As we turn the page on 2023, the Global Change Center pauses to reminisce about a year marked by profound achievements, significant milestones, and a commitment to advancing global change research and education.

In the spirit of the VT news recap, Looking back: 23* things we learned and did in 2023, we present our own condensed list of standout moments that defined our journey in the past year. These highlights only serve as a glimpse into the impact our community made in 2023 and we can’t wait to see what 2024 holds.


1. We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Interface of Global Change IGEP, and dedicated a weekend to alumni and current students, to reflect and celebrate a decade of interdisciplinary graduate education. 

2. Faculty affiliate Julia Gohlke's T32 grant propelled the Rural Environmental Health Fellowship pilot program into the Rural Environmental Health T32 Predoctoral Training program, and welcomed their first student, IGC Fellow Kathleen Hohweiler, in Fall 2023.

3. Interfaces of Global Change alumna Laura Schoenle returned to Blacksburg to deliver the keynote address at the 8th annual IGC Graduate Research Symposium, showcasing the impact of our alumni community.

4. Linsey Marr had a remarkable year, earning a spot on VT's list of 23 things we learned and did in 23. Her numerous accomplishments throughout the year included being named a 2023 MacArthur Fellow, a feature on “60 Minutes” in a segment detailing the transmission of infectious diseases via airborne particles, as well as being recognized as a University Distinguished Professor and named a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

5. The Global Change Center hosted Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, the Director of the Office of Science for the U.S. Department of Energy, for our 2023 Distinguished Public Lecture

6. From the discovery of the first 'unmistakable' Triassic-era caecilian fossil by Ben Kilgman to Amanda Darling's lead author publication in the journal Science of the Total Environment and Angie Estrada's feature in ELLAS magazine, our IGC fellows and alumni made an impact in 2023.

7. The Global Change Center’s Invasive Species Working Group was one of two interdisciplinary research teams to secure a Phase II Destination Area grant award. The Working Group will soon be launching a search for 7 new Faculty members to join our VT community!

8. Joining the ranks of those recognized for their exceptional work, Luis Escobar and Theo Lim both received NSF Early CAREER awards in 2023. Additionally, Luis Escobar was awarded a NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award

9. The graduate capstone project, “Flip the Fair”, from Interfaces of Global Change students, continues to gain traction, even earning a spot on VT's list of 23 Things We Learned and Did in 23. Now in its second year, graduate students from a variety of disciplines presented their research to be judged by elementary schoolers. The project leaders from the IGC, who initiated the first "Flip the Fair", also expanded their impact with the recent publication of a peer-reviewed manuscript that provides tips and resources to help others replicate this program.

10. Shuhai Xiao, a distinguished paleobiologist and geobiologist who serves as a professor in the Department of Geosciences, was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.  

11. The Interface of Global Change IGEP welcomed its largest and most diverse cohort in January 2023, representing eight different departments and five colleges across the Virginia Tech campus.

12. Three of the most widely read Virginia Tech Research news stories of the year featured Bill Hopkins' research on Hellbender decline, Linsey Marr's '60 Minutes' interview, and Tina Dura's research on earthquake preparedness. Faculty members also garnered attention on ORI's list of top read external news stories, with articles featuring Marr's work on CBS News and NPR, and an article highlighting Hopkins' research in The New York Times.