BLACKSBURG, Va., May 2, 2012 – Jack Webster, professor of ecology in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2012 William E. Wine Award.
The William E. Wine Achievement Awards were established in 1957 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in memory of William E. Wine, Class of 1904, who was a former rector of the board of visitors and alumni association president. Following a college-level selection process of candidates nominated by students, faculty, and alumni, each college may put forth one nominee. Three faculty members are selected to receive this teaching award by a committee representing all eight colleges at the university. Each Wine Award winner receives $2,000 and automatic induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.
In his 36 years in the university’s Department of Biological Sciences, Webster has established himself as an exceptional teacher-scholar.
According to the department’s honorifics committee members and department head Brenda Winkel, students see that Webster fosters a high degree of student involvement in both teaching and research. “Most remarkable is that one in five students who have written comments on their evaluations over the years have noted that he is one of the best teachers they have had at Virginia Tech,” Winkel said.
Webster’s overall Student Perceptions of Teaching scores average 3.65 out of a possible 4.0. He has received three departmental teaching awards and a Certificate of Teaching Excellence from the college.
Since joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 1975, Webster has taught 11 different courses ranging from sophomore-level Principles of Ecology to a graduate-level course in Modeling Stream Ecosystems.
In 1978, Webster, along with Professor Fred Benfield, started the Stream Team to train graduate students in the team approach to ecosystem research.
“Jack’s graduate students are research leaders at universities, in industry, research foundations, and in government agencies, all of whom write letters that underscore similar attributes of exceptional advisor and mentor,” Winkel said.
One former student, Laura Johnson, who currently manages a National Science Foundation project as a post-doctoral research associate at Indiana University noted that Webster had high expectations, which gave her and several others confidence and enthusiasm for stream ecology and conducting research.
Webster is also a world-renowned researcher, having secured $6.3 million as a principal- or co-principal-investigator on grants, and another $32 million as a contributing member of research teams involving several other universities. He has published 100 peer-reviewed papers and 35 book chapters. Two papers were published, one in Science and one in Nature, the leading journals in the scientific community.
Webster received his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.
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 biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.