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Dean Sally Morton (centered)

Message from the Dean: The impact of Science

With everything going on in the world today, opportunity knocks for the Virginia Tech College of Science.

In today’s society, science is being challenged. The faculty, staff, alumni and students of the Virginia Tech College of Sci­ence see this as an opportunity dropped right at our doorstep.

We’re going to meet this challenge with the best tool we have – scientific literacy.

The College has the responsibility to do this as a built-in part of our mission. Many people don’t know that nearly every undergraduate student who completes his or her work at Virginia Tech takes at least one class in the College of Science. Being a trained statistician, I am compelled to back that claim up with a specific number: 98.4 percent of all undergraduate students take a class in the College.

Therein lies our opportunity. We need to give all students the knowledge and tools they need throughout life to look at the evidence before them, to assess information for themselves, to tap into their understanding of the scientific method, and apply the “prove it” skepticism that strong scientists bring to their work. A student who comes through our college, for instance, should be able to see a story forwarded on social media, question it, look into it, and decide whether it’s true. Questioning and challenging “facts” is critical to science, and to our democracy.

Every day, we demonstrate the value of focusing on research that can have an impact on the society we live in. In the pages that follow, you’ll see that Virginia Tech scientists are using the state, the country, and the world as our research lab­oratory – from remote parts of the Appalachian Mountains to the coast of Virgin­ia to the Southern Ocean of Antarctica.

This research demonstrates the value of students getting out from behind desks and computers, getting out of the classroom and working side-by-side with our na­tionally renowned faculty to find solutions to society’s greatest problems.

This is one way the College of Science is upholding Virginia Tech’s foundational motto, Ut Prosim. We are serving society by giving Virginia Tech students both broad knowledge of fundamental science and encouraging them to gain a deeper understanding of the career where they can make the greatest impact.

It’s no stretch to say there’s a lot of work ahead of us, and it’ll be worth the effort to meet this opportunity head on. That’s why we appreciate the on-going support of our College of Science family, as we continue to reimagine science and educa­tion in our daily lives.

Sally C. Morton

Dean, College of Science

Follow Sally on Twitter at @sallycmorton