Smail to leave K.S.U. for position at Ventria Bioscience Corp.

by Eric Schroeder
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MANHATTAN, KAS. — Virgil W. Smail, head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University, has accepted a position with Ventria Bioscience Corp. Ventria, which is a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., is building a bioprocessing facility for crop-based pharmaceutical products in Junction City, Kas.

Dr. Smail, whose last day at K.S.U. will be Feb. 9, has been head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry since September 2004. K.S.U. said a search is under way for an interim head to lead the department, with plans for a national search for a permanent head to begin later this spring.

Dr. Smail played a key role in securing funding for the university’s new grain science complex, of which three of the five buildings — the International Grains Program Executive Conference Center, the Bio-Processing and Industrial Value-Added Program building and the Hal Ross Flour Mill — have been completed. The other two facilities still to be built include a feed mill and a classroom building that also will house the department’s administrative offices.

"We appreciate the service and leadership Virgil has provided to the department and to the College of Agriculture," said Fred Cholick, K-State dean of the College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension. "Virgil has successfully guided the department in its quest to recruit top-notch students and faculty and in its efforts to secure funding to complete our new grain science complex."

Prior to joining the Department of Grain Science and Industry, Dr. Smail was president and chief executive officer of the American Institute of Baking, where he was responsible for expanding the overall Institute income from operations during 1994 to 2004 to $19 million from $8.4 million and assets and investments to $20 million from $16 million.

Dr. Smail helped build the largest food safety inspection program in the world when he spearheaded the campaign to spin-off A.I.B. International from the A.I.B. in January 1996.

Before joining the A.I.B., Dr. Smail was director of the U.S.D.A./A.R.S. Grain Marketing Research Laboratory in Manhattan from 1991 to 1994, where he was responsible for supervising programs in engineering, wheat quality, grain quality assessment, stored grain products, wheat genetics, accounting and building maintenance. Earlier, he was the first executive director and helped create the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute in the state of Minnesota.

Dr. Smail also has worked as a vice-president of a biotechnology company in the 1980s as well as a research scientist for the United States government.

He is a current or former member of the boards of directors of the American Bakers Association and International Cereal Chemists, among others. He is a past president of the Milling and Baking Division of the American Association of Cereal Chemists.

Dr. Smail received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Earlham College, Richmond, Ind. He received his master of science degree in agronomy and a Ph.D. in crop breeding specializing in wheat genetics, both from Montana State University, Bozeman.

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