Craig Brians is the favorite teacher at Virginia Tech this year.

Brians, a professor of political science since 1998, received the highest number of votes when the Virginia Tech Student Alumni Associates asked students across campus to name their favorite teacher. Brians then received the Students' Choice Award for faculty member of the year.

When presented the award in front of his Research Methods in Political Science class, Brians was uncharacteristically speechless. "I am very grateful that students have shown their appreciation for the teaching efforts we make in political science," Brians said recently. "Through humor and examples from my personal life (which are sometimes the same thing) I try to make empirical analysis more accessible and relevant in class. A number of students over the last several years have come back and individually expressed to me their appreciation for my teaching them software packages and data analysis skills, but to receive this student-voted award from the Virginia Tech Student Alumni Associates is overwhelming."

The Virginia Tech Student Alumni Associates is the student-ambassador group for the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, and its yearly vote is to recognize and thank faculty, said Shari Malone, coordinator of Student Programs for the alumni association.

Brians teaches courses in American politics, elections, public opinion, political communication, and research methods. His research interests focus on elections, particularly the effects of institutions, social settings, mass media information, and personal characteristics on political participation. He has both a Ph.D. in Political Science and a Masters in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Besides conducting a vote for the students' choice faculty member, the Student Alumni Associates holds a faculty-appreciation day in which students receive apples to present to their favorite teachers, and local restaurants offer a buy-one, get-one-free lunch for students who take a professor to lunch that day, Malone said.

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