April Hill University of Richmond biology professor April Hill is the 2017 recipient of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ H. Hiter Harris, Jr. Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.

VFIC says this award recognizes Hill for her “clear and abiding commitment to the craft of classroom teaching, the teaching-learning process and the development of each student as an individual.”

Hill, an evolutionary developmental biologist, teaches at all levels of the undergraduate science curriculum and mentors a large number of undergraduates in research as members of her lab.

She is dedicated to helping increase the number of underserved and minority students in the sciences and to improving STEM experiences for all students. Hill’s efforts helped lead to the creation of the University of Richmond’s Integrated Inclusive Science program.

Hill’s research program, which has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, uses marine and freshwater sponges as model systems to ask questions about the genetics and development of the evolution of animals and symbioses, the living together of two dissimilar organisms. Research in her lab focuses on the role of gene networks that originated prior to the advent of animal adaptations such as tissues and nervous systems.

Hill has been the recipient of several UR teaching awards, including the Distinguished Educator Award, the Advisor Excellence Award and the Outstanding Mentor Award as well as the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award.

Hill was recognized at the VFIC’s annual luncheon Nov. 9.

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The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges is a nonprofit fund-raising partnership supporting the programs and students of 15 leading independent Virginia colleges. The H. Hiter Harris, Jr. Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award was created through an endowment gift from the family of the late Hiter Harris Jr., a leading Virginia banker and a member of VFIC’s board from 1973-98.

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