Department head’s message: Greetings from Blacksburg! Once again it is our pleasure to present the annual edition of the Via Report. I hope you enjoy the excellent articles on several of the outstanding research efforts that are in progress within the department. The work highlighted in these articles supports students in the department and serves society in general, particularly in the Commonwealth, as many of the issues that our faculty are researching are highly important in Virginia. Rest assured that these are but a few of the many great things in progress!