Heather Cox, advanced instructor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics, is a recipient of a 2017 Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This annual award recognizes the teaching, mentoring, and leadership activities of faculty in dietetics education programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
Cox is truly dedicated to the dietetics education of HNFE students and counsels them through their undergraduate years by helping plan for future careers as registered dietitians. Her mentoring goes beyond graduation as she continues to guide alumni applying to graduate school, internships, or other professional opportunities. She consistently integrates the strengths of these alumni into the undergraduate program as guest speakers, preceptors, and mentors to current students.
“As DPD Director, Heather seeks out innovative teaching approaches for her own classes and provides oversight and support of the program to assist other faculty members in designing courses that leads to the success of our DPD students," said Carol Papillon, director of the Virginia Tech Internship in Nutrition and Dietetics. "Her skills include impeccable teaching of both on-line and in-person classes; she seeks out challenging and effective assignments that foster critical thinking skills, creativity, and sound problem solving skills. Students are then equipped to excel as leaders in our rapidly changing professional environment,”
Carly MacDougall, a former HNFE master’s student and recent Virginia Tech graduate of the internship program, said that Cox is “an exceptional mentor who gets to know each student in the HNFE Dietetics program on a personal level. After gaining a deeper understanding of your character, interests, and competencies, Heather stays in touch with opportunities that connect us with practicing dietitians. She is devoted to our success and works tirelessly to understand what internship directors and graduate programs desire in applicants.”
Since entering the profession in 1998, Cox has consistently served as an outstanding educator, including roles as a committed preceptor, adjunct instructor, full-time instructor, and now as DPD director. In each of her professional roles, she has emulated the qualities identified in the outstanding educator award; innovative teaching, mentoring, and demonstrated leadership.