Consistently ranked among the country’s best places to live, study and work, Blacksburg is known for its reasonable cost of living, safety, moderate climate, and plentiful leisure opportunities. Here, you’ll find shops, restaurants, galleries and outdoor activities in abundance. The town enjoys a civic culture made robust by the participation of permanent residents, scholars and students, alike. Today, Blacksburg is a rising star on the national horizon; a nexus for research and industry; and a genuine “homeplace” for many thousands of residents – past and present. 

Blacksburg, long recognized for its rich history and dynamic arts scene, has been steadily transforming into Southwest Virginia’s premier arts and cultural destination. Blacksburg is a community that supports the work of our local artists and values their contribution to our creative economy.

Step into Blacksburg’s dining scene and you will find everything from gigantic slices of pizza served up at all hours of the day to funky tacos, delightful tapas, handcrafted cocktails, and fresh farm to table surprises. For the freshest local and organic produce, homemade delicacies, and flowers and plants, our Farmers Markets can’t be beat. If craft beer and wines are your true loves, check out one of Blacksburg’s welcoming breweries or tasting rooms for the best local offerings.  When you’re finished there, head out and explore more of the same throughout the beautiful New River Valley.

In Blacksburg, outdoor beauty and opportunities for adventure abound.  Take a leisurely walk or ride on the Huckleberry Trail, rent a ROAM bicycle to tour around town, mountain bike through the Jefferson National Forest, play a round of golf, hit the skate board park, or dip your toes in the New River. If outdoor recreation isn’t your thing, try boxing, dance, or yoga. Prefer to be a spectator? Catch a Virginia Tech game on campus or kick back and catch a game on television at a local pub. Step into the action!

With a wide range of scholarly and extracurricular activities, we help you prepare, connect, succeed, and stand out both during your academic career here, and beyond.