Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research

Diggs Teaching Scholars

Awards 1999-Present

2017

Mark V. Barrow, Jr.: Mark Barrow is Professor and Chair of the Department of History, and Affiliated Faculty Member of the ASPECT Doctoral Program and the Department of Science and Technology Studies.  Working at the intersection of the history of biology, environmental history, and American history, he is author of two award-winning books: A Passion for Birds: American Ornithology after Audubon and Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology.  Since coming to Virginia Tech in 1992, he has created and offered nine new courses, and he has received three Certificates of Teaching Excellence, two XCaliber Awards for Technology-Assisted Teaching and Learning, a CLAHS Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award, two History Graduate Association Faculty Excellence Awards, and an Alumni Teaching Award.  Developed in conjunction with colleagues in the Department of History, his Teaching Enhancement Project involves sharing his experiences organizing courses around the production of a class book, published at the end of the semester using an online print-on-demand service.  Asking students to work collaboratively to create an edited volume helps them develop a sense of professional identity, it builds vital research and writing competencies, and it creates a tangible product that survives beyond the confines of a particular class. It also offers a clearly sequenced structure for completing the work, with due dates of each step spread appropriately across the semester; it greatly enhances student engagement; it fosters the acquisition of collaboration skills; it encourages students to consider how to reach an audience beyond the instructor; and it transforms them from consumers into producers of knowledge.

Christine Labuski: Christine Labuski is an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies. Before earning her PhD in cultural anthropology, she earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in nursing, and worked as a nurse and nurse practitioner for almost 20 years. This unique background informs Dr. Labuski’s research and teaching programs, both of which focus on the medical and bodily aspects of sex, gender, and sexuality. Her courses (which include Gender and Science; Gender, Bodies & Technology; and Sexual Medicine) provide students with the opportunity to rethink their core assumptions about how sex and gender are lived. Dr. Labuski learned early that she could trust her students to meaningfully work her course material into their lives. Though she knows that this might not occur until years after they leave her classroom, she strives to always teach from this perspective. Her project, “Unmaking Assumptions: Employing ‘Universal Precautions’ In and Out of the Classroom,” reflects one way that her clinical training found its way into her classrooms. “Universal Precautions” (UP) refers to clinicians’ use of personal protective equipment (such as latex gloves) for all patients, not just those who “look like” they might harbor an infectious disease. In the classroom, UP refers to a perspective that students can adopt toward their classmates and the course material – treating everyone and every topic as if it might be present in the room. The UP perspective is designed to provide students with the capacity to discuss potentially sensitive issues frankly and in the most inclusive ways possible. By discussing topics as if the person sitting next to them might have had that experience, students can expand the contours of what categories—of people and experiences—can mean to them. By interviewing former students, her project will develop a set of UP 'best practices' in order to disseminate them to the wider VT community.

2016

Zhange (Nicole) Ni: Zhange (Nicole) Ni is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture, specializing in Religion and Literature, Critical Theory, and Religion and Culture in Modern East Asia. She is an outstanding classroom innovator, one who, in the words of the October 2014 Teacher of the Week recognition, "is committed to helping undergraduate and graduate students to engage with and explore an increasingly multicultural world both within and outside the classroom." Her first book The Pagan Writes Back: When World Religion Meets World Literature was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2015. She is currently working on her new book project tentatively entitled The Child & the Sovereign: Religion, Violence, and Transnational Youth Culture. Her Diggs project will draw from her research as well as her experience of teaching courses in the Department of Religion and Culture at all levels. She envisions an annual student conference devoted to the topic of monsters. The agenda of this conference is to explore the fiction and reality of monsters most broadly defined, for instance, monsters in diverse religious and cultural traditions, monsters of science and technology, and/or monsters we define into being and defining who we are. The "monsters" conference will consist of scholarly panel discussions, exhibition/competition of creative works, and a movie night. Students, faculty, and stuff from all over the university will be able to sit, walk, talk, and work together across a range of boundaries on this fun project of making/unmaking monsters.

Akshay Sharma: Akshay Sharma, an Associate Professor of industrial design, is passionate about using design as a catalyst for positive change. He has led multidisciplinary student teams looking at issues related to social impact. He has worked on projects related to financial literacy for micro financing that is being implemented in rural NE india and will reach 100,000 women in next four years. Another project uses cell phones for creating an information management system vaccination records to be used in developing countries; a version of this system is being used by jaipur foot for managing their patient information. He believes good design ought to translate into joy and happiness for the end user. Akshay, along with faculty in SPIA and Mechanical engineering has tested the idea of distributed collaboration where a project that starts in a community engagement studio can become the starting point for a studio in industrial design which leads into the international development studio taught by a different faculty. Here is a link to a news story about this this model of collaboration. His website, www.ID4Learning.com has documentation about the projects his students have worked on as well as the collaborative relationships he has developed. He plans to use the support to create a guide for distributed collaboration among faculty and students at Virginia Tech.

Jean Lacoste: Jean Lacoste is a Senior Instructor in the Pamplin College of Business' Department of Accounting and Information Systems. Jean has taught well over 20,000 students during her tenure at Virginia Tech, most in groups of 500 students at a time. She has worked tirelessly to remove the impersonal atmosphere of the mass lecture classroom experience. Jean's project transformed her freshman-level, information systems, mass lecture course into a hands-on business analytics course delivered in a multi-modal format. This means instructional materials are made available in a variety of formats including video lecture, live lecture and interactive software. All avenues include hands-on activities with immediate feedback. Students are free to choose the combination of resources and activities that best fit their individual learning style, schedule and other preferences. This change has resulted in a more effective and enjoyable learning experience as evidenced by student feedback and summative assessments. Jean's enjoyment in teaching the large class has increased as well because her students are more enthusiastic about the course, often exceeding course requirements. Jean's commitment to student choice has empowered her students to take charge of their own learning and has transformed the mass lecture atmosphere into one of learner-centered communities.

