Sheldon Masters, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in environmental and water resources engineering through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, was named the university's 2015 Graduate Student of the Year.

Presented by the Graduate School, the annual award recognizes graduate students for their character, service and outstanding contributions, and academic achievements at Virginia Tech.

"Sheldon is an exemplary graduate student in every possible way, from his hard work and dedication, to his willingness to lend a helping hand, and always a smile to go with it all,” said Amy Pruden, associate dean of the Graduate School and professor of civil engineering.

Masters, of Mandeville, Jamaica, is a graduate research assistant with the WATERInterface Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program, which focuses on problems associated with “water for health.” He is an advocate for academic integrity and ethics, serving as an investigator for the Graduate Honor System since 2011. He also has conducted seminars focused on responsible research conduct and ethics.

Pruden said Masters brings passion and integrity to his teaching, scholarship, service, and support of others. “He has been a true joy to work with.”

Masters’ advisor, Marc Edwards, the Charles Lunford Professor of Civil Engineering, said he excelled in research, teaching and service. He noted Masters’ commitment to teaching ethics to other students, and his development of an orientation course for all new civil and environmental engineering students, and his work as an instructor for the course, Academic Integrity and Plagiarism. 

Edwards also noted that Masters’ research is “at the nexus of corrosion, applied aquatic chemistry, potable water distribution and public health.”

Edwards said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is using findings from one area of Masters’ research, and called him “a wonderful team player, unselfishly taking ‘the grunt work’ needed for the overall success of the project whenever needed.”

Masters said he wants join academe as a professor and continue working on problems that affect the public, “and incorporate that into my teaching and research.”

He earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from The College of Wooster. He received a master's degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech.

Masters was honored at the Graduate School’s awards dinner on March 26, and will be recognized again during commencement ceremonies on May 15.

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.