Editor's note: This story was updated to correct Anne Brown's hometown and her role with the Graduate Teaching Scholars Program.

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 4, 2015 – Four members of the Virginia Tech community -- Emily Gabrysch, a web designer for the Department of Human Resources; David Kniola, an affiliated assistant professor and assistant director for the Office of Assessment and Evaluation; Anne Brown, a graduate student in biochemistry; and Louis "Bobby" Hollingsworth, an undergraduate student in chemical engineering and biochemistry  -- have been selected to receive the university’s 2015 Illuminator Award.

The award is given annually to four members of the Virginia Tech community who have outstanding abilities, innovative ideas to fuel the future, well-honed leadership skills, and a commitment to service. The awards will be presented on June 8.

"Illuminators are members of our university community who demonstrate what it means to 'invent the future' by creating, researching, or developing a new or better idea that will enrich the future," said Cecelia Crow, brand marketing manager. "These award winners may also be community members who go above and beyond the call of duty by way of stellar customer service for the betterment of the university or exemplary leadership for the betterment of the future of society or a charitable cause."

  • Emily Gabrysch, a web designer for the Department of Human Resources, custom built the Employee Dashboard, a Web application that annually allows nearly 1,000 new employees to check their progress in becoming a new Virginia Tech employee. The dashboard will be rolled out to all current employees, allowing all employees to log into the system to view their personal and job information as well as information related to direct deposit, tax forms, health insurance, retirement selection, emergency training, prior state service, and degree verification among many other things. Just a few months after coming to Virginia Tech, Emily also assumed numerous additional responsibilities from the department’s former director of information technology.
  • David Kniola, who will receive the faculty award, serves both as assistant director for the Office of Assessment and Evaluation, where he has designed and implemented an innovative academic-program review process, and as an affiliated assistant professor of higher education, teaching graduate courses in finance, public policy, and global higher education. Kniola initiated the Riva Institute for Quality in Higher Education, an international education and research collaborative focusing on university quality assurance, and has led interdisciplinary education experiences to Europe for graduate students studying global perspectives in higher education. He is also currently assisting with the creation of the University of Business and Technology in Oman, a new university focusing on integrated-STEM disciplines. In addition, Kniola partnered with Timothy Baird and designed a novel class assignment, Pink Time , to promote student motivation and self-regulated learning. Widely published, Pink Time has been incorporated into graduate and undergraduate courses throughout Virginia Tech and the University of Colorado Boulder.  
  • Anne Brown, of Roanoke, Virginia, is pursuing a Ph.D. in biochemistry, studying the molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease. She's a member of the Graduate Teaching Scholars Program and a mentor to 15 undergraduate students working on research projects, Brown developed the Visiting Kits project, which partners Virginia Tech students with elderly community members who reside in Warm Hearth Village. The kits are designed to facilitate one-on-one companion-visit kits for residents with dementia in a continuing care facility. 
  • Louis “Bobby” Hollingsworth, of Springfield, Virginia, is a University Honors student majoring in chemical engineering and biochemistry/chemistry and a Center for Enhancement of Engineering peer mentor. Active in undergraduate research both at Virginia Tech and through internships and programs at other institutions, including the National Institutes of Health’s structural biology lab of the National Cancer Institute, Hollingsworth was recently awarded a University Honors Class of 1954 Fellowship to pursue HIV relief work in Botswana. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology in order to make positive contributions to biomedical sciences and human health, particularly using molecular biochemistry to study cancer and HIV, both of which have impacted him personally through the deaths of family and friends.

The Illuminator Award recipients were selected from nominations submitted before April 6. 

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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