2015

Katrina Powell: Katrina Powell is Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Virginia Tech. She teaches courses in autobiography, research methods, and rhetorical theory, has written two books about the displacement of families from Shenandoah National Park, The Anguish of Displacement (University of Virginia Press, 2007) and Answer at Once: Letters of Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park, 1934-1938 (University of Virginia Press, 2009). Studying the hand-written letters of displaced residents to the government, Powell's research examines the ways that residents represented themselves to state and Park officials as their relocations approached. In addition to these two books, she acted as Assistant Producer for the documentary film (with filmmaker Richard Robinson) "Rothstein's First Assignment," which includes oral history interviews with descendants of displaced families. Her most recent book, Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement, was published this year at Routledge. This book expands her work on localized displacement to examine the transnational implications of displacement narratives and the ways that identity, representation, environment, and narrative are enacted across seemingly disparate displacement events such as eminent domain law, natural disaster, and civil unrest. In her "Rhetoric in Activism" and "Feminist Autobiography" courses, she asks students to develop creative projects to illustrate theories about the performative nature of autobiographical writing and the implications of composing a life story digitally. Her students also explore the various ways that writers represent identities and how life narrative might function as social activism.

Amy Nelson: Amy Nelson is Associate Professor of History and the Innovation Catalyst Group Faculty Fellow in Technology, Learning and Online Systems (TLOS). Since joining the Virginia Tech community in 1992 she has developed and taught nine new courses at the graduate and undergraduate level. She is the past recipient of the Alumni Teaching Award, the Carroll B. Shannon Excellence in Teaching Award, Two Certificates of Teaching Excellence, an Innovation Grant from CIL and the Excalibur Team Award for Teaching with Technology. Her project, Networked Learning Communities in Hybrid Courses, uses a syndicated blog as a gateway to a hybrid course in which students author original research posts on topics of their choosing, using print materials, sources available on the open web, and databases provided by the Virginia Tech Library. It uses active co-learning strategies to expand and extend the reach of the course beyond the physical confines of the classroom and the conceptual constraints of traditional writing assignments. By engaging students directly and immediately in the research process and the production of knowledge this format empowers students to "make" rather than "take" a course. Her development of networked learning environments was inspired by Gardner Campbell's New Media Seminar, which she first participated in, and then lead from 2013 to 2015. As the TLOS Faculty Fellow she works with graduate students from across the university as the instructor for Grad 5114: Contemporary Pedagogy. She has served as a co-PI on three digital history projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Nelson's current research works at the nexus of animal studies, environmental history and cultural history and focuses on the cultural implications of domestication and the significance of domestication to the history of the Eurasian plain. A specialist in Russian and Soviet culture, she is the author of an award winning study of musicians in the early Soviet period, editor of Other Animals: Beyond the Human in Russian Culture and History (2010), and is completing a collective biography of the Soviet Space Dogs. Nelson earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from UC Santa Barbara (1983), and a PhD in Russian History from the University of Michigan in 1993.

Heather Gumbert: Heather Gumbert is an Associate Professor of History, specializing in Modern Europe (especially Germany), Visual Culture, Television History, and the Cold War. She is an outstanding student advisor and mentor and serves as Faculty Principal in the Honors Residential College, and Managing Editor of the Virginia Tech Undergraduate History Review. She received the CLAHS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Student Advising, in 2013, and an XCaliber Certificate of Excellence - Honorable Mention in 2012. Her project, "Building Knowledge Across Space and Time: The World War II Timeline Project" offers an innovative experiment in collaborative, inquiry-based, student-centered learning, one that successfully leverages opportunities afforded by networked learning. This course asks students to make contributions to an online, jointly constructed timeline that explores the causes, events, and consequences of the Second World War. Heather teaches by modeling for them how historians approach both secondary sources and primary documents (such as treaties, political speeches, excerpts of literary works, film, political cartoons, and so on) and then let them explore the possibilities of interpretation and argumentation. Using open-source software, Timeline JS, students will incorporate a rich variety of sources - text, images, statistics, videos, maps, tweets, and others - into the timeline. Her inspiration for embracing teaching-centered strategies was inspired by Donald Finkel's book, Teaching with our Mouths Shut, from which she developed strategies to ask students to engage and think critically about the twentieth century.

2014

Lori Blanc: Lori Blanc is a Research Scientist in the Department of Biological Sciences. She is also the Director of the Da Vinci Living Learning Community, a First Year Experience program designed to help biological and life science freshmen successfully transition through their first year at Virginia Tech. Lori's research focuses on avian community ecology, conservation biology and endangered species management. She has over 15 years of teaching experience in topics ranging from environmental sustainability, conservation biology, and molecular genetic techniques to computer literacy, programming, and computer architecture. Since 2008, Lori has taught field-based study abroad programs in Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Antarctica. Her teaching emphasizes hands-on, interdisciplinary learning, undergraduate engagement with peer-reviewed scientific literature, writing-intensive project work, service learning, self-reflection and the use of co-curricular activities to improve curricular engagement. Lori received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Virginia Tech, and a M.S. and B.S. in Computer Science from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.

Don Orth: Donald J. Orth is the Thomas H. Jones Professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1980, Orth has taught numerous classes from the first-year experience, Ichthyology, Fisheries Management, Fish Population Dynamics, and Stream Habitat Management and has received two Certificates of Teaching Excellence, three Outstanding Faculty Awards, and the William E. Wine Award. He led the efforts to revise his college's First-year Experience Program, Invent the Sustainable Future, and has directed more than 26 undergraduate student research projects and 31 graduate student projects. His research focuses on understanding rivers and fish populations to promote sustainable management of fishery and water resources. He is a life member of the American Fisheries Society, Certified Fisheries Professional, and Fellow of the American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists and the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. Orth has received the Regional Director’s Conservation Award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Making a Difference Award from the Instream Flow Council. He received a bachelor's degree from Eastern Illinois University, a master's degree and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University.

