April HillApril Hill, professor of biology and the Clarence E. Denoon Professor of Science at University of Richmond, is one of 13 recipients of the 2016 Outstanding Faculty Award (OFA) from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and Dominion Resources.

This statewide honor has been bestowed annually since 1987 to selected faculty members for their excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration and public service. The OFA program, open to nominees from all public and private Virginia institutions of higher education, celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016.

Hill is a nationally recognized leader in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and is committed to increasing the number of underrepresented and minority students in the sciences. She directs Richmond’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) grant program, and led the development of programs that have increased participation in STEM courses and fields. Her contributions to courses that support a collaborative and engaged learning community were recently featured in the prestigious journal “Nature.”

Hill maintains a rigorous research program, using marine and freshwater sponges as model systems to ask questions about the genetics and development of animal evolution and symbioses. As a mentor, she provides students with experiences where they obtain firsthand knowledge of the scientific process from the inception of ideas, development of experiments to test their ideas, analysis of data, and to the writing, revision and publication of manuscripts.

In addition to developing, teaching and continually revising her own set of innovative courses, Hill is also part of a national dialogue on undergraduate curricular reform driven by evidence-based teaching pedagogies. She serves as a national Vision and Change Leadership Fellow of the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Sciences Education and was recently invited to assist HHMI in implementing their new “Inclusive Excellence” grant initiative.

“Dr. Hill is truly an extraordinary educator,” said Kathleen Skerrett, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. “She is a wonderful scientist, and her pursuit of knowledge is always calibrated to enhance scientific capability for the next generation.”

“Dr. April Hill is an exceptional educator who engages students in developing a passion for discovering answers to unsolved problems in science, and she makes a genuine investment in each and every student,” added Linda Boland, chair of the Biology Department at the University of Richmond.

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