The Hops and Harvest Festival is the premier craft beer festival in central Virginia, and dozens of visitors took the time to look over the variety of posters detailing how common plant pathogens may be affecting the ability to grow a strong commercial hops crop in Virginia. This presentation is an outstanding example of how student research at Hampden-Sydney can have real world applications that can benefit the general public.
Over the past couple of years, several students in the Hampden-Sydney biology classroom and laboratory have explored the microbes that coexist on hops plants and how those microbes may help or harm commercial hops yields. The project has been integrated as an authentic research experience in the Biology Department’s Introductory Biology course and has served as the inspiration for several independent student projects that have taken place both during the academic year and over the summer. One of the most dedicated students to this project has been Michael Willis ’17, who is looking towards a career in the brewing industry after graduation. Michael recently took a selection of research posters detailing the work done by Hampden-Sydney students on plant/microbe interactions involving hops and presented them at the Hops and Harvest Festival at Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield, VA.