Ann Stevens, professor of biological sciences in the Virginia Tech College of Science, has received the Graduate School’s 2017 Faculty Outstanding Mentor Award.

Sponsored by the Graduate School, the new annual award, recognizes excellence in mentoring graduate students. Students nominate recipients, and one professor from each college receives the award.

The Stevens lab works in the general field of molecular microbiology with emphasis on bacterial environmental sensing and gene regulation. Research projects focus on the phenomenon of bacterial quorum sensing, a mechanism whereby bacterial cells communicate with one another through the use of small molecules called autoinducers.  The lab currently studies the quorum sensing systems of three different bacteria. Two are vibrios: one that establishes symbiotic/beneficial relationships with animals (Vibrio fischeri) and another that is a human pathogen (Vibrio parahaemolyticus). The third is an important plant/corn pathogen (Pantoea stewartii).

Students nominating Stevens said she is known for patience, care, empathy, and high expectations. She helps students find opportunities to hone skills associated with their personal career goals and to develop excellence in their field. This includes teaching and funding opportunities students might not otherwise know about or seek. Her lab is a diverse and inclusive space, and she ensures that her students have opportunities to present their work, and to communicate it effectively, and to attend at least one conference each year.

Stevens earned her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana.