MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Virgil Smail, head of the department of grain science and industry at Kansas State University, has accepted a position with Ventria Bioscience Corp. His last day at K-State will be Feb. 9.

"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."

Three of the five buildings in the new complex -- 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. Still to be built are a feed mill and a classroom building that will also house the department's administrative offices.

Smail's prior industry experience greatly expanded and enhanced the department's relationship with the milling, baking and feed industries, Cholick said.

Smail has been with K-State since 2004. He worked previously as the director of the USDA's Grain Marketing and Production Research Center and as president of the American Institute of Baking.

A search is under way for an interim head to lead the department, Cholick said. A national search will begin this spring for the permanent head position.

Ventria, which is based in Sacramento, Calif., is building a bioprocessing facility for crop-based pharmaceutical products in Junction City, Kan.

SOURCE: K-State Research and Extension news release.