The Virginia Tech College of Science has inducted alumna Melanie Pearson Hurley, who graduated in 1981 with bachelor’s degree in biology, into its Hall of Distinction.

Hurley brings the total number of honored alumni and friends in the Hall of Distinction to 37. In its sixth year, the Hall of Distinction honors alumni and friends of the college who are science leaders, mentors, advisors, and future employers of Virginia Tech students.

“Hurley has distinguished herself not only in her career success, but also through service to her local communities and Virginia Tech,” said Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science, at the induction ceremony. “She supports our university by giving generously of her time, talent, and other contributions to the college, the university, and more.”

Hurley, of Alexandria, Virginia, has worked as an environmental professional at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington, D.C., for the past 28 years. She currently is a project manager responsible for environmental remediation and waste management policy and programs at multiple sites across the DOE.

She began her professional career with Virginia Tech’s Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory in Manassas, Virginia, working with the late Professor Emeritus Thomas Grizzard. As an environmental professional in the 1980s, she was the first hazardous material coordinator for Fairfax County in Virginia, implementing programs such as household hazardous waste clean-up centers, which still exists today.

She has received awards from the National Association of Counties; the Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environment, Safety, and Health; and the DOE Office of Environmental Management for her innovation and expertise in environmental programs. She also has advocated for STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – education, and is a sought-after speaker. In addition to her bachelor’s degree, Hurley earned a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University in 1984.

While at Virginia Tech, Hurley was a trailblazer, being elected the first African American Military Ball Queen in 1979, was a founding member of the Black Student Alliance, and served on the Ring Committee. She has continued to be an advocate and strong supporter of Virginia Tech through recruiting, financial support, and mentorship.

She also is involved in civic and philanthropic organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., and serves as a board member of the Heart of Gold Sickle Cell Foundation of Northern Virginia, which advocates and supports person suffering from sickle cell anemia.

“Melanie is among the most inspiring examples of Virginia Tech’s tradition of scientists, innovators, caregivers, and problem-solvers, exemplifying the best of Ut Prosim,” added Morton.

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