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Horticulture student selected for Virginia Tech’s summer research program

Harry Ellorin loves all things green, making the Tidewater Community College student a perfect fit for a highly competitive summer program called Securing Our Food: A Summer Undergraduate Research Experience at Virginia Tech.

The horticulture student will earn $4,500 and spend 10 weeks working to develop solutions to our food, fiber and fuel needs of the future. He will live on campus, work with faculty mentors and do hands-on research at the university.

“This is great for me, as I don’t have any research or lab experience. It’s an opportunity to be part of the Tech community and see if it’s a good fit for me,” he said.

Ellorin’s passion for food started while he was at Green Run High taking culinary classes through Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center. He continued pursuing this path on a full scholarship at Johnson & Wales University in North Carolina. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he changed course.

“I found out that I was more interested in growing organic produce and fresh herbs, than preparing meals in a commercial kitchen,” Ellorin said. “That led me to consider food stability and production.”

Ellorin came to TCC after earning a scholarship from the Virginia Society of Landscape Designers. An avid outdoorsman, Ellorin is now pursuing an Associate of Applied Science in Horticulture with plans to specialize in landscape design. He learned about the Virginia Tech programs thanks to Professor Kristina Bezanson.

“She is very encouraging and always inspires me to keep on learning,” Ellorin said. “I never would have known about this opportunity if not for my professors and the Horticulture Club.”

Much of his summer experience will be in a lab, focusing on molecular-level work to help delineate the mechanisms plants use to combat pests and pathogens. Weekly workshops will focus on important issues, including organic farming and regulation of transgenic plants.

During the later part of the fellowship, Ellorin will work at one of Virginia Tech’s Agricultural Research and Extension Centers. He hopes to participate in research on urban storm water control, a major concern for Hampton Roads.

“It’s my goal to design spaces that incorporate nature in urban settings,” he said. “I hope to inspire others to see how important plants are to our health and environment.”