Dear Colleagues,

Today, I am thrilled to begin in my new role as Virginia Tech’s Vice President for Research and Innovation. I am honored and humbled to join the exceptional team who accomplished so much during the past academic year despite multiple challenges posed by COVID-19. I am grateful for the groundwork that has been laid before me and sincerely appreciate your dedication and hard work.  

Your continued efforts have resulted in much success for the enterprise. I am encouraged to see Virginia Tech researchers are winning larger awards, averaging 13 percent larger than the previous year, sponsored project awards are up 15 percent, and expenditures for FY20 were at an all-time high. There were increases in both expenditures and awards for several colleges, institutes, and centers. For example, the Ted and Karyn Hume and National Security Center and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute had record levels of awards with $18 million and $48.6 million, respectively.

As a researcher myself, I know that the year-end data does not reflect the full impact of COVID-19 research and engagement efforts. I have read many stories about how Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students came together in unity. With agility and in the spirit of Ut Prosim, Hokie researchers were able to quickly shift to work across disciplines on various projects, ranging from developing new testing methods to studying how we should conduct our lives in the post-pandemic world. These efforts have made lasting, positive impacts on the Virginia Tech community and beyond. That is what I am excited about — a resilient and robust research enterprise that is capable of transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries to fulfill our land-grant mission in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and challenge.

Moving forward, continuity and forward thinking is so important. I look forward to supporting the work the university is undertaking to grow the research enterprise in size, diversity, and impact. Virginia Tech’s research enterprise is incredibly strong and its researchers are resilient and dedicated. The combination of core strengths, service orientation, interdisciplinary instincts, and innovative spirit have a vast impact on the economy and quality of life of the entire Virginia Tech community, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the United States, and the world. Furthermore, I look forward to helping ensure that our hard work continues to drive progress in Virginia Tech’s strategic plan Advancing Beyond Boundaries and engaging with the entire Virginia Tech research community to make it a living and breathing document.   

There are several university initiatives that have seen tremendous growth over the last year that I look forward to supporting. The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative entered its first year as a statewide, collaborative network with $20 million investment from the state. We will continue to enhance the research and development around advanced cyber technology research at the intersection of data, autonomy, and security by building out existing and new research programs and bringing in more talent to further enhance the initiative’s portfolio of expertise.

We must work with our colleges, institutes, and centers to continue to find new partnerships as we grow and strengthen our reputation and visibility in health sciences. The partnership with the Children’s National hospital to build a biomedical research laboratory in Washington D.C. propels Virginia Tech’s expansion in Roanoke, grows our health sciences and technology campus, and solidifies our investment in cancer research and beyond. 

To continue our previous success in building out new programs and enhancing existing programs in support of university initiatives, we must carefully examine the resources we have to ensure they are allocated judiciously with the right infrastructure in place. Establishing shared research spaces and labs to house critical resources broadens access to them, alleviates the burden on any single research group, and enhances the ability of the research community as a whole to respond quickly to new opportunities. In research areas that are gathering momentum, like nanotechnology, shared facilities with state-of-the art resources can help make an already-active program even more competitive on the national stage.

In an effort to learn more from the research community and how we can grow Virginia Tech’s research portfolio, I invite you to join me at a future Open House session to meet with me and tour our newly renovated Burruss Hall suite. Appointments will be assigned depending on availability and on a first come, first-served basis.

Register for an Open House session.

I am looking forward to learning more about each of you and working with you to continue our collective effort to move Virginia Tech’s research enterprise from excellence to eminence as a successful engine for innovation.

In the meantime, I want to emphasize the need to stay vigilant in the way we continue our research efforts safely. We need to follow federal, state, local, and university public health guidelines and practice good hygiene both on and off campus. Your health, well-being, and safety are of the utmost importance.

Warm regards,

Daniel Sui
Vice President
The Office for Research and Innovation
Virginia Tech
Burruss Hall, Suite 340
800 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060