2013

Alan Abrahams: Alan Abrahams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech. His research interests are in the areas of web mining, healthcare operations management, storage of legal documents, and entrepreneurial decision support and e-commerce systems. He also has a strong interest in entrepreneurship education and research, particularly e-commerce venture facilitation, and he is founding faculty advisor to the highly popular Online Business Guidebook, a student-authored e-commerce textbook read by over 80,000 readers. Dr. Abrahams has published papers on success factors for e-commerce start-ups, e-mail marketing tactics used by franchise corporations, the use of data mining for new product rollout planning, learning methodologies for e-commerce education, and techniques for assuring economic value from entrepreneurial IT projects. He received a PhD with a major in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Business Science degree with a major in Information Systems from the University of Cape Town.

Shelli Fowler: Shelli Fowler is the Executive Director of Graduate Development Programs & New Pedagogies in Learning Technologies, a division of the Office of Information Technology, at Virginia Tech, and associate professor of English. She also serves as an Associate Director of the Center for Innovation in Learning (CIL) in Learning Technologies, and is a Senior Fellow in the Honors Residential College. One of her primary responsibilities is to increase the awareness and wider adoption of technology-enriched active learning across all departments and colleges. She works with faculty as an instructor in FDI, as well as with graduate students in the Graduate Education Development Institute (GEDI), which she co-developed and directs. GEDI provides graduate students with a multidisciplinary setting in which to explore the integration of teaching and technology in ways that create learning environments for undergraduates to develop as active learners and innovative problem-solvers in their acquisition of domain knowledge. Shelli has been recognized nationally for her work in transforming teaching and learning, and as a leader in the field of educational technologies. She has served as an invited faculty member and co-director for the EDUCAUSE Learning Technology Leadership Institute, and has been the co-creator and leader for two EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative leadership seminars. Shelli earned her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin. Her research areas and publications focus on critical pedagogy, African American literature, diversity in higher education, and the integration of teaching, learning, and technologies.

Susan Rinehart:Susanna joined Virginia Tech’s Theatre Arts faculty in 1999. Prior to her arrival at VT, she was on the faculty of the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a resident actor at PlayMakers Repertory Company from 1989 to 1999. Susanna teaches more than 500 students every semester and has received numerous teaching awards from the VT Alumni Association, the Office of Residence Life and Student Programs, and the VT PanHellenic Council; was a finalist for the University Sporn Award in 2002 and in 2007; and has taught numerous times for the Faculty Development Institute. She received the Advancing Women Award in 2005. During her award year she served on the VT Faculty Senate and University Council, and has served as President of the Faculty Senate, chair of the Commission on Faculty Affairs, was a founding member of the Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity, a Multicultural Fellow, a CEUT Faculty Associate, and is a trained mediator. She is a two-time recipient of the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series Grant, and was awarded a SOPAC Faculty Research Grant.

2012

Anthony T. (Terry) Cobb: Terry Cobb is an associate professor in the Department of Management. He received his Ph. D. in administration from the University of California at Irvine where he specialized in organizational behavior. Cobb has taught in the areas of organizational behavior, organizational change and development, organizational skills and applications, organizational politics, organizational theory, management and total quality management at the undergraduate, MBA, and Ph. D. levels. He has won the Certificate of Teaching Excellence, the Warren L Holtzman Outstanding Educator Award (twice), the Department of Management Doctoral Teaching Award and Chi Omega Sorority's Teacher of the Year Award as well as Pamplin's Outreach Excellence Award for his pro bono work. Cobb's current research interests include the study of organizational justice perceptions, leader-member exchange, and psychological contracts. He has published in a wide range of scholarly and professional journals and has consulted with and conducted training for a wide range of organizational clients as well. He was a keynote speaker at the International Conference of Human Resource Management in Taiwan and has taught at Lincoln University in New Zealand.

Lee Cooper: Lee Cooper is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Director of the Psychological Services Center at Virginia Tech. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Lee teaches graduate students how to become evidence-based and process-oriented clinicians through practicum courses and a class in clinical assessment. He teaches from a learning enhancement model based upon principles of expertise development, deliberate practice, and continuous reflection, and regularly uses this performance model on his own teaching skills.

Marian Mollin: Marian Mollin is an Associate Professor of History at Virginia Tech. Her research explores the connections between gender, protest, transnational activism, religion and culture, with a focus on the history of American social movements. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on U.S. and women's history, with a special emphasis on classes and projects that train students in the craft of historical research. She also mentors numerous undergraduates through her role as faculty advisor to the Virginia Tech chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society, which won a Best Chapter award in 2011. She serves on the board of the Peace History Society, as the Book Review Editor for Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research, and was an active member of the committee that helped found the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech.

2011

Anthony Kwame Harrison: Anthony Kwame Harrison is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. He holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where he won their Outstanding Dissertation Award. Anthony teaches introductory level courses on African American Studies and Social Anthropology. He also teaches a senior level course on the sociology of popular music. His research explores the social construction of race and the role of music in structuring social activities and interactions. He is a trustee of the Bement School.

Tom L. Martin: Tom Martin is an associate professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, where he is the co-director of the Virginia Tech E-textiles Lab. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. His current research and teaching interests include wearable computing, electronic textiles, and interdisciplinary design teams for pervasive computing. In 2006 he was selected for the National Science Foundation's Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his research in e-textile-based wearable computing.

