Paul Knox is a University Distinguished Professor who came to Virginia Tech from the United Kingdom to teach in the Urban Affairs program. His degrees are in Geography and his interests are European urbanization and urbanism and, in particular, the social and architectural history of London. Between 1997 and 2006 he served as Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, since which he has served as Senior Fellow for International Advancement, reporting directly to the university President. This has involved responsibility for the Steger Center for International Scholarship in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, a spell as Interim Director of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, leadership of the planning process that produced the university’s current strategic plan, the establishment of Virginia Tech’s Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience and, now, leading the transition of the honors program to a college.
He is a member of Virginia Tech’s Ut Prosim Society and serves on the editorial board of seven international journals. His most recent books are London: Architecture, Building and Social Change (Merrell, 2015), and Atlas of Cities (Princeton University Press, 2014), which received the Association of American Geographers’ Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography. He is currently writing a book on Greater London, to be published as Metroburbia by Merrell Publishers in 2017.
Paul Knox | Founding Dean
Stephanie "Nikki" Lewis | Assistant Professor
Nikki Lewis is a collegiate assistant professor for the Honors College where she instructs courses on the process of conducting research. She has established connections with the Office of Undergraduate Research and the University Libraries in order to develop courses that walk Honors students through the process of conducting transdisciplinary research. Nikki previously served as director for the Curie Living Learning Community at Virginia Tech, and lead instructor in charge of curriculum development for the Summer Bridge Program. She worked with colleagues to develop innovative active-learning course work from 2013 to 2017, and presented her work at numerous educational conferences. Nikki is also involved in campus initiatives to promote student success through the Office of Inclusion and Diversity.
Nikki earned her doctorate of philosophy degree in Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology in 2013, and spent much of her graduate tenure developing coursework for teaching undergraduates how to participate in the research process. Her experience has led her to participate in two primary avenues of research. She collaborates with the Bevan & Brown Molecular Modeling Lab in the biochemistry department through the Computational Undergraduate Research Education in the Sciences (CURES) program. The group uses computational methods to answer research questions about numerous diseases like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Her second realm of research lies in undergraduate education and the assessment of teaching practices. She has served as co-principal investigator on NSF and NIH grants to promote student success in the sciences.
Nikki is from Newport News, Virginia and earned her bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University. She enjoys cooking and baking with her son, Ayden, and husband, Steve. She is a member of the Roanoke Modern Quilt Guild and enjoys all things crafty.
Hannah Comstock is a Graduate Research Assistant for the Honors College. Most of her job involves filming and putting together videos for the Honors College. These videos showcase the Honors College’s students as they talk about the experiences they have had within the college. She is currently working on getting her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Technologies at Virginia Tech. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Tech in Spring 2017.
Outside of work, Hannah enjoys creating art, most of which focuses on concept art and creature and character design. Her favorite medium is digital painting in Photoshop, however she enjoys working in other digital mediums such as 3D modeling in ZBrush. She can also be found working in traditional mediums such as pen, pencil, watercolor, and ink. Besides art, she enjoys traveling, nature, and video games, all of which inspire the artwork that she makes.
Hannah Comstock | Graduate Research Assistant
Amanda Eagan | Student Life Coordinator, Honors Residential Commons
Amanda Eagan is an A/P Faculty Member as part of the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech. As the Student Life Coordinator, Amanda is a resource for all HRC fellows and works to promote the intellectual growth of the community by working directly with the Honors College and the HRC Faculty Principal. Additionally, she supervises the RA staff and helps to support other student leadership groups, including the Apartment Fellows and Commons Council.
Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Amanda attended Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO, where she earned her B.S. in Emergency Management. Amanda subsequently became a Hokie and received her M.A.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Virginia Tech. She enjoyed her time here so much that she elected to stay post-graduation. The Virginia Tech community has become a second family for Amanda, and she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Before joining the HRC in January 2016, Amanda served as Assistant Student Life Coordinator for the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston. She values working in the residential college environment because of the connections it allows students to make both intellectually and interpersonally. Amanda is inspired by the extraordinary academic and personal motivation of students, faculty, and staff within the HRC to cultivate a community of learners who continually encouraging each other to seek greater understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them.
