Michael F. Hochella of Blacksburg, professor of geosciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been named a University Distinguished Professor, a rank that honors select members of the faculty for widely renowned scholarly achievements.
The rank of University Distinguished Professor is bestowed by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors to no more than one percent of members of the faculty whose scholarly attainments have attracted national and/or international recognition.
Hochella is a pioneer in the emerging field of nano- bio- geochemistry, a field of study believed to be a critical part of studies of the global environment. He was the first in his field to use atomic-force and scanning-tunneling microscopes as well as high-resolution transmission electron microscopes to study surface properties at the atomic level. He has applied this research to many areas of earth science and mineralogy, particularly environmental contamination issues.
To date, his sponsored research programs total $12 million. He has written more than 120 scientific papers in professional journals and books, and his published work has had more than 3,000 citations. He is also one of the three founding editors of Elements, a major international magazine in the field of mineralogy, petrology, and geochemistry
In addition to his research, Hochella is also a highly respected teacher. He consistency receives high student teaching evaluations.
Hochella has been a leader in introducing nanoscience and nanotechnology into the curricula of Virginia high schools. He is a highly sought after international speaker, and he has given nanoscience and technology briefings to the United States Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, the General Accountability Office in Washington, and the Virginia General Assembly.
He has been honored with the Geochemical Society’s Distinguished Service Medal, induction as a Fellow in the American Geophysical Union, Virginia Scientist of the Year (2005) Award, the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence, and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award.
Hochella received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.
The Board of Visitors also awarded the title University Distinguished Professor to Hanif Sherali, the W. Thomas Rice Chair of Engineering in the Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the title Alumni Distinguished Professor to Gary Downey, professor of science and technology in society in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
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 nano-scale and biological sciences, information theory and science, and supports research centers—in areas such as biomedical and public health sciences, and critical technology and applied science—that encompass other colleges at the university. The College of Science also houses programs in pre-medicine and scientific law. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.