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Catherine Freed

Industry Leader Spotlight

Catherine Freed

Plant Biology; Molecular Biology; Biochemistry

As a postdoctoral associate in the department of biochemistry, my research focuses on the enhancement of food security by developing crops which mitigate phosphate fertilizer pollution and increasing the efficiency of phosphate use and uptake in agricultural applications.

Upon starting graduate school at Virginia Tech in 2017, I was fascinated by the potential impact of genetically modified plants on national as well as global food security. In 2021, I was awarded a Proof-of-Concept grant with the goal of spinning a startup out of my research at Virginia Tech. I intend to leverage a portfolio of four patent applications to create products for sustainability-conscious homeowners and farmers.

Something that excites me in my field…
Is the fact that the possibilities that plants have for improving the world are limited only by our imaginations.

I first discovered a passion for this work…
When I was in 10th grade and learned about GMOs. While many in my class were scared by the prospect, I found the idea that scientists can genetically modify plants to be limitless and exciting.

Best part of working at Virginia Tech…
My friends and colleagues. Also the view of the mountains from the lab window is also beautiful!

I see the future in my field…
In genetically manipulating inositol pyrophosphates to enhance how crops accumulate Phosphorus.

My work impacts society…
By addressing the impending phosphorus crisis.

Groups or organizations I am involved in…
I am currently an ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biologists and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. I am also involved in the biochemistry department, Translational Plant Sciences program, and the APEX center for entrepreneurs at Virginia Tech.

Words of encouragement to an aspiring inventor...
Don’t give up on your ideas and inventions, even if they’re heavily criticized. At first, not everyone will understand your vision or creativity and that’s okay! Protect your ideas and don’t stop building.

In my free time...
I paint and create artwork, specifically botanical illustration. I also enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors.

Media Contact:

Lindsey Haugh

(540) 231-6959

Additional Highlights

Catherine Freed    |    Postdoctoral Associate

Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Science

Catherine Freed's LinkedIn Page



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