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Decourcy and Dolan receive the Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence team achievement


BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 30, 2005 – Kristi DeCourcy, of Catawba, Va., laboratory manager at the Fralin Biotechnology Center, and Erin Dolan, of Blacksburg, Va., assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the center’s outreach efforts, have received the 2005 Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence for team achievement.

The Alumni Association established the Alumni Awards for Outreach Excellence to recognize university faculty who have made outstanding contributions extending the university's outreach mission throughout the commonwealth and nation, as well as internationally. One award is for individual excellence and another is presented to a team nominated by the members' peers.

The Fralin Biotechnology Center develops and implements an outreach program as a way to inform and educate the public about biotechnology and its applications and has actively and visibly served as a liaison between scientists and the general public. The center partners with high schools and community colleges to enhance understanding of biotechnology in the public sector and promote development of a skilled work force. Under the leadership of the outreach director, the center has received $1.8 million in federal grant funds.

DeCourcy and Dolan's nomination focused on three outreach efforts: Biotech-in-a-Box, through which Virginia teachers receive kits and materials to conduct biotechnology activities; an annual Biotechnology Education Conference attracting 200 high school and college biology educators from across the nation; and PREP, a program that fosters partnerships between and among high school biology teachers and research scientists.

Decourcy has served as research specialist in the Department of Biochemistry at Virginia Tech and in the University of Virginia's Department of Microbiology. She has served as a consultant for Bio-Rad at Hercules in California and is a member of the National Association of Biology Teachers. She received a B.A. in biology from State University of New York, Purchase, and an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Virginia Tech.

Dolan earned a B.A. in biology, cum laude with distinction, from Wellesley College, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of California, San Francisco. She has served as director of the BIOTECH Project at the University of Arizona and as outreach director of the Fralin Biotechnology Center. She has worked on projects funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation in various states and serves on the executive board of the National Association for Health and Science Education Partnerships, of which she is the president-elect. She is also a member of the American Educational Research Association, the National Science Teachers Association, and the National Association of Biology Teachers.

Consistently ranked by the National Science Foundation among the top 10 institutions in agricultural research, Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers students the opportunity to learn from some of the world's leading agricultural scientists. The college's comprehensive curriculum gives students a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. The college is a national leader in incorporating technology, biotechnology, computer applications, and other recent scientific advances into its teaching program.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.