Sonia Hirt, of Blacksburg, assistant professor of urban affairs and planning in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, has received a $25,000 fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). Hirt will use the funds during a research leave this spring to study the social and spatial characteristics of the post-communist suburbs in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia.

The American Council of Learned Societies is one of the premiere humanities/social science foundations in the nation. American Council of Learned Societies fellowships are used by the Association of American Universities as a measure for faculty research excellence. Hirt was one of three recipients in this year’s national American Council of Learned Societies competition, which targeted research in Eastern Europe.

Sonia Hirt has been at Virginia Tech since 2004. She earned an architecture diploma from the Higher Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering in Bulgaria, and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Hirt’s areas of specialization include land use planning and policy, sustainable metropolitan growth, urban theory and history, public policy processes, and international planning.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech is one of the largest colleges of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design and the School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 22 degrees programs taught by 160 faculty members. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.