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Spring 2024 Student Awards and Recognition

School of Animal Sciences Outstanding Senior - Animal & Poultry Sciences and

The Randolph L. Grayson CALS Diversity Scholar Award

Student with short, dark hair smiling toward the camera.

Alex Solomon was selected as the 2024 recipient of the School of Animal Sciences Award, as well as the Randolph L. Grayson Outstanding CALS Diversity Scholar Award.

The Diversity and Inclusion Service Award was established in 2006 to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of faculty, staff, and students who exemplify excellence in advancing the CALS mission of promoting diversity and inclusion.

His nominator highlighted Alex’s impact in the School of Animal Sciences with his leadership on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Council. Alex’s advocacy, efforts, and leadership have enhanced the council's activities and provided a framework to solidify the school's goal of forming a sense of belonging for ALL students. Alex served as a peer mentor for the APSC FYE course and helped to recruit diverse students to CALS.
His demonstrated leadership, commitment, and dedication to improving the climate and culture of CALS and the broader community are commendable.

  • Outstanding Student Award – Virginia Tech’s Black Male Excellence Network (BMEN).
  • Impact Award - Virginia Tech Interfraternity Council 2021-2022 – Recognition for HIV Testing Drive. Delta Lambda Phi
  • Inclusive VT Award –Virginia Tech Interfraternity Council 2021-2022 – Recognized for diversity initiatives Delta Lambda Phi
  • Outstanding Visual Performer Award – Virginia Tech’s Tau Beta Sigma. Awarded to students who excel in visual movement performance
  • Outstanding Presentation in Microbiology Award – Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS), November 2023.
  • American Society of Animal Sciences Achievement Award – Awarded to students in the top 10% of their class and major. Featured in Journal of Animal Sciences December 2021 Issue, Fall 2021.
  • Dean’s List: Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023
    Delta Lambda Phi – Diversity Chair, Academic Chair
  • Virginia Tech Undergraduate Academic Integrity Honor Court – Panel Member
  • Virginia Tech, Black Students in STEM – Member

School of Animal Sciences Outstanding Senior - Dairy Science

Student with short, dark hair and wearing a suit and tie smiling toward the camera..

Jack Hammock, who was named the DASC Outstanding Senior, intends to jump right back into his family farm after graduation.

"I plan to return to my family's third generation dairy operation where we milk 850 Holstein cows three times a day. I plan to expand the business alongside my brother and cousins by accepting the positions of herd manager and financial manager for the operation. Within a few years, I hope to grow the size of the herd to about 1,400 milking cows while continuing to preserve the dairy industry with high quality milk production and standards."

Growing up, Jack was always a Hokie fan, and he chose VT for our dairy science program. It's great to see how that experience came back around for him to complete his degree and return home.  

CALS Comeback Award - Derrick Spangler

Student wearing a suit, smiling in a sheep field.

A Beef and Sheep Production student in the School of Animal Sciences with a minor in Agribusiness,  Derrick is the recipient CALS Comeback Award for demonstrating tremendous grit and perseverance to overcome adversity.

He is a first-generation college student, and has found great value in learning new ways to tackle involved concepts in his time here.

"I am the first in my family to obtain a Bachelors. I have always been highly inquisitive, but now I have the tools to understand more of what's going on around me. Researching or understanding any area of study I encounter has become easier. One of my best friends told me when we were teenagers, I'd be great at breaking anything down into layman's terms, after this experience, I am confident of that statement."

He has come full circle from Making the Best Better with Virginia 4-H to serving others by keeping Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) in mind!

"I think you could define my entire character with two powerful words, Ut Prosim. Growing up my family was heavy into 4-H, of which, I am a 3rd generation 4-H All Star. Their motto is "To Make the Best Better" and I think of that every time I hit the road. How can I fix this, How can I fix that, my brain is constantly going. I admire the faculty and staff here at Virginia Tech for exemplifying what it means to be driven to succeed. The professors signed up to teach, some with all out performances, and some with incredible understanding. You could not ask for better staff, eager to guide you where you need to go, they seem to always have an answer when I needed help. That's Ut Prosim."

CALS Outstanding Ambassador Award - Gabriella Doering

Student with long hair smiling toward the camera. Foliage and blooms in the background.