2010

Barbara Bekken: Barbara Bekken is a part-time non-tenure track faculty member in Geosciences who held a contract appointment with the Provost's Office from 2006-10 to direct the Earth Sustainability Integrative Liberal Education Program. She holds graduate degrees in Ore Deposits Geology and Geochemistry (PhD Stanford '90) and Metamorphic Petrology (MS U Washington '80) but has dedicated her career to studying how undergraduate students know and learn. Specifically, her academic interests have delved into evaluating how various pedagogical approaches and curricular designs promote increasingly sophisticated personal theories of learning and knowing. Working closely with an interdisciplinary team of scholars, she designed and helped teach three cohorts of first and second year students who participated in the experimental Earth Sustainability Integrative Liberal Education Program's two-year interdisciplinary and wholly integrative curriculum designed to fulfill Virginia Tech's general education requirements and AACU's Essential Learning Outcomes. Her recent research has focused on evaluating student learning outcomes from the Earth Sustainability series to discern which practices were most effective in creating sophisticated integrative thinkers with the skills and motivation to become lifelong learners.

Mary Kasarda: Mary Kasarda is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research has included work in magnetic bearing, rotor dynamics, health monitoring, and engineering education topics. She has six years of professional engineering experience, and her background is in various aspects of turbomachinery engineering. She is the 2010-11 chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Committee on Engineering Accreditation (CEA). In 2003-2004, she acted as an education consultant through Virginia Tech to Sweet Briar College to help facilitate a new engineering program at this all-women liberal arts college. She is currently working with Dr. Brenda Brand in the VT Department of Science Education on a partnership involving two VT mechanical engineering courses to support a high-school robotics course, including the FIRST robotics competition, in the local Montgomery Public School System. She is conducting research to identify components of engineering and pre-engineering programs that are successfully retaining and graduating women in an effort to replicate these components in other engineering programs.

Robert Stephens: Robert Stephens is an associate professor of History and the Principal of the Honors Residential College. His research focuses on the history of drugs and addiction, digital humanities, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. He has been a longtime proponent of undergraduate research. He has published widely on undergraduate research and founded the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review. More recently, his has begun experiential learning and research on living-learning communities and residential colleges in his role at the Honors Residential College.

2009

Ellington Graves: Ellington Graves is Assistant Director of the Center for Africana Studies and Race and Social Policy Research. He teaches in the Department of Sociology, offering courses on race and ethnicity, social inequality, the sociology of education and religion, and, on occasion, introductory sociology and sociological theory. His research interests include investigations of the role of residential segregation in racial disparities, theories of race and racism, and the dynamics of racial identity. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Mitzi R. Vernon: Mitzi R. Vernon is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture + Design. She joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1995. She holds a Master of Science in Engineering in Product Design from Stanford University and a Master of Architecture from Virginia Tech. Prior teaching experience includes the California College of Arts, the University of Southern California, and Arizona State University. She has been recipient of several patents and grants (including three from the National Science Foundation) supporting her gender-equity research in using design to teach science to children. Vernon is the 2007 recipient of the Diversity Award from the College of Architecture & Urban Studies. She is a past President of the Faculty Senate and the current Chair of the Committee on Faculty Ethics. She has extensive experience with sponsored collaborative studio projects involving computer science, engineering, physics, industrial design, and architecture topics and students. She is a recipient of the 2008 Dell ReGeneration International Design Educator Awards.

Tom Walker: Tom Walker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering Education. Tom began his career in engineering education in 1984 by direct order, not by choice. Ordered to report as an instructor of mechanical engineering at the Naval Academy, he rapidly realized he had found his niche and soon developed a reputation for integrating technology into the engineering learning space. He co-chaired the academy committee that initiated a personal computer requirement for all midshipmen - co-incidentally in the same time-frame the VT College of Engineering initiated their PC requirement. Upon leaving the navy in 1988, he accepted his current position in the Engineering Education (then the Engineering Fundamentals) department where for 21 years he has championed the use of appropriate educational technologies and pedagogies to empower student learning and respond to a changing world. Most recently he has been recognized for his innovative use and support for Tablet-convertible PCs and associated applications such as DyKnow. Tom considers it a high privilege to work with the faculty, staff, and students at Virginia Tech where he can associate with supportive and innovative personnel and experiment with the latest educational technologies.

2008

Paulo S. Polanah: Paulo S Polanah is an assistant professor of Africana studies / sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. Polanah received his bachelor's degree from the Southern Utah University, a master's degree from the University of Nevada, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Polanah's areas of research and teaching include colonial and neo-colonial studies, cultural violence and identicide, and historical relationships the West has established with other parts of the world. His courses have become very popular, often resulting in over-enrolled class sections. His courses have the reputation of being stimulating and challenging. He has consistently assembled an impressive student evaluation record. Students are expected to engage in lively classroom discussions, and Polanah challenges his students with a wide variety of teaching techniques.

Janis Terpenny: Janis Terpenny is a Professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Engineering Education and Mechanical Engineering and is an affiliate faculty in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. She collaborates with industry and community partners in research and in teaching in her roles as Director of the 5-university NSF Center for e-Design, as the Course Coordinator for senior capstone design for Mechanical Engineering with over 280 students enrolled annually, and as a member of the teaching team in Engineering Education of 900+ first-year engineering students. The focus of her Diggs Roundtable was on realism and its power for tapping into students' passion for learning. She described her experiences of how learning and engagement are improved with the use of real problems with real partners and guided attendees in a conversation of how to identify their passion and opportunities for bringing realism into the classroom. She is an Advance Professor and a Dean's Faculty Fellow in the College of Engineering. Her research in engineering design and design education has been supported by numerous grants from NSF and industry.

