Jill C. Sible, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology and associate dean for curriculum, instruction and advising in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, recently received the university's 2008 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Established in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented annually to honor two Virginia Tech faculty members for teaching excellence. Award recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence and are chosen from among those faculty members who have received certificates of teaching excellence from their respective colleges during the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded a $2,000 cash prize and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Sible is one of the instructors for Cell and Molecular Biology, a required sophomore-level course for biological science majors. Her enrollments have grown dramatically from below 50 students per section to approximately 150 students reflecting high student demand to be in her particular section. Her course evaluations from students are among the highest in the department.

“Student comments about her teaching are extremely positive,” said Robert H. Jones, professor and head of the Department of Biological Sciences. “Most students commented on her ability to present difficult concepts in understandable terms. Exemplary comments include, ‘the best biology teaching I experienced at [Virginia] Tech,’ and ‘had it not been for this class and her teaching, I probably would have switched majors.’”

To improve her instruction, Sible has taken eight teaching and education workshops from various university organizations, including the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and the Faculty Development Institute. She also successfully acquired education funding, obtaining more than $125,000 to increase gender diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, and supplement research for underrepresented minority students.

Since 1998, Sible has mentored more than 30 undergraduate students conducting research in her laboratory. She has been the advisor for three master’s degree students, and five Ph.D. candidates, and has been part of the graduate advisory committee for an additional 30 students

Sible received her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and a Ph.D. from Tufts University.