Ann Stevens, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science received the university's 2009 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among those faculty members who have received certificates of teaching excellence from their respective colleges in the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Stevens won outstanding teaching awards from the Department of Biological Sciences in 2002, 2003, and 2007. She led efforts to revise the curriculum for undergraduate biological sciences majors in the microbiology/immunology option.

Stevens has mentored 24 undergraduates involved in research, eight serving as teaching assistants, and has been either the advisor or co-advisor to 10 master’s students, seven Ph.D. candidates, and one postdoctoral assistant.

“Dr. Stevens stands out as one of our best teachers, consistently excelling in several dimensions of the teaching mission,” says Ignacio Moore, assistant professor of biological sciences, who chairs the department’s faculty recognition committee.

Moore says Stevens has maintained a heavier-than-normal teaching load even as she has attracted significant research funding and published numerous peer reviewed papers.

“She is a dedicated and talented individual who is not only an excellent teacher and researcher, but also an advocate for women and minorities in the sciences,” Moore adds.

Stevens says the core of her teaching philosophy is to accomplish three things: to create a welcoming and comfortable learning environment, to foster integrative learning, and to encourage cooperative and active learning processes.

“It is absolutely necessary to establish mutual respect in the classroom or the laboratory,” she says.

Bryndan Durham studied with Stevens as an undergraduate before enrolling in the graduate program at the University of Georgia.

“I will soon begin teaching, and I plan to model my teaching philosophy based on hers,” he says. “I feel that Dr. Stevens has very high expectations, and she provides the necessary tools for students to reach these expectations. She teaches a difficult subject that is highly focused, and at the same time she illustrates the broad impacts of microbiology. She presents information in such a way that [it] inspires students to learn and get excited about the material.”

David Popham, professor of microbiology, says Stevens “has provided the Department of Biological Sciences and Virginia Tech with exceptional and innovative teaching. Her teaching activities can serve as an example for all Virginia Tech faculty.”

Stevens joined Virginia Tech’s faculty in 1997. Her scholarly interests include microbiology, bacterial cell-cell communication, and environmental sensing and response. She received her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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