In her spare time, Amanda enjoys swimming, crafting, baking, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.
Mrs. Tammy Jo Guynn came to the Honors College in August 2005 from Radford University, where she worked in Undergraduate Admissions for eight years. She is dedicated to the higher education system and loves interacting with students.
Mrs. Guynn is a native of Blacksburg where she graduated from Blacksburg High School as a proud BHS Indian. She holds an Associate’s degree in Office Systems Technology with a specialization in Word Processing and an Associate’s degree in Medical Administrative Support Specialization. She continues to expand her education by taking classes when the opportunity presents itself because she believes you’re never too old to learn. Mrs. Guynn likes to travel, is an avid reader, enjoys painting, and spending time with her family.
Tammy Jo Guynn | Honors Operations Manager
Paul Heilker | Faculty Fellow for Curriculum Development
Paul Heilker is an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where he has served as Director of the PhD in Rhetoric and Writing and Director of Composition. He is the author of The Essay: Theory and Pedagogy for an Active Form (NCTE, 1996) and Co-Editor, with Peter Vandenberg, of Keywords in Composition Studies (Heineman, 1996) and Keywords in Writing Studies (Utah State UP, 2015). His scholarship has appeared in such venues as College Composition and Communication, College English, Disability Studies Quarterly, Rhetoric Review, Composition Studies, Writing on the Edge, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, and The Writing Instructor. At Virginia Tech, Heilker is a member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence, having earned both a Certificate of Teaching Excellence and the University Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Introductory Subjects. He does regular outreach to regional schools as a Teaching Consultant for the Blue Ridge Writing Project, a chapter of the National Writing Project.
Central to Heilker’s recent scholarship is the idea that rhetoric is a way of being in the world through language, that discourses and their constituent genres require us to inhabit and enact strikingly different ways of being in the world through their distinctive matrices of invention, structure and style. For instance, traditional western argument forces us to be in the world through sublimated warfare: claiming a position, defending it against attacks, then counter-attacking and defeating the opposition. Heilker believes that we cannot effectively re-imagine the human condition as less violent using the same discursive tools that created our currently hostile conditions, that we cannot bridge our deep disagreements and schismatic worldviews using the same schemas of discourse that constructed today's antagonistic realities. To create a less hostile and violent future, he says, we need less hostile and violent discourses, and we need to teach these alternative ways of being in the world to students.
Amy Ingram is the Honors Support Specialist. Ms. Ingram’s administrative role maintains the inner-workings of the Honors College from making sure that each member of the honors staff is well trained and in compliance with university policies to maintaining a safe working environment. In her work as a liaison to students, Ms. Ingram is responsible for managing and processing forms that students submit to request honors credit. She also oversees the main honors e-mail account, email@example.com.
A native of Dublin, Virginia, Ms. Ingram holds an Associate's degree in marketing with a specialization in Graphic Design from New River Community College. Ms. Ingram enjoys travelling and working to support and get to know honors students.
Amy Ingram | Honors Support Specialist
Leigh-Anne Krometis | Preceptor and Program Director, Hillcrest Community
Leigh-Anne Krometis is an Associate Professor in Biological Systems Engineering. In 1999, while working towards her undergraduate degree in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, Leigh-Anne moved into Hillcrest Hall as one of the founding members of the university’s first Honors residential community. She earned both her BS and MS from Virginia Tech, and her PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since returning to Virginia Tech as faculty in 2009, Leigh-Anne has been involved as a Senior Fellow within the Honors Residential Commons. She is excited to return to her original academic home of Hillcrest to engage regularly with Honors students.
