U.Va. Names New Director of Blandy Experimental Farm

January 24, 2007

Jan. 24 -- The University of Virginia has named Manuel T. Lerdau Director of Blandy Experimental Farm and the State Arboretum of Virginia, and Professor in the UVa. Department of Environmental Sciences.

Lerdau, 43, becomes only the sixth director in Blandy's 80-year history.

Lerdau brings to this position the credentials of a top-level research scientist, having published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and he also offers experience in public outreach that promises to enhance Blandy's image through talks to community groups and other environmental organizations and by bringing more visitors to Blandy.

Lerdau comes to Blandy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where he was a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution with a courtesy appointment in Atmospheric Sciences. He completed his A.B. in biology at Harvard in 1987 and Ph.D. in biology at Stanford in 1994 and joined the faculty at Stony Brook that year.

Lerdau maintains an office and research facilities at Blandy and on Grounds in Charlottesville.  His research currently examines how invasive plants and air pollution affect ecosystems.  He will continue this work at Blandy as he seeks to develop Blandy as a center for environmental science, education and outreach.

"Blandy is one of those rare places where staff, volunteers and university faculty have come together to build an institution dedicated to advancing our understanding of nature," Lerdau said. "I have always loved learning about the natural world and sharing this knowledge with others.  I can't imagine studying nature without teaching. Blandy is poised to lead in the environmental sciences as the University of Virginia expands its education, research, and outreach activities"

Lerdau follows former Director Michael Bowers, who left Blandy in 2004 after nearly 20 years to accept a position with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

Lerdau and his wife, Bonnie Gordon, have three children, twins Rebecca and Jonathan, 4, and a newborn son, Eli, who arrived in November.  Gordon is an assistant professor in the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia.

The State Arboretum of Virginia is part of Blandy Experimental Farm, a research field station for the University of Virginia. Blandy is on Route 50 in Clarke County, about 9 miles east of Winchester and approximately 20 miles west of Middleburg, between Route 340 and the Shenandoah River. For more information call (540) 837-1758, or visit Blandy online at http://www.virginia.edu/blandy.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Dr. Lerdau may be reached at (540) 837-1758 Ext. 239 or by e-mail at mlerdau@virginia.edu.