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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2014 / 04 

Dana M. Hawley receives 2014 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching

April 22, 2014

Dana Hawley
Dana Hawley

Dana M. Hawley, associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2014 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among those faculty members who have received Certificates of Teaching Excellence from their respective colleges in the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

Hawley teaches both upper-level undergraduate and graduate level courses and receives student evaluation scores well above the departmental average.

“Dr. Hawley joined our faculty in the spring of 2007 and has been a strong advocate and practitioner of student-centered education in the classroom and service learning outside of the classroom from day one,” wrote Brenda Winkel, professor and head of the Department of Biological Sciences in her nomination letter. “She has been an outstanding contributor to the teaching missions of our department, the college, and the university.”

Hawley took on the teaching responsibility of an existing course, Ornithology, an upper division course devoted to the study of birds. Hawley transformed a course once characterized by rote memorization of species names and taxonomy into one in which students become an engaged and active-learning community. She has accomplished this through the use of in-class discussions of recent research papers, peer evaluation of student grant proposals, videos to demonstrate lecture concepts, and service learning.

In 2011, Hawley received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award to support her research and teaching initiatives. Hawley used part of her award to develop a new graduate course, Outreach in Biology, which aims to improve science communication more broadly by teaching scientists-in-training how to effectively communicate their work to the public.

To date, four graduate students and more than 25 undergraduate students have performed research in Hawley’s lab. Four of these students appeared as co-authors on journal articles and 11 on professional presentations. NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) supplements have supported two undergraduates.

At Virginia Tech, Hawley was previously honored with the Department of Biological Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 2012 and the College of Science Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 2013.

In addition to her teaching, Hawley maintains a strong research program with a total of more than $7 million in funding, almost $3 million as principle investigator. Also a member of the Fralin Life Science Institute, her research focuses on ecological and evolutionary factors that affect host immunity and disease dynamics, with a specialization in birds.

Hawley received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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