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Delaware Tech’s Dr. Virginia Balke Honored as Educator of the Year

STANTON and WILMINGTON - Dr. Virginia Balke, a Delaware Tech biology and biotechnology professor, has been selected as the higher education Educator of the Year by the Delaware BioScience Association. She will be honored at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, at the Delaware Bio Annual Awards Gala, the premiere bioscience event in Delaware. Each year, this event attracts 300 leaders from more than 100 organizations. Dr. Balke was recognized for her contributions to promoting undergraduate research at the community college level.

“Dr. Balke has done an extraordinary job expanding Delaware Technical Community College’s reach in the community by working to cultivate students’ interests in life science research,” said Bob Dayton, president of the Delaware BioScience Association.

Dr. Balke started an undergraduate research program at Delaware Tech in 2008, with the formation of the BioChem Club, as well as collaborations with faculty from four-year institutions. Research results have been presented and department and external poster sessions, including the National Conference for Undergraduate Research 2013 in Wisconsin. These projects have also been incorporated into the biology and biotechnology courses through case studies and laboratories. Dr. Balke is also active in the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI), an organization that seeks to promote research programs such as the one at Delaware Tech.

“Dr. Virginia Balke has sparked excitement about undergraduate research in community college students at Delaware Tech,” said Dr. Kathy Janvier, Dean of Instruction at Delaware Tech’s Stanton and Wilmington Campus. “Her students at the Stanton Campus are engaged in collaborative efforts with scientists and other students at Delaware State University in studies using DNA barcoding and other methods to study soil microbes. The Stanton Campus laboratories are busy with students engaged in undergraduate research projects on Friday afternoons. Student commitment and enthusiasm for scientific research is a direct result of Dr. Balke's tireless dedication to community college students and their involvement in undergraduate research.”