The second class of candidates has been selected for the Graduate Teaching Scholar Program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The program prepares doctoral students for a career in academia not only as researchers, but also as educators. The program provides graduate students in their first or second year of a Ph.D. program the opportunity to hone teaching skills and become captains of the classroom as inspiring and well-rounded educators, mentors, and leaders.

Students learn by participating in weekly seminars and completing coursework focused on teaching methodologies. Participants are awarded a future professoriate certificate upon completion of the program.

“Last year’s program was extremely successful and many students presented what they had learned at conferences nationwide,” said Susan Sumner, associate dean and director of academic programs. “We are excited to see what types of novel learning techniques our next cohort will develop with their training. The students are already incorporating their experiences here into the next stages of their careers.”

Students selected to participate in this year’s Graduate Teaching Scholar Program include:

  • Angela Bailey of Blacksburg, Va., a graduate student in human nutrition, food and exercise. She produced positive results for an NIH-funded program targeting rural Appalachia through an education campaign to reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages in the region. “Even though I have previous experience teaching in a classroom, there are a lot of gaps in my skill set that the program will help me fill in,” she said.
  • Stephanie Houston of Blacksburg, Va., a biological systems engineering graduate student came to Virginia Tech as a former transportation engineer. Now she studies water nutrient recycling and surface water pollution. She already has some teaching experience, but she says she hopes the training in the Graduate Teaching Scholar Program will augment her ability to, “show students that learning is a wonderful discovery process to enjoy.”
  • Anne Brown of Roanoke, Va., a graduate student in biochemistry, has conducted clinical research in molecular mechanisms of toxicity associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and plans to use her experience in the program to enhance her ability to impart highly technical knowledge to her students. “I see the increasing responsibility of teaching throughout the program as a way for me to build confidence in teaching and establishing learning objectives,” she said.

Other Ph.D. candidates in this year’s program are:

Meanwhile, the program’s inaugural scholars have pursued a variety of education-related activities such as attending conferences and submitting papers for presentation at forums around the country.

In January, Graduate Teaching Scholar Program participant Matthew Schroeder of Phoenix, Md., from the Department of Food Science and Technology traveled to the Hawaii International Conference on Education, where he presented a poster titled, “Graduate Teaching Scholars: Preparing the Next Generation of Faculty in Higher Education.”

“People were extremely excited to see faculty being trained while they were still in graduate school,” he said.

Mara Grossman of Blacksburg, Va., from the Department of Horticulture, attended the National Floriculture Forum where she delivered an oral presentation entitled, “Preparing the Next Generation of Faculty in Higher Education: Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Graduate Teaching Scholars.” She also has had an abstract accepted for oral presentation at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Conference that will be held Virginia Tech in June. She will present findings from her pilot study of the use of iClickers in a horticulture course.  

All of the participants will present a poster at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Conference entitled "College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Graduate Teaching Scholars Program Opens New Doors for Future Faculty Candidates."



Written by Amy Loeffler.
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