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Alumni Award for Research Excellence

The Office of Research and Innovation requests nominations for the Alumni Award for Research Excellence.

The Alumni Association established the Award for Research Excellence (AARE) in 1975 to promote research at Virginia Tech.  To achieve this purpose, the Alumni Association awards up to two Alumni Awards for Research Excellence to individuals (or research teams) who have reached a level of research achievement judged to be the most significant within the University. 

Awards are made in two categories: (1) science or engineering and (2) social sciences, humanities, or arts. One award may be given in each category, and there may be no more than one awardee from a single major unit (college or institute) in a given year.  

Alumni Award recipients will be awarded $2000 and a plaque; awardees will be announced at the annual Faculty and Staff Awards Ceremony.

Nominations and Eligibility:

  • Nominations may come from alumni, students, faculty, department heads, directors, and deans.  Self-nominations are not permitted.
  • The title of Distinguished Professor is the highest honor bestowed by Virginia Tech;  therefore, Distinguished Professors are not eligible.
  • Retired faculty are not eligible.
  • The fact that an individual has already received this award will not be a basis for exclusion of consideration.
  • The award may be granted jointly to two or more persons where the research was done jointly, not otherwise.
  • Recipients 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).
  • Last year nominations:  Individuals who were nominated last year are automatically considered for an award for the 2022-2023 academic year if dossiers are complete.  The nominator may update elements of the nominee’s dossier (e.g., nomination cover letter, external reference letters, CV).

Nomination Package Instructions:

Nominators should prepare the required documentation so that peers in unrelated fields can appreciate the significance of the nominee's work.  The issues of how the work relates to the state-of-the-art and what impact it has had on the field should be addressed clearly and concisely.  

Required Elements:  Cover Letter,  External Reference Letters, Curriculum Vita

Cover Letter.  Please format with Times New Roman, 11- or 12-pt font, 1” margins.  Not to exceed two (2) pages.  Cover letter must include the following sections in this order, with these headings:

  1. Name(s) of the nominee:  The award may be granted to an individual or 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, highlights of scholarly achievements (such as publications & presentations).
  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, fellowships, 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. Proposed citation: Provide a statement about the nominee/why you are nominating (not more than 20 words). 
  7. Proposed by: Provide the nominator(s) name, title. If a committee is making the nomination, please list members. Include date of nomination.
  8. External Referee Information: Provide name, title and brief description of the qualifications of the three (3) external referees providing letters.

External Reference Letters: Provide three (3) professional reference letters outside the University who are familiar with the candidate's achievements and their significance.  Letters should provide a thorough, objective assessment of the candidate’s accomplishments as a scholar and researcher and an opinion as to whether the level of accomplishment is appropriate to receive the AARE.  Letters must be on official letterhead and signed. *Take note: new this year (2022-2023), the nominator is responsible for acquiring external reference letters, not the Office of Research and Innovation.

Curriculum Vita: The nomination should be accompanied by a CV(s), to include lists of publications by category, or performances, grants and contracts, awards, etc.

Selection Criteria:

  1. The research must have been conducted since the time the nominee joined the Virginia Tech faculty, although it may be a continuation of research started prior to coming to Virginia Tech.
  2. 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.
  3. Evidence of excellence in the performance of diligent research, studious inquiry, exhaustive investigation, having as its aim the discovery of new facts, and their 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.
  4. One of the bases on which applicants shall be chosen will be their 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).


Nomination Package must be submitted to Robyn Smyth ( by close of business, January 31, 2023.  The nomination cover letter, external reference letters, and CV should be included as one single PDF document. 

Past Winners


  • Brett Jones
  • Maury Nussbaum


  • Amy Pruden
  • Kevin Boyle


  • Rafael Davalos
  • Martha Ann Bell


  • 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