BLACKSBURG, Va., June 18, 2007 – Jill Sible, associate professor of biological sciences, is the recipient of this year's College of Science Diversity Award for her contributions that have made a lasting impact in numerous areas of diversity on campus.
Sible was recognized for her efforts in building a career pipeline for underrepresented groups in science. Her efforts have focused on a number of dimensions, including classroom teaching, undergraduate research, graduate education, faculty recruitment, and faculty mentoring.
“Since joining the university in 1998, Jill has emerged as a leader in our push to enhance diversity and create a welcoming environment to all,” said Robert H. Jones, professor and head of the biological sciences department. “She is one of our best undergraduate research and graduate student mentors in terms of the quantity of students that are from underrepresented groups, and more importantly, in terms of quality.”
More than 20 undergraduate students have conducted research in Sible’s lab. They include several African Americans and a large percentage of women. She is on the advisory board for the Mid Eastern Alliance for Minority Participation and is a founding member of the department’s diversity committee. Sible’s lab was the first in the department to graduate an African American female Ph.D. student.
In addition, Sible has received her department’s outstanding teaching award four times, and last year was presented the university’s Diggs Scholar Award in recognition of excellent teaching, highlighted by a new, innovative, NSF-funded approach to use social context to improve science learning.
“Her success has been phenomenal,” Jones said. “Her methodology in the classroom has resulted in people who have never felt comfortable as members of the majority dominated science profession, suddenly finding themselves able to get into the excitement of science without the threat of feeling disenfranchised.”
Sible has also become a successful recruiter and mentor for women faculty members. Six of the department’s last 12 hires were women.
“Jill is by nature very practical and savvy, but also very kind and positive,” Jones said. “The combination of these traits, plus her willingness to go out of the way to help, has made her one of the best faculty mentors we have ever had.”
“My activities with diversity have given me far more than I have received,” Sible said. “My life is enriched daily by the talents and perspectives of those around me. At Virginia Tech, I have been supported in my efforts to promote diversity, but there is still much work to be done to create a culture that embraces diversity in all its forms.”
Sible received her Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire in 1990 and her Ph.D. in cell, molecular and developmental biology from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1995.
The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biology, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college is dedicated to fostering a research intensive environment and offers programs in many cutting edge areas, including those in nanotechnology, biological sciences, information theory and science, and supports the university’s research initiatives through the Institute for Critical Technologies and Applied Sciences, and the Institute for Biomedical and Public Health Sciences. The College of Science also houses programs in intellectual property law and pre-medicine.