Alexander X. Niemiera, professor for the Department of Horticulture and assistant dean of student programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has received the university’s 2016 William E. Wine Award.
The William E. Wine Award was established in 1957 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in memory of William E. Wine, Class of 1904, who was a former rector of the Board of Visitors and Alumni Association president. Following a college-level selection process of candidates nominated by students, faculty, and alumni, each college may put forth one nominee. From this group, three faculty members are selected annually. Each Wine Award winner receives $2,000 and automatic induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.
In addition to teaching five routine courses per year, Niemiera has taught seven other courses for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He consistently receives above average SPOT evaluation scores from students who often describe his dedication to his students and the material.
Each semester he trains two to three graduate teaching assistants to conduct weekly woody plant identification labs for HORT 3325 and 3326.
“Although Dr. Niemiera has many advisees, teaches various classes, and has research responsibilities, he always makes every student feel as if they are deserving of his full attention,” wrote Jacob Shreckhise, Department of Horticulture graduate student, in a letter of nomination. “Not only does he make all of his students and GTAs feel welcome at all times, he always greets each with a smile and a comment tailored to the student.”
In 2014, Niemiera developed instructional materials to teach woody plant identification to Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association personnel. The project received funding through grants, totaling more than $20,000.
Other funded projects include his Citizen Gardner Teaching Projects in which Niemiera established four edible landscape demonstration gardens to educate citizens about edible landscape species. He also developed and delivered six plant breeding workshops to to teach citizens how to breed new horticultural varieties. These projects received more than $60,000 in grants.
He developed HORT 2184 Plants, Places, Cultures Globally in 2010 and completely revamped HORT 2234 Environmental Factors in Horticulture in 2014.
Niemiera was the recipient of the 2014 Virginia Tech Award for Excellence in Career Advising.