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Who we are

CAIA leadership structure graphic

The Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture (CAIA) is designed to drive innovation and advance agriculture and food systems in the era of automation and digital agriculture. CAIA develops partnerships, creates synergies, and evaluates technological efficiencies for economic growth within the Commonwealth and beyond. The Center, and its affiliate faculty and students, do this by translating research innovation into application, facilitating adoption, workforce development and training, and public awareness. As a college center, CAIA is housed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), which has the expertise to address the complex issues in the natural world and human society. As a land-grant university, founded to address the needs of the Commonwealth’s agricultural and broader population, CALS, in tandem with the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station (VAES) and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), has a diversified portfolio of basic and applied researchers actively addressing the needs of Virginia’s agricultural enterprise and communities.


Director of VAES,  Professor, SPES

Associate Director

Associate Professor, School of Animal Sciences

Image of Kang Xia
Robin White

Graduate Education and Fellowship Committee

Lead: Robin White (SAS)

Committee Members: Jake Lahne (FST), Eric Kaufman (ALCE), Arash Rashed (SPAREC), Clay Wright (BSE)

Extension & Producer Engagement Committee

Lead: Joseph Oakes (EVAREC), David McCall (SPES)

Committee Members: Abhilash Chandel (TAREC), Alejandro Del-Pozo (HAREC), Cathy Sutphin (VCE), Gabe Pent (SVAREC), Kevin Rice (AHAREC), Katheryn Parraga (VSAREC), Lee Wright (SWAREC), Leonie Jacobs (SAS), Yuan Zeng (SPAREC)

Proposal Review Committee

Lead: Kira Gannt (CALS)

Committee Members: Janet Webster (FLSI), Ryan Stewart (SPES), Donna Westfall-Rudd (ALCE)

Affiliate membership for faculty and professionals

CAIA Success is based on the convergence of faculty from different disciplines, domains and skills to inspire innovation. The CAIA Platforms benefit from teams that have interest in multiple platforms, creating integration and helping the CAIA achieve the targeted impacts for smart and secure agriculture technologies and data analytics for informed decisions and workforce training and education. 

Our goal is to assist CAIA Affiliate Faculty in building networks and teams and assisting our private and public partners in recognizing the depth and breadth of our Center for advancing innovation.

Expectations of Affiliate Faculty status

  • Develop new partnerships with other CAIA affiliate faculty
  • Contribution to building CAIA national and international reputation
  • Lead and contribute to large proposals
  • Participate in recruiting/mentoring highly competitive graduate students
  • Include CAIA affiliation on your authorship description and your CV, etc
  • Actively promote and acknowledge CAIA contributions and impact, etc

Benefits of being a CAIA affiliate member

  • Interdisciplinary partnerships
  • Access to technology testbed sites
  • Engage in innovative foundational and translational research
  • Access to recruitment and financial support for graduate students – IGEP-like program
  • Seed funding Opportunities
  • Invited speakers and symposia
  • Presentations on your research and scholarship
  • Interactions with industry
  • Support for large interdisciplinary team-based proposals
  • Engage with USDA and NSF and other agency directors and program leaders
  • Training opportunities for developing skills

Ready to join?

Faculty interested in Center affiliation should contact the Center's Director, Kang Xia to discuss expectations and benefits of affiliate status. The Center will also contribute to developing skills of early career faculty who are aligned with CAIA goals. 

CAIA Graduate Student Affiliate (GSA) group

This group provides a common space for graduate students to learn, brainstorm, and grow as students and professionals in their own research areas as related to the modern world of agriculture while networking with faculty and students across CALS. CAIA-GSA members are provided with research and development opportunities through CAIA communications and CAIA-GSA insights across departments.

Benefits of being a CAIA graduate affiliate

  • Collaboration with other graduate students and faculty across disciplines
  • Experiential learning grants
  • Travel support to attend/present at conferences
  • Opportunities to share your research with CAIA affiliate members and external audiences

Contact Us:

Our mission:

To leverage science and technology to create transformative solutions to support agriculture and food systems, the environment, and communities in the Commonwealth and beyond.

Our vision:

To foster informed decisions using agricultural technologies and analytics for growth and research opportunities.

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