Yonsenia White: Yonsenia White holds the rank of associate professor in the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. Born in Colorado, Yonsenia White was raised in both North Carolina and Newport News, Virginia. She earned a BA and BFA in Studio Art from Virginia Tech in drawing and sculpture. She holds an MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts in installation art, performance art and mixed media at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. For over ten years, White has taught studio art courses in basic drawing, 2 and 3D fundamentals, found object sculpture, installation art, performance art, and professional studio practices. Her outreach and research interests have lead her to interdisciplinary projects and teaching opportunities in the Women's Studies Program, the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and the Department of Management in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. She consistently presents papers on her teaching pedagogy in national and regional art conferences and gives lectures by and about artists from marginalized and underrepresented groups whose artwork engages in personal, political and social activism.

2007

Gena Chandler: Gena Chandler is an assistant professor in the Department of English whose scholarly area is African American literature with a particular focus on post-1970 contemporary African American writers. Her current work examines the form and function of story in examining several distinct features that she has outlined as an integral part of these writers' narrative strategies. She is particularly interested in the intersection of story and discourse in expressing new epistemological and ontological understandings of black identity as a diasporic condition found in the works of contemporary black male and female writers. She is also interested in these writers' expressions of ideas about black being in their works rather than a monolithic concept of black identity.

Brian R. Murphy: Brian R. Murphy is fisheries and wildlife science professor at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources. Murphy is a graduate of the University of Detroit (B.S., '75), Purdue University (M.S., '77), and Virginia Tech (Ph.D., '81). His academic interests include natural resource education, fisheries management, reservoir ecology, and international conservation.

Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd: Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work and teaching integrates the study of politics, law, women's studies, and Black studies. Trained as a lawyer and political scientist, she is currently an Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at Virginia Tech in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, where she teaches courses on race, gender, and the law, Black women in the U.S., and feminist theory. Her current research explores the gender politics of contemporary Black nationalism, and has appeared in such journals as Frontiers, the International Journal of Africana Studies, and Meridians. She is Co-Founder, along with Rose Harris, of the Association for the Study of Black Women in Politics, and her first book, Gender, Race, and Nationalism in Contemporary Black Politics, will be published with Palgrave Macmillan.

2006

James Dubinsky: Jim Dubinsky is associate professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and is serving currently as the inaugural director of the Center for Student Engagement & Community Partnerships (CSECP), In his scholarship, professional practices, and teaching, Dubinsky epitomizes the highest ideals of university outreach. Originally hired to build the Professional Writing Program at Virginia Tech, he has worked to transform the program to include real life writing projects wherever possible. His work as the director of the program has had a far-reaching impact on Tech's outreach mission. To enact his philosophy on the value of partnerships with the community, he serves on the board of directors for the YMCA, and his classes have assisted over a dozen organizations by creating brochures, newsletters, websites, promotional material, annual reports, and grants. His leadership and innovation have been rewarded with the Service-Learning Center's Outstanding Educator Award during spring of 2000 and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Science’s Award for Outreach Excellence in 2005.

O. Hayden Griffin: Hayden Griffin, professor of engineering, joined Virginia Tech in 1985. As head of the Department of Engineering Education, Griffin has planned and led changes in the department from a primarily teaching-only, freshman engineering program to a degree-granting, research-oriented department. He has also led the development of a Graduate Certificate in Engineering Education, which is currently in place, and led the effort to create a graduate program for the department, which will be the first of the kind in the nation.

Jill Sible: Jill Sible, associate professor of biology in the College of Science, joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1998. Her research on gender equity in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has tracked a pattern of low retention among female and minority undergraduates. Sible is engaged in research funded by the National Science Foundation to test her hypothesis that the environment in which science is taught may center on a Caucasian, male-oriented culture. To curtail exclusivity in science, Sible seeks to foster a sense of inclusion and empowerment within her classroom. While her research has identified bias against - and attrition of - females during the undergraduate years at Virginia Tech, it also shows significant evidence of an improvement in women's self-confidence in the discipline due to the employment of teaching strategies similar to those used by Sible. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of New Hampshire and her doctorate from Tufts U. School of Medicine.

2005

Clare J Dannenberg: Clare J. Dannenberg specializes in language variation research and is the Director of the Linguistics Speech Lab within the English Department. Clare has taught various courses, including Language and Society, English Syntax, and Langauge and Gender, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Currently, she is working towards the implementation of the Dialect Awareness Curriculum, designed to raise consciousness about language variation and its consequences in United States Englishes for freshman English classes at Virginia Tech and for teachers and students in the Montgomery County School system. Clare additionally continues to focus her research on how identity for disenfranchised groups in the United States is continually negotiated through language use.

Peter Wallenstein: Peter Wallenstein is a professor in history department. He came to Virginia Tech in 1983, after teaching at Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Toronto, and the University of Maryland (in its overseas program, mostly in Japan and Korea). He teaches Historical Methods (he calls that class the Wallenstein Professional Development Institute) as well as a wide range of other classes, undergraduate and graduate. A specialist in the history of the U.S. South, he has authored four books and co-authored or co-edited three others. His publications have brought him three best-article awards, the Sturm Award, and the 2004 Distinguished Scholar award in history from the Virginia Social Science Association.

Karl Precoda: Karl Precoda teaches a range of courses, from first-year surveys to senior seminars, in American Studies, Appalachian Studies, Humanities and the Arts including Film and Popular Culture, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Religious Studies. His teaching awards include the Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies Commendation for Teaching Excellence, and the Residential Leadership Community Outstanding Faculty. A member of the Association for Integrative Studies and the Appalachian Studies Association, he holds degrees from the University of Virginia (PhD), Humboldt State University (MA), and UCLA (BA). He was recently profiled in Wired magazine.