Gabriella Doering, a new graduate of the School of Animal Sciences and recipient of the CALS Outstanding Ambassador Award for outstanding service to the college!

Gabriella found that her educators here made a profound impact on her. Through the guidance of these mentors, she was able to find the path that best fit her goals, and is set up to succeed on her next journey.

"I am incredibly thankful to Dr. Erica Feuerbacher and Dr. Lisa Gunter for teaching me animal behavior and training through the Pat Stuart internship program and OMALS, the Online Master of Agriculture & Life Sciences graduate program. I was privileged to train horses and companion animals while working with other behaviorists and professional trainers. Through this internship, I found my passion for animal behavior, welfare, and training, leading me to work in the Applied Animal Behavior & Welfare Lab at Virginia Tech with Dr. Feuerbacher and Dr. Gunter. I have spent the past three years as a research assistant for the lab where they have continued to mentor me and improve my behavioral skills. I look forward to applying this training and knowledge in veterinary school and daily practice."

Outside of classrooms and internships, Gabriella was able to gain more hands on experience, make friends, and have a great time by joining a club.

"The club that impacted me the most is The Polo Club at Virginia Tech. As a club, we love to spread the sport to the New River Valley and connect with other college programs. As a student run organization we provide for the care/management of our polo ponies when they are with us, providing me with hours of hands on equine experience. I am forever grateful for this amazing community and my close friends made through the club!"

CALS Outstanding Collaborator Award - Isabelle Cang

Smiling student with long dark hair smiling, Hokiestone wall in the background.

Isabelle is the recipient of the 2024 CALS Outstanding Collaborator Award!

Post-graduation plans: Isabelle plans on working at a mixed practice veterinary clinic during her gap year as she prepares to apply to vet school.

“I have learned a lot throughout my time at VT, not only about animal sciences but also about myself. My confidence has grown tremendously as I have accumulated knowledge and experience. I am proud of the wide breadth of experience I have been able to gain throughout my time at VT, from lab animals to equines and other large animals. I have even been able to explore different types of experiences such as working in a research lab, volunteering for community service, and participating in cultural celebrations. If I were to give my freshman self-advice, I would tell her to not be afraid to explore new passions and not to limit herself!”

School of Animal Sciences Outstanding Ph.D. Student - Kayla Farrell

Photo of Kayla Farrell wearing sunglasses against a brick background.

Dr. Kayla Farrell is the School of Animal Sciences Outstanding Ph.D. student.

Under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Tim Jarome, Kayla completed several projects that formed her dissertation, Sex-differences in proteasome-independent roles of the ubiquitin proteasome system in memory formation.

Her efforts led to 22 peer-reviewed publications and positioned her for success with her current employer, Revivicor.


School of Animal Sciences Outstanding M.S. Student - Savannah Gregg

Photo of Savannah Gregg with the ocean in the background. Blue skies with white clouds.

Savannah Gregg is the School of Animal Sciences Outstanding M.S. student.

Savannah coupled her strong intellect with her passion for horses to contribute to our understanding of the post-exercise muscle inflammatory response.  Her engaging personality and strong communication skills allowed her to excel as an advocate for research and extension programs at the MARE Center.  She is currently working as a scientist at the McGuire Research Institute in Richmond.  


Susan Duncan Graduate Teaching Scholar Mentoring Award - Alyssa Lyons

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Alyssa Lyons is the recipient of the Susan Duncan Graduate Teaching Scholar Mentoring Award.

This award is presented annually to a Graduate Teaching Scholars student who has demonstrated outstanding peer/student mentoring, broadly defined as exemplary and effective mentoring of undergraduate and/or new or junior graduate students that significantly contribute to the student’s personal growth, professional development and/or academic success. This award aims to recognize graduate student excellence in such facets of student life and work that benefit other students and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences program. Examples would include outstanding mentoring of a younger cohort by an experienced graduate student, extraordinary research assistance given by one student to others, work done by a graduate student to improve the CALS graduate student body or foster diversity and access for all students.

A Special Thank You to These Graduating School of Animal Science Ambassadors

  • Leah Dabney-Guilbeaux
  • Gabriella (Ella) Doering
  • Sarah Newman
  • Kaylee Rodriguez
  • Elisabeth Wagner