Sarah Karpanty, an associate professor and assistant department head in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, has received the Graduate School’s 2018 Faculty Outstanding Mentor Award for the College of Natural Resources and Environment.

Sponsored by the Graduate School, the annual award recognizes excellence in mentoring graduate students. Students nominate recipients, and one professor from each college receives an award.

Karpanty studies how individual animal behavior influences populations and community ecology and how human activities alter animal behavior. Most of her funded research and focus has been on coastal wildlife population in the United States, but she also studies these fields in Madagascar. She has received more than $14 million in research grants and projects while at Virginia Tech, and has authored numerous articles. She also serves as the graduate program coordinator for the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

Her approach to mentorship is “engaging, enlightened, and rigorous,” said students who nominated her. She helps students secure grants needed for their work and fosters strong relationships with them. Students who were on her Madagascar research team said she worked tirelessly to ensure their safety during an outbreak of the plague on the island. Students also noted that Karpanty helped them develop mentoring skills and modeled effective teaching practices for them as well. Zach Farris, now a visiting assistant professor at Appalachian State University, said, “Her type of mentoring, which combines tough and effective advising with respectful and caring friendship, is truly a rare thing and ensures that her students will continue to find success.”

Karpanty earned her bachelor’s degree at Miami University and her Ph.D. at The State University of New York at Stony Brook.