Virginia Tech's Office of Undergraduate Research selected a new set of student ambassadors for the 2015-16 academic year. The students represent a diverse set of academic disciplines and research experience.

“The Office of Undergraduate Research ambassadors are really the ‘face’ of the office, sharing information about undergraduate research in general as well as the office itself and our services. They are our key connection with the student population,” said Keri Swaby, the coordinator of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “The ambassadors selected represent a diverse cross section of disciplines and they are all enthusiastic about their own research experiences, so I am really excited about the possibilities we will have to serve the broader campus community this year.”

The ambassadors include:

  • Alexandra Flevarakis of Fairfax, Virginia, a junior majoring in wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and the Environment.
  • Matthew Johnson of Woodbridge, Virginia, a senior majoring in English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
  • Rachel Ladenburger of Morehead City, North Carolina, a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science.
  • Amina Rahimi of Burke, Virginia, a junior majoring in biochemistry in the College of Science.
  • Sarah Sam of Ashburn, Virginia, a senior majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science.
  • Shane Taylor of Blacksburg, Virginia, a senior majoring in chemical engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Colby Weit of Lititz, Pennsylvania, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Diana Woodrum of Sterling, Virginia, a senior majoring in food science and technology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Each ambassador was hand-selected by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the 2014-2015 ambassadors during a competitive application, recommendation, and interview process.

The ambassadors’ responsibilities include hosting weekly office hours and information sessions on undergraduate research. By providing this peer relationship, students have the opportunity to come to the ambassadors to ask general questions about getting involved in research on or off campus, how to share research results broadly, and how to get the most out of these experiences.

"The ambassador program has been a tremendous success, allowing experienced undergraduate researchers the opportunity to ‘pay it forward,’” said Jill Sible, assistant provost for undergraduate education. “In addition to the peer mentoring the ambassadors provide, I value their candid advice about how we can improve the culture of undergraduate research at Virginia Tech."

The ambassadors will host two information sessions each month, in addition to office hours. Times will be advertised on the Office of Undergraduate Research website.

Written by Leslie McCrea, a senior majoring in multimedia journalism in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.