Christine George of Manassas, Va., a University Honors program student and senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been named among the 20 high-achieving students to the 2008 All-USA College Academic First Team.

This honor is USA Today's recognition program for outstanding undergraduate students from across the country.

Last January, George visited the country of Mali. Her visit was with an entomology class to learn more about research to combat the mosquito-borne disease, malaria. Immediately, George says she felt an attachment to the country—its culture and people. During her visit, George witnessed villagers burdened with fevers from an unknown origin. She says she learned that little data existed on the impact of certain mosquitoes that might spread yellow and other fever viruses.

George says she decided to take action; she proposed a plan and began raising funds to help local Mali scientists establish sustainable mosquito-borne virus surveillance. George raised the funds she needed, with assistance from Zach Adelman, an assistant professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and was able to lead a research team on a month-long survey collecting thousands of mosquitoes and determining high-risk areas of mosquito-borne infections. She also has worked to build a collaborative relationship between Virginia Tech and Mali.

In addition to her interest in mosquito research, George is also heavily involved in raising funds for the Kona BikeTown Africa Campaign. The Kona Bicycle Company has designed a bike specifically for home-healthcare works in Africa. These bikes are delivered to disease-ravaged African countries in order to aid in the delivery of much needed medical treatment and supplies. George recognizes and appreciates the community health implications of this program.

George says her ultimate professional goal is to pursue a career in medicine with a dual emphasis in global health and infectious disease.

Each of the 20 first-team members was selected by a panel of judges from approximately 500 juniors and seniors. Each first team member will receive $2,500 cash awards as representatives of all outstanding undergraduates.

George was nominated for this award by the University Honors program with support from the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Science and the Department of Entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.

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