As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, 12 alumni were inducted into the inaugural class of the College of Science Hall of Distinction. 

The honor is given to those people who embody the college goals of enhancing the well-being and development of their community, the commonwealth, the nation, or the world, and who exemplify Virginia Tech’s motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

“Alumni of the College of Science, and the College of Arts and Sciences before that, have had a tremendous impact on our world,” said Dean Lay Nam Chang. “The Hall of Distinction is one way we can honor an exceptional group whose talent, dedication, enthusiasm, and success have set a standard of excellence for our current students.”

The 2013 Hall of Distinction recipients are

  • Mary Nolen Blackwood of Midlothian, Va., psychology, Class of 1973; 
  • Patricia Caldwell of New York, mathematics, Class of 1971;
  • Jean Gibbons Fielden of Vero Beach, Fla., statistics, Class of 1962; 
  • David Henderson of Spicewood, Texas, geophysics, Class of 1973; 
  • Theresa Koehler of Houston, biological sciences, Class of 1981; 
  • William Lewis Jr. of Washington, D.C., physics, Class of 1963; 
  • A. Clifton Lilly Jr. (posthumously), geological sciences, Class of 1956, and physics, Class of 1989;
  • Kimbley Muller of Houston, general science, Class of 1969; 
  • G. Robert Quisenberry of Richmond, Va., statistics, Class of 1963; 
  • Robert Richardson (posthumously), physics, Class of 1958 and 1960; 
  • William Starnes Jr. of Williamsburg, Va., chemistry, Class of 1955; and 
  • John Thompson of Alexandria, Va., mathematics, Class of 1973 and 1975.

Mary Nolen Blackwood

Blackwood established, with her husband, Blackwood Development Company, a commercial real estate firm.

An ardent supporter of Virginia Tech, she serves on the board of the Virginia Tech Foundation as a member of the development committee. She was a founding member of the Dean’s Roundtable advisory board and its first female chair and she is an advocate for women at the university serving as a lifetime member of the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Council. 

She chaired the College of Science Committee for the Campaign for Virginia Tech and she is involved with civic and philanthropic organizations including the Chesterfield and Colonial Heights Christmas Mother program, the Bonita Bay Fundraising Committee for Lee Memorial Hospital, and Virginia Tech Alumni for Higher Education.

Patricia Caldwell

Caldwell was a founding member of Gordian Group LLC, providing financial advisory services in distressed and complicated situations. She has also worked for Citibank where she founded the Corporate Finance and Analysis Department. 

A fourth-generation Hokie, Caldwell’s great grandfather, Daniel Franklin Hale, was a member of the first class of Virginia Tech and she has maintained a strong commitment to the university, serving on the college’s Roundtable, and the Virginia Tech Foundation Board where she chairs the Development Committee, and the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Council. She also serves on the Mathematics Department Advisory Board, and the university campaign steering committee. 

Caldwell also serves as director and treasurer of the New York Service Program for Older People, director of the Research Foundation for the State University of New York system, director of Techulon Inc., and as a member of the University at Albany University Council and School of Business Advisory Board.

Jean Gibbons Fielden

Gibbons was the second woman to earn a doctoral degree in statistics from Virginia Tech. A pioneer for women in statistics, she spent her professional life actively championing the field. 

She was the first chair for the American Statistical Association’s Committee for Women in Statistics. She joined the faculty at the University of Alabama in 1970, where she was the Thomas D. Russell Professor of Applied Statistics and chair of the Applied Statistics Program, until her retirement in 1995. 

She was elected a Fellow of the ASA at age 34 and served four terms on their board of directors. An active writer and researcher, she has published 10 scholarly books in statistics including her first, “Non-Parametric Statistical Inference” which was originally published in 1970 and is currently in its fifth edition. 

Gibbons has testified about statistical evidence before congressional committees and served as a consultant and expert witness in legal cases involving statistics. 

Since her retirement in 1995 she has co-authored two non-academic books with her late husband.

David Henderson

Henderson is president of WBH Energy Partners LLC, a privately held company developing energy resources in Texas. He has also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for EEX Corporation and as senior vice president international of Pennzoil Corporation. 

A long-time friend of the university he has previously served on the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, the national campaign steering committee, and along with his wife, co-chaired the Houston regional committee for the Campaign for Virginia Tech. 

He is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and is the current chair of the Dean’s Roundtable advisory board.

Theresa Koehler

Koehler is an internationally-recognized expert on anthrax who holds the Herbert L. and Margaret W. DuPont Distinguished Professor in Biomedical Science and is the chair of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. 

In 2008 Koehler became a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and in 2009 she was awarded the Paul E. Darlington Award from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She is an associate editor of PLoS Pathogens and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Bacteriology. 