2004

Robert Siegle: Robert Siegle (English) is honored today for his teaching that is global in reach, technologically savvy, and humane in nature. In a department of strong teachers, Bob sets himself apart by exhibiting both excellence in the classroom and dedication to program-wide curricular innovation. Teaching a wide range of courses, Siegle consistently receives superlative evaluations from students. Appreciation of his innovative approaches by students and colleagues led to his selection by the English Department to lead the revision of the entire composition program twice. Another example of his innovation is exemplified in his development of a course in Postcolonial Cultural Studies, which was enriched by his Fulbrights to Sri Lanka and India. This course led him to develop The Asia Connection, a multi-media website funded by Virginia Tech's Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the University Office of International Programs, the Center for Innovative Learning, and the College of Arts and Sciences. More recently, Siegle's interest in contemporary literature, film, architecture, and music led him to produce a series of new courses in Contemporary Culture. Today, Siegle will discuss the difficulties of connecting research and teaching and how the two can be synergized within environments of deliberate design in his presentation titled, Theory for Beginners.

Catherine Eckel & Sheryl Ball: Both Catherine Eckel and Sheryl Ball stand out individually in the field of Economics and have a history of collaboration with one another. Their work together led to the development of their topic of discussion today: Using Our WITS: A system for adapting research experiments for teaching economics. Designed to introduce students to the structure and conduct of research while using experiments to illustrate the process, this approach enables active learning in large class sections. While each has a distinct research agenda, they have in common the methodology of experimental economics. Their research is inherently interdisciplinary, crossing boundaries between economics and psychology, sociology, and even biology, with most of their work conducted in the Lab for the Study of Human Thought and Action, a dedicated behavioral research lab that Catherine directs.

Since joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 1983, Professor Catherine Eckel, has developed three new courses and co-created two with Sheryl Ball. She has served as Principle Investigator or Co-PI on six teaching-related grants, including two teaching/learning awards; one major CIL grant with Sheryl; two from NSF and one from the Mellon Foundation. In 2003, she was appointed one of four University Advance Professors, co-directing a $3.5 million award from NSF's Advance Program, to promote women in science and engineering.

Sheryl Ball was recruited to Virginia Tech in 1992. Since then, she has developed three courses on her own and two with Catherine. Her honors include six teaching-related grants, a grant from the National Institute of Dispute Resolution, and she is a member of a team at Virginia Tech that was awarded an NSF IGERT grant to develop a joint graduate program in engineering and business. In 2002, she received the Virginia Tech Advising Award for revamping the undergraduate advising system as Director of Undergraduate Studies, and in 2003, was awarded a College of Arts and Sciences Certificate of Teaching Excellence.

Sharon Johnson: In her six years at Virginia Tech, Sharon Johnson (Foreign Languages and Literatures), has distinguished herself as a pioneer in the pursuit of innovative pedagogical and scholarly initiatives for cross-cultural communication and education. This has gained her recognition in many ways, including a Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 2001. Perhaps most notable is her creation of the Images, Myths, and Realities Across Cultures (IMRAC) project involving students at Virginia Tech, the Sorbonne in Paris, and the Institut National des Telecommunications, one of France's top ten business and engineering schools. The project is designed to provide students with the opportunity to exchange ideas on a selection of themes and contemporary cultural issues by having them analyze and discuss images and texts pertaining to France and the United States through web-based chats, email, and simultaneous, live video-conferencing. It is this project that is the topic of her discussion today titled, The Pleasures and Paradoxes of Cross-cultural Pedagogy: How Linguistic and Cultural Discord Engenders Cross Cultural Understanding. Building on the goals of IMRAC, Sharon worked to transform the curriculum, and was co-writer and one of three principal investigators for a $390,000 US Department of Education Title VI grant. Out of this, three new courses have been approved, five Virginia Tech courses have been modified, and three new study abroad opportunities have been approved, as well as internship possibilities in French companies. Two new French for Business minors and a French for Business Certificate have been approved, and a Concentration in French for Business has been implemented. These successful collaborations across two colleges were recognized with the University Exemplary Department Award in Fall 2003. Additionally, Sharon has helped to revitalize the French curriculum at Virginia Tech by creating one course, co-developing three courses, and redesigning another.

2003

Andy Becker: Andy Becker teaches multiple levels of Latin, Greek and Classic courses, including one he has developed for the European Studies Program in Riva San Vitale on ancient and modern poetry, and a distance learning Latin literature course. He also frequently lectures for GTA seminars and the Critical Methods course for the Area studies Masters Program. Becker is actively involved in outreach to high schools and has been a teacher and director of the prestigious Governors' Latin Academy for many years. He often speaks and leads workshops at the Mountain Valley Latin Teachers' Association, the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, and the Classical Association of Virginia.

Elisabeth Bloomer: Elisabeth Bloomer teaches first-year writing and higher-level creative writing in the English Department. She is a long-time GTA advisor and currently directs the GTA Advising program, thereby also inspiring the department's newest teachers. Bloomer's dedication to students and to the English department is illustrated in many ways, including her tutoring of upcoming freshmen in the Upward Bound program and service to the Department's Undergraduate Committee while it was redesigning the undergraduate curriculum. She was a pioneer in the department's first forays into on-line teaching and has continued to develop on-line tools for the Creative Writing and First-Year Writing courses.

Tonya Smith-Jackson: Tonya Smith-Jackson teaches a variety of courses at all levels in Industrial and Systems Engineering, with an emphasis on Human Factors. She has been instrumental in diversifying the ISE curriculum, and received two Student Success Grants to help students understand how diversity applies to engineering problems, as well as a CEUT Teaching Learning Grant to study cultural ergonomics, which involved travel to the University of Ghana-Legon to observe safety and culture among workers in West Africa.

