Jacob Barney

Associate Professor

Program Focus

My research interests are focused on identifying and evaluating the factors that interact along the invasion pathway that begins as a benign introduction and results in a widespread harmful invasion. By parsing this complex process into the contributing factors of 1) species characteristics, 2) receiving habitat dynamics, 3) source environment conditions, 4) propagule pressure, and 5) time since introduction, we are better able to understand existing invasions by empirically evaluating the components singly or in interaction.

We work in a variety of natural and managed ecosystems across the Southeastern US, and have projects on both emerging and longstanding invaders. We are interested in propagule biology and dispersal, population dynamics, allelopathy, ecological impact quantification, risk assessment, and simulation modeling.

Current Projects

  • Spatial risk assessment of bioenergy crops
  • Ecological impact of invasive plant species in natural systems
  • Interaction of propagule pressure, species traits, and receiving habitat characters determining invasion success
  • Invasion potential characterization of perennial grasses introduced as bioenergy crops


Ph.D., Invasive Plant Ecology, Cornell University, 2007

M.S., Weed Science, Cornell University, 2003

B.S., Chemistry, University of Kentucky, 2000


  • August 2010 – present – Assistant Professor of Invasive Plant Ecology

Selected Major Awards

  • 2015 - Outstanding Researcher Award, Northeastern Weed Science Society
  • 2008 – Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Weed Science Society of America
  • 2008 – Robert D Sweet Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Northeastern Weed Science Society

Courses Taught

  • PPWS 4604 – Biological Invasions
  • PPWS 5604G – Advanced Biological Invasions

Other Teaching and Advising

I “co-coach” Virginia Tech’s Weed Team. The Team gives students experience in identifying weeds at all life stages, calibrating various herbicide application technologies, identifying herbicides based on crop and weed symptomology, and role play experience as an extension agent solving problems. The team has won several regional contests: First place at the Southern Collegiate Weed Contest in 2012, and the Northeastern Collegiate Weed Contest in 2012.