Leigh-Anne’s research interests center on environmental health and the prevention of waterborne disease, particularly in rural communities within the Appalachian Coalfields. Her work has received both local and national attention; she received the 2014 College of Engineering Dean's Award for Outstanding New Assistant Professor, was named the 2015 Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science’s Researcher of the Year, and received the AW Farrall Young Educator Award from the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers in 2017.
Beyond campus, Leigh-Anne enjoys playing with her sons Linus and Leo, yoga, hiking, and relaxing with a book and her four cats.
Alyssa Lentz is the Honors Assistant and the first point of contact for the Honors College offices. Most of her job involves providing information for prospective students and guiding current students on how to incorporate honors into their college experience. She also enjoys managing the social media presence of the Honors College.
Alyssa has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Virginia Tech and a minor in Communication. She is a recent graduate of the Honors College and a four-year resident of the Honors Residential Commons. Her favorite parts of her college career include her study abroad in London, which helped to inspire her undergraduate research on the way social networking is changing public service media.
In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys working on her writing and traveling with friends. She can usually be found outside, appreciating nature with a book in her hand.
Alyssa Lentz | Honors Assistant
Christina McIntyre | Director of Major Scholarships
Christina McIntyre is the Director of Major Scholarships for the Honors College. She oversees the process for many awards, both national and unique to Honors. Christina has helped shape honors scholarships to better prepare students for national-level awards; the Honors Odyssey Fellowships, for example, emulate the application for Fulbright. Christina believes that applying for these scholarships is developmental and inherently valuable, so she encourages Virginia Tech students to take on the challenge.
From 1995 to 2007, Christina worked as a Research Associate, Instructor, Undergraduate Coordinator, and Assistant Department Head for Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. She joined the the Honors College staff as Associate Director in July 2007 and later became Senior Associate Director.
Christina is a member of the National ACademic ADvising Association (NACADA), the National Association of Fellowship Advisors (NAFA), and the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). She serves as co-chair for NCHC’s committee on Major Scholarships and as a committee member for NCHC’s Partners in the Parks, a collaboration with the National Park Service. In 2012, her advising accomplishments were recognized with the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Advising and a certificate of merit from NACADA.
Outside of work, Christina enjoys hiking on the Appalachian Trail, cycling, and swimming.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Chinese proverb
Russell Shrader serves as the Director of Honors Admissions for the Honors College. In this role, he coordinates the entire recruitment and admission process for first-year, transfer, and current Virginia Tech students entering the Honors College.
He first started working for the Honors College in August 2004 as Assistant Director. Through the years, he also has served as Senior Assistant Director and Associate Director, having coordinated the Honors admissions process, recruitment scholarship process, Odyssey Fellowship process, various teaching responsibilities (including time in Switzerland with the Honors Presidential Global Scholars), and organizational responsibilities for the Honors residential communities (Hillcrest and the Honors Residential Commons). He has presented at the National Collegiate Honors Council and Honors Education in Research Universities conferences.
Russell’s interest in college students began several years before he came to Virginia Tech. From 2000-2001, he worked at Concord University as Counselor/Coordinator for the Upward Bound Math/Science Program, which was the only program of its kind in West Virginia. This position allowed him to work with underserved and underrepresented high school student populations in southern West Virginia as they prepared to enter their college years.
Beginning in 2001, Russell worked for three years as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Radford University. While there, he traveled extensively throughout the entire New England region as well as the Hampton Roads, Richmond, Northern Neck, and Shenandoah and Roanoke Valley areas of Virginia. He left Radford in August 2004 to begin his role at Virginia Tech.
Russell hails from Princeton, West Virginia. He graduated from Concord University with a B.S. in biology (pre-med focus), and then earned a master’s degree from Marshall University in biological sciences. His master’s work focused on an ecological vegetation study of the McClintic Wildlife Management Area near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. McClintic Wildlife Management Area was the former TNT manufacturing site during World War II, which was personified in the book and movie The Mothman Prophecies. He also has completed graduate work in Public Administration and Policy.