2002

Megan Boler: Megan Boler, Associate Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning. Megan is honored today for being a passionate and inspiring educator and for her service to the academic community. Her fields of interest include education, philosophy, women's studies and cultural studies, in which she is widely published. Among her many projects since joining the faculty in 1998, is the creation of a Diversity Resources Center that K-12 teachers can use to develop curriculum inclusive of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.

Bill Snizek:Bill Snizek, Alumni Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology. Bill is honored today as an outstanding teacher of sociology and an important contributor to the teaching culture at Virginia Tech. In his 30th year at Tech, Bill places the needs of his students first, as he continues to experiment with and employ innovative practices in his classes. He is especially recognized for developing numerous methods to enhance learning in the large lecture class, including the "Sociological I.Q. Test," used to help students recognize cultural stereotypes and become more open-minded.

John Seiler: John Seiler, Professor, Department of Forestry. John is honored today as an innovator in the development of multimedia computer software and distance education technologies, and for his efforts to improve forestry education beyond Tech's campus. His novel approach to the field of forestry led to his creation of the multimedia electronic textbook, Forest Biology, and multimedia plant identification program, Woody Plants of North America, which has been shown to significantly improve student performance in the identification of forest plants.

2001

Stacey Floyd-Thomas: Stacey Floyd-Thomas joined the faculty of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in 1997. Since then, she has been appointed coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Interdisciplinary Task Force. She has transformed a number of courses and helped to put in place new degree options in Leadership and Social Change, Global Studies, and Creative Processes. She has received CEUT summer faculty and globalizing initiatives grants and an ASPIRES grant, under which she has collaborated to establish an Interdisciplinary Study Abroad opportunity at the University of Cheik Anta Diop in Senegal. Nominator Laura Gillman says that Dr. Floyd-Thomas's teaching "generates dreams and possibilities in the souls of her students." Teaching courses in Religious Studies, Black Studies, Women's Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies, she finds ethics and social justice to be points of cohesion in all of her courses. In addition to a wide variety of written texts, she uses service learning, internships, and field study as opportunities for students to implement their theoretical knowledge in more active contexts.

Richard Goff: Richard Goff, who typically teaches three or four sections per semester and advises 150 to 200 students, has created a revolutionary change in the freshman engineering program . According to Engineering Fundamentals Director Hayden Griffin, "Richard pioneered the work with Lego Mindstorms for allowing students to design, create, and test robotic cars. The finale of the experience was a competition in which the students' creations competed against each other to negotiate a maze and find a target on the floor. Photos of the students clearly show their interest and excitement with this effort." Dr. Goff has also collaborated with Professor Mitzi Vernon of the Industrial Design Program in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in creating mixed groups of students from the two colleges which design and build robotic creations. As Goff says, "The top students will learn no matter what the teacher does. But many creative students drop out of engineering every year because they do not experience connections between theoretical learning and the practical application of knowledge." Dr. Goff is the recipient of three Certificates of Teaching Excellence and the Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching of Engineering Subjects. He is the Director of the Frith Freshman Engineering Design Laboratory. Working with colleagues, he has received a CEUT Summer Faculty Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Design as well as three SUCCEED grants for Hands-On Laboratory, Early Design, and Curriculum Renewal. An anonymous student comments, "Goff is the kind of teacher that you look up to and respect, because he respects his students. ...Always very approachable, friendly, and peaceful. Has some really cool experiences to share as well."

Monte Boisen: Monte Boisen, who has taught mathematics at Virginia Tech for 31 years, has received four Certificates of Teaching Excellence, the Wine Award, the Arts and Sciences Diversity Award, and the Xcaliber Award, among many others. As Mathematics Departmental Coordinator for Minority Recruitment and Affairs, he founded the Association of African-American Mathematicians at Virginia Tech, which engages in a variety of efforts to recruit and retain minority students. He has taken a leadership role in transforming the Math Emporium so that, in the words of his colleague Bud Brown, "it places the student in the centernot the machines, not the material." Dr. Boisen says, "Our ability to support the success of students is greatly dependent on the degree to which we value their individual diferences. If all we mean by wanting diversity on this campus is for there to be a lot of isolated people with diverse backgrounds, then we have achieved diversity on paper, but we will never really mature as a University. If, on the other hand, we learn to value the ways people are different--to incorporate their dreams, their talents, and their goals into the fabric of the University-- then we have an opportunity to make this an exciting place, a place where all students and faculty have an opportunity to grow." As one former student says, "I continue to recommend Dr. Boisen without any reservation. He is truly a marvel among college professors."

2000

Beveryly Bunch-Lyons: Beverly Bunch-Lyons joined the History Department in 1995, after receiving her doctorate at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. History Department Chair Albert Moyer suggests that since coming to Virginia Tech, Bunch-Lyons has "expanded her legacy of excellence in the classroom" and has introduced "pertinent and engaging classroom projects into large survey classes where lectures are the norm." Indeed, the Diggs selection committee was impressed and fascinated by her nine touchstones for good teaching and the detailed planning and understanding that goes into her projects. Colleagues and students at Virginia Tech and other Universities describe her as "talented and dedicated," showing a very high level of expertise and creativity in the classroom.

Professor Bunch-Lyons' skillfully conceived and executed projects include a study of the Great Depression, in which students actually shop for groceries on a depression-era budget and prepare food from a menu of depression-era recipes. Others involve the use of scavenger hunts in the library, novels to teach African-American Women's History, oral history, and service learning. Her methods focus on active learning that teaches students to use and understand primary materials and comprehensive research. Bunch-Lyons embodies the Teacher-Scholar whose understanding of her subject is fully integrated in the classroom and whose teaching is fully integrated with her research and a model of best practice. For the Fall Roundtable, Bunch-Lyons will discuss her active learning exercises and cooperative learning.

