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Alumni Award for Research Excellence

Established by the Alumni Association in 1975 for the purpose of promoting research, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation requests that the research community submit nominations for the Alumni Award for Research Excellence. Individuals or research teams who have reached a level of research achievement judged to be the most significant within the university are eligible. 

Up to two awards, one in each category and no more than one awardee from a single major unit (college or institute), will be awarded. Each recipient will be awarded $2,000 and a plaque. Awardees are announced in early Spring.

Please note that individuals who were nominated last year will automatically be considered for an award again this year by the committee if their dossiers are complete. The nominator is encouraged to update their nominees’ dossiers (e.g., nomination, CV, reference letters).


  1. Science or engineering
  2. Social sciences, humanities, or arts

The Work:

  • Evidence of excellence in the performance of diligent research, studious inquiry, exhaustive investigation, seeking the discovery of new facts, correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories or laws in light of newly discovered facts or the practical application of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws.


  • The recipient must have been a member of the Virginia Tech faculty for a period of at least three years and hold the rank of associate professor or professor (or equivalent).
  • The recipient’s research ability as evaluated by peers in the appropriate discipline and as indicated by peer refereed publications and/or exhibits (refereed journal articles, books, patents, and/or recognition of exhibit competitions).
  • Preference will be given to sustained research over a period of three years to ten years, although in exceptional cases, the award may be given for a single piece of outstanding work without regard to time.
  • The award may be granted jointly to two or more persons where the research was done jointly, not otherwise.
  • The fact that an individual has already received this award will not be a basis for exclusion of consideration.
  • The title of Distinguished Professor is the highest honor bestowed by Virginia Tech, and therefore, Distinguished Professors are not eligible.
  • Retired faculty are not eligible.

Nomination Form Instructions:

The nomination should include the following sections; in this order; with these headings:

  1. Name of the nominee(s).  Provide the name or name(s) of the nominees. The award may be granted jointly to two or more persons for joint research. 
  2. Research category: Designate whether the nomination is for science or engineering; or social sciences, humanities, or arts.
  3. Specific scholarly achievements: Brief description of scholarly achievements.
  4. Research area: Address the importance of the area of research or scholarship and the impact of the work of the nominee. If quotations from reviews or other papers are given, please supply copies of the complete text. Indicate the significance, frequency, etc. of awards or prizes received. Service in professional societies may be cited as evidence of professional visibility, but please do not cite University or community service, or accomplishments in instruction.
  5. Exemplary contributions: Cite no more than five refereed papers or the appropriate equivalent.
  6. References: Provide names, addresses and email addresses of three references outside the university who are familiar with the candidate's achievements and their significance.  Please submit separately (not counted in page limit) brief descriptions of the qualifications of the references. The Committee will contact these individuals directly.  If reference letters are not received by the deadline, the nomination will not be considered.  Nominators should contact Kimberly Borkowski ( to confirm that the three reference letters for their nominees have been received.
  7. Proposed citation: Provide a statement about the nominee/why you are nominating (no more than 20 words).
  8. Proposed by: Nominator name, title, and date of nomination. If nominated by a committee, please list members.

The nomination should be accompanied by the nominee(s) Curriculum Vitae , which includes lists of publications by category, or performances, grants and contracts, awards, etc.

Additional formatting requirements:

  1. The nomination should be written in Times Roman, 11- or 12-pt font, 1” margins.
  2. The nomination must not exceed two pages (Longer nominations will not be considered).
  3. The nomination, bios of references, and CV should be included as one PDF document.

Important Dates:

November 6, 2020: Nominations should be sent electronically (one PDF file of two-page nomination and CV preferred) to Kimberly Borkowski ( by close of business on November 6, 2020.

January 15, 2021: Letters of recommendation will be requested by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and will be due in our office by close of business on January 15, 2021. It is recommended that nominators contact Kimberly Borkowski ( by January 8, 2021 to confirm that letters of recommendation for their nominees have been received.

Past Winners


  • Martha Bell
  • Rafael Davalos


  • Carol Mullen
  • Leo Piilonen


  • Wenjing Lou
  • Billie Lepczyk


  • Janell Watson
  • Liwu Li


  • Joyce Arditti
  • Kathy Lu



  • William Hopkins
  • France Belanger



  • Elizabeth Struthers Malbon
  • Shashank Priya


  • Jeffrey Walters
  • Joseph Pitt



  • Stephen Prince
  • T. Daniel Crawford



  • J. Riffle
  • N. Ramakrishnan



  • T. Long
  • S. Xiao


  • R. Ekirch
  • B. Tyler


  • X. Meng
  • T. Oyama


  • T. Calasanti
  • D. Viehland


  • K. Roberto
  • M. Edwards
  • H. Dorn


  • M. Hochella, Jr.
  • M. Hyer



  • R. Batra
  • H. Gibson


  • D. Farkas
  • D. Lindsay


  • M. Akers
  • T. Watson


  • R. Winett
  • N. Castagnoli, Jr.


  • S. Desu
  • J. Schetz


  • C. Fuller
  • J. Ball


  • T. Rappaport
  • H. Sherali


  • F. Gwazdauskas
  • W. Velander, R. Yoon