Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology and immunology at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, has received the Graduate School’s 2017 Faculty Outstanding Mentor Award.

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.

Yuan, a faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, is an expert on rotaviruses, which are a common cause of acute dehydrating diarrhea in infants and young children and other young animals worldwide, and noroviruses, which cause most of the epidemic nonbacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world.

Her laboratory is developing a gnotobiotic pig model of human enteric virus infection and diseases and is studying mechanisms of probiotics’ immune modulating effects on innate and adaptive immunity induced by virus infection and vaccines in human rotavirus infection and disease using an animal model. She also studies norovirus pathogenesis and immunity and evaluates norovirus vaccines and potential anti-norovirus drugs.

Yuan’s students called her a remarkable academic mentor and a compassionate individual who not only shares her joy in her work with students, but encourages their own passion for science. Students said she has the ability to take a student with little experience in the field and help them become well-trained researchers. She also encourages students to develop a good work-life balance. Through her mentoring, her students said, they have learned to become mentors themselves.

Yuan earned her bachelor’s degrees from Beijing University, her master’s degree from the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in Beijing, and her Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

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