She has chaired multiple national and international scientific conferences and served on several biodefense related federal advisory committees. She currently chairs the National Institute of Health Review Group on Bacterial Pathogenesis.

William Lewis Jr.

Lewis has the distinction of being Virginia Tech’s first Rhodes Scholar. A partner at McKinsey and Company, one of the nation’s most prestigious and influential management consulting firms, he was the founding director of the McKinsey Global Institute. 

He has held policy making positions with both the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy and is currently active on the boards of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Committee for Economic Development, the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, and the Santa Lucia Conservancy. 

He is the author of “The Power of Productivity” and his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and The Economist.

A. Clifton Lilly Jr.

Lilly retired as the vice president of technology assessment after 38 years with Philip Morris USA. During that time he guided and directed research in a variety of areas including thin films, high speed vision systems, and the application of lasers for high-speed paper perforation. 

His name appears on more than 50 patents for technologies ranging from inkjet printer heads to a method and apparatus for medical diagnosis. 

Lilly was active on the Dean’s Roundtable, and the Department of Physics Advisory Board. In addition to the physics department, he also supported the college’s Institute for Advanced Study. 

Lilly died Aug. 16, 2011.

Kimbley Muller

Muller is the associate general counsel for Shell Oil Company and he has previously served as senior counsel and manager for trademarks and intellectual property at Shell’s Houston headquarters. 

Muller has spent most of his career working on issues involving trademark, copyright, and intellectual property concerns. He has been president of the International Trademark Association, chair of the IP Section of the State Bar of Texas, and president of the Houston Intellectual Property Association. 

For the last nine years Muller has been an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech and an avid supporter of the college’s Intellectual Property Law Program. He currently chairs the Science, Technology, and Law Advisory Board; is a member of the Dean’s Roundtable; and he served on the Houston Regional Committee for the Campaign for Virginia Tech. 

Among his accomplishments, Muller has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Trademark Review in 2013, the President’s Award from the International Trademark Association in 2008, and the Chair Award with the State Bar of Texas in 2004.

G. Robert Quisenberry

Quisenberry is the president of Quisenberry & Warren Ltd., a management consulting firm specializing in conducting opinion surveys to help organizations improve performance. 

An enthusiastic Hokie, Quisenberry was a founding member of the College of Arts and Sciences Roundtable Advisory Board and remains active on the College of Science Roundtable. He has also served as chairman of the Corps of Cadets Gold Cord Committee for the Campaign for Virginia Tech, and was active on the national campaign steering committee. 

Quisenberry is active in a number of civic, religious, and philanthropic organizations in Richmond, Va.

Robert Richardson

Richardson is perhaps best known for his Nobel Prize in physics in 1996 with David Lee and Douglas Osheroff, for their work on superfluidity in helium-3, a breakthrough in the area of low-temperature physics.

He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences who authored numerous publications. 

He joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1968 and was named the Floyd R. Newman Professor of Physics in 1987. He was Cornell’s first vice provost for research and named senior vice provost for research emeritus in 2008. He was the founding director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science and director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics. 

Richardson was an enthusiastic supporter of the college and active on the Dean’s Roundtable. He died Feb. 19, 2013.

William Starnes Jr.

Starnes is considered to be the world’s leading expert in the chemistry of vinyl plastics, particularly poly (vinyl chloride) (PVC), one of the most common plastics in commercial products. 

In 1989 he became the first Floyd Dewey Gottwald Sr., Professor of Chemistry at the College of William and Mary. 

Prior to his career in academia, he spent nearly 25 years in industry, at Esso research and engineering (now Exxon Mobile) and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Although he retired to professor emeritus in 2006, he has continued his groundbreaking work in polymers. 

A second generation Hokie, Starnes is an ardent supporter of the university and college having served on the Department of Chemistry Advisory Council since its inception. 

He has served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Vinyl and Additive Technology and on the editorial boards of several other prestigious journals. 

In 2008 he became the only scientist to be a charter inductee into the Southwest Virginia Walk of Fame.

John Thompson

Thompson was sworn in as the 24th Census Bureau director in 2013 and he now oversees preparations for the 2020 census and presides over more than 100 other annual surveys providing critical data about America’s people and economy. 

Starting his career with the Census Bureau, Thompson was the associate director for the 2000 census before joining the National Opinion Outreach Center at the University of Chicago in 2002 as executive vice president. He became president and chief executive officer of NORC in 2009, serving until 2013. 

A leader in the social science research community, Thompson has been a member of the American Statistical Association since 1975 and was elected a Fellow in 2000. He was also elected as a member of the Committee on National Statistics with the National Academy of Sciences.



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