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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Ann Stevens


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Ann Stevens, professor of Biological Sciences, for creating a welcoming and comfortable learning environment, fostering integrative learning, and encouraging cooperative and active learning processes in her courses. Stevens believes, 'It is absolutely necessary to establish mutual respect in the classroom or the laboratory.'

A recipient of a NSF-CAREER award, Stevens has led efforts to revise the curriculum for undergraduate biological sciences majors in the microbiology/immunology option since joining the VT faculty in 1997. The curriculum changes that were implemented have made it the most popular departmental option (~80 students enrolled per year). Students graduating from the option are well prepared to enter the workforce, graduate school or professional programs.

Altogether she has taught ~2000 students in BIOL 2104-Cell and Molecular Biology, BIOL 2604-General Microbiology and BIOL 4634/5634-Microbial Physiology, courses required as part of the option. Cell and Molecular Biology and General Microbiology are large-enrollment service courses, attracting undergraduates from majors across campus. Microbial Physiology is a specialized course with both upper-level biological sciences undergraduates and graduate students from multiple disciplines enrolled. Since 2000, this course has served as a working model for dual-level (4000/5000) courses that has now been broadly adopted by others for entry-level graduate classes.

It is Stevens's desire to “instill in [her] students the self-confidence to formulate and express their own interpretation of new information to others, and thereby believe that they have the necessary tools to achieve their long-term educational and career objectives."

Since 2007, Stevens has served in the role of Coordinator for the Microbiology/Immunology group in Biological Sciences. She facilitates cooperative teaching strategies amongst the faculty instructing the Microbiology option courses and the staff personnel who maintain the microbiology teaching laboratories that serve >800 students per year. Working with others, she implemented an inquiry-based learning activity into the General Microbiology Laboratory and helped to develop a new course manual, with the goal of improving the quality of the learning experience for students.

Stevens has won outstanding teaching awards from the Department of Biological Science, the College of Science and a university Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair for the VT Academy of Teaching Excellence. Students in her department and the Dept. of Student Activities have also recognized her for her advising activities. In her laboratory, Stevens has mentored 33 undergraduates involved in research, another eight serving as teaching assistants, and has been either the advisor or co-advisor to 12 master’s students, seven Ph.D. candidates, and one postdoctoral assistant. She also serves as co-advisor to the Microbiology Club of VT, a student affiliate of the American Society for Microbiology, which routinely engages in K-5 educational outreach activities.

Bryndan Durham studied with Stevens as an undergraduate before enrolling in the graduate program at the University of Georgia.

“I will soon begin teaching, and I plan to model my teaching philosophy based on hers,” she says. “I feel that Dr. Stevens has very high expectations, and she provides the necessary tools for students to reach these expectations. She teaches a difficult subject that is highly focused, and at the same time she illustrates the broad impacts of microbiology. She presents information in such a way that [it] inspires students to learn and get excited about the material.”

David Popham, Professor of Microbiology, says Stevens “has provided the Department of Biological Sciences and Virginia Tech with exceptional and innovative teaching. Her teaching activities can serve as an example for all Virginia Tech faculty.”


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