Russell B. Shrader | Director of Honors Admissions
Melissa McLevain | Residential Learning Coordinator, Hillcrest Community
Melissa McLevain is an A/P Faculty Member as part of the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech. As the Residential Learning Coordinator for Hillcrest Hall, Melissa serves as a resource for students and works to promote community amongst students in Hillcrest. Additionally, Melissa supervises the Resident Advisor (RA) staff in the building and provides leadership for other student leadership groups, including Hillcrest Hall Council.
Melissa has served full-time at Virginia Tech since July 2015. Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Melissa attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky where she earned her B.A. in English and Psychology. Melissa received her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Melissa's professional and research interests include student-faculty interaction, student sense of belonging on campus, and first-generation students.
In her spare time, Melissa enjoys baking, spending time with friends and family, and exploring the area with her dog, Ruby.
Amber Zoe Smith is the Director of Honors Teaching and Learning. She directs the Honors College’s peer education initiatives—which include first-year seminars, reading seminars, and the upcoming Honors Peer Advising Center—and she teaches the honors peer educators. Amber has presented her research on peer education and discussion-based teaching at conferences nationally and internationally. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the European Honors Council and Honors in Higher Education. In addition to peer education, Amber enjoys helping students with writing and connecting them with the arts on campus.
Before coming to Virginia Tech, Amber taught English and tutored writing at George Mason University, and she worked as an editor at Learning Tree International.
Amber has an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. She attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate, where she earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish with a minor in music. She was also a four-year member of the Main Campbell Honors Community.
Outside of work, Amber enjoys playing the cello, swing dancing, and knitting.
Amber Smith | Director of Honors Teaching and Learning
Pablo A. Tarazaga | Faculty Principal, Honors Residential Commons
Pablo A. Tarazaga is an Associate Professor and the John R. Jones Faculty Fellow in the Mechanical Engineering Department and is a Principal Faculty in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. He currently directs the Virginia Tech Smart Infrastructure Laboratory (VTSIL) (http://vtsil.weebly.com ) and the Vibrations, Adaptive Structures and Testing (VAST) Laboratory (http://vastlab.weebly.com). His research focuses on the development of novel and fundamental insights that harness, measure, mitigate and analyze vibrations using complex multi physics modeling, innovative experimental testing and real-world implementations. Applications include large scale building instrumentation for human localization and tracking, security and threat detection, emergency response an evacuation, and smart material applications for fluid structure interaction in drag reduction and non-contact fluid mixing. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Alpha Foundation, Virginia Space Grant Consortium, National Institute of Standard and Technologies, Association of American Railroads, Army, and Engineering Research and Development Center.
He was awarded the 2014 Dean's award for Outstanding New Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech and received the prestigious 2015 Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program Award.
Pablo holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) and a B.S. from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez in Mechanical Engineering. He also carried out his post-doctoral studies at the University of Bristol, England.
Sara Vandyke is the Director of Honors Academic Processes. She is the point person should students have questions about working toward an honors diploma as well as the coordinator for the honors diploma order, which every student must complete in order to declare their honors diploma. In addition, she oversees the annual Progress Survey: a tool that helps students keep track of their honors credit year to year. Sara coordinates several merit scholarship processes, including the Academic Merit Scholarship, the Norrine Bailey Spencer Strong Start Award, the Leslie Geraldine Sherman Memorial Scholarship, the Main Campbell Award, and the Pamplin Scholars Program.
Sara has an MA in Political Science from Virginia Tech. She attended Virginia Tech as an undergraduate student in the Honors College, where she earned a BA in Political Science with a minor in Spanish. Her most valued experience in college was her time spent studying abroad in Great Britain and Europe, where she studied different forms of the parliamentary system of government.
Outside of work, Sara enjoys traveling and doing home improvement projects. She is an avid reader and is usually in the middle of several books at once.
Sara Vandyke | Director of Honors Academic Processes