Extension specialist Robert 'Bob' Lane; construction of new facility; rendering of new facility

Extension specialist Bob Lane; construction progress of new facility
Extension specialist Robert 'Bob' Lane; construction of new facility; rendering of new facility

The following article is an excerpt from the 2021 BSE Newsletter.

Robert 'Bob' Lane is an Extension Specialist and Seafood Engineer located at Virginia Tech's Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC) in Hampton, Virginia. As an AP faculty member, Lane has an Extension and Research appointment through Virginia Cooperative Extension with a home department in Biological Systems Engineering. His program focuses on how seafood moves safely from the ocean to a consumer's plate.

Typically, Lane works in-person with companies in the seafood and aquaculture industries to address food safety, processing, packaging and training through small grants and cost recovery but, during COVID-19, Lane's program switched gears to include solar applications. Lane supported John lgnosh, an advanced specialist in agricultural byproduct utilization in our department and received a $1,168 part of a DMME Solar Grant. Lane supported Dr. Ronald Meyers, an associate professor of practice for the Department of Wildlife and Conservation, and received $3,000 from seed grant. Both grants are aimed at determining how farmers can use solar energy as an income stream.

During COVID-19, Lane's responsibilities included supporting companies transitioning within the seafood industry from a wholesale market to a retail market as well as sending information to these companies about registering for available local, state and federal business loans. This information included $25 million in USDA funds offered to this seafood industry.

The AREC has grown so much over the course of the years! The AREC's program started by mainly performing local and regional outreach and is now competing in international outreach. Due to this growth, the AREC is moving into a new building that’s currently under construction with plans to be finished by November 2021. "This new building allows us to grow,” Lane said. "It will allow us to increase our cutting edge work in food safety and security, sustainable food production systems, fisheries and aquaculture, biological and economic research and applied research and outreach to support the aquaculture and seafood industries. The growth keeps our team goal of supporting the industries to continue to be economically viable.”

With the new building, Lane and team plan to offer more food safety and HACCP trainings, complete more cutting-edge biome research and research development, hire graduate students to do further research and economic applications, take in more international students, and to collaborate with other departments and agencies on- and off-campus in a more meaningful and impactful way.

Read this article and more in the 2021 BSE Newsletter.