Jimmy Martin: Jimmy Martin joined the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty in 1991, and since then has distinguished himself with a number of awards, including recognition as a National Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, and selection as Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia. Dr. James Duncan, University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, writes, "In my 30 years as a Civil Engineering faculty member, I have never known a faculty member who was more effective in communicating with undergraduate students." Nominating Professor W.R. Knocke describes Martin as "the best that we can hope for in our faculty when considering our mission as educators." Many praise Martin for his commitment to technological innovation in teaching with the application of cognitive learning theory to computer based multi-media packages for classroom instruction. He conducts successful recruitment programs, particularly with minority students.

His work in the classroom and in research focuses on "real world" projects. The Diggs selection committee was impressed with examples of such work in the area of earthquake engineering. A close correlation among Martin's teaching, professional research and service combine with compassionate and informed understanding of student learning and what some described as a rare grace and humility. For the Fall Roundtable, Martin will focus on the use of new teaching/learning methods (including technological advances) for delivering engineering courses to undergraduate students.

Katherine Allen: Katherine Allen of Human Development "treats teaching and learning as a living laboratory," according to nominator Dr. Michael J. Sporakowski. "She provides examples of informed reflexive consciousness in teaching and scholarship toward the creation of a more inclusive, balanced, and invigorated family studies, using examples from her teaching at Virginia Tech and her life experience and research on family diversity." Allen supervises graduate students who teach large undergraduate courses in Human Development, and has organized teaching symposia for these GTA's to "spotlight" their skills in teaching around multicultural, controversial, and sensitive subjects in family studies and human development.

Professor Allen's interdisciplinary work includes collaborations with the Women's Studies Program in CIS and the Center for Gerontology; currently she team teaches a course for Interdisciplinary Studies with Professors Stacey-Floyd Thomas and Laura Gorfkle. Her many awards include selection as a Fellow by the National Council of Family Relationships, the Ernest Osborne Award for Excellence in Teaching from the National Council on Family Relations, an Excellence in Instruction Award from the Department of Family and Child Development at Virginia Tech, a University Wine Award, and a Certificate of Teaching Excellence in the College of Human Resources. Students consistently describe her teaching as "the best" and even "awesome!" Her colleagues find her a compassionate and learned mentor with seemingly boundless energy for self-questioning, boundary challenging, and professional achievement. Her Diggs interview energized and inspired the group as she argued convincingly against burnout and cynicism, and for continuous high level achievement and great pleasure in teaching. For the Fall Roundtable, Allen will discuss ideas about diversity and offer strategies that are relevant for students' and teachers' experiences.

1999

Ron Kander: Ron Kander, of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, College of Engineering, is recognized for his outstanding teaching, curriculum development, and learning environment enhancement activities in the department, college, university and surrounding community. He is Director of the College of Engineering's "Green Engineering" Program, a University concentration for engineering students, focusing on the environmental aspects of a student's particular engineering discipline. He has initiated the Science on Wheels program, which brings science and engineering experiments into 5th grade classrooms of nearby school districts in order to stimulate student interests in science. He is a demanding and enthusiastic teacher, whose classes are a blend of participatory active learning exercises, traditional classroom instruction, and electronic multimedia lecture delivery formats. He always has the students' best interests in mind every day, and he is an inspiration to the younger faculty in his department. For the fall Roundtable, his discussion is entitled "Creativity and Problem Solving."

Mark Schneider: Mark Schneider, of the Foundation Studies Program in the Department of Architecture, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, is recognized for his outstanding contributions to the education of beginning Architecture students. He has transformed the two — semester History of Architecture course into a class which integrates the study of architectural history into the intellectual development of his students. He has developed a true insight into the needs of students who are at the beginning of their studies, and has created an environment in which students truly want to learn. In a class of 200 students, he reads student essays four times a semester, has initiated weekly small — group discussion sessions after lectures, and directs semester — long research projects. As one student remarked, "Dr. Schneider is truly an example of what a scholar is and ought to be." His fall Roundtable discussion will be on "Developing Educational Models for Beginning University Students."

Brenda S. J. Winkel: Brenda S. J. Winkel, of the Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences, is recognized for her exceptional success in blending research and teaching, especially in molecular biology. She has revamped the curriculum in that discipline and has been a leader in the mentoring of undergraduate students doing research. In addition, she has mentored a number of students in the University Honors Program, including Anna Leung, one of the 1999 Goldwater Scholars. These mentoring activities are all the more noteworthy in view of the fact that her only reward is the joy of seeing a student get excited about a research project. In the classroom, she creates a friendly and scholarly environment in which the students are encouraged to take an active role in learning. Her achievements, enthusiasm and cooperative spirit set a high standard for faculty and student alike. As a role model for young women scientists, she is invaluable. Her Roundtable topic is "Science as a Dynamic, Participatory Discipline: the Relationship between Teaching and Research."

1998
  • Carol Burch-Brown, Architecture/Art/CIS/Women's Studies
  • William Greenberg, Mathematics
  • Linda Plaut, CIS-Humanities
1997
  • Ezra Brown, Mathematics
  • Gary Downey, CIS-Science and Technology Studies
  • Terry Papillon, Classics/Foreign Languages and Literatures
1996
  • Barbara Carlisle, CIS-Theatre Arts
  • Jim McKenna, Crops, Soils and Environmental Science
  • Nancy Metz, English
1995
  • Elizabeth Bounds, Religion
  • Arthur Buikema, Biology
  • Terry Wildman, Education--Teaching and Learning
1994
  • Tom Gardner, English
  • Siegfried Holzer, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Ann Kilkelly, Theater Arts
1993
  • Grace Bauer, English/Women's Studies
  • Greg Justice, Theatre Arts
  • Larry Nielsen, Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
1992
  • Jacqueline Bixler, Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • Ellen Brown, English
  • Jim Knight, Animal Science