Alex Niemiera, Ph.D.
Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Excellence in Teaching Award by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech
The award, presented by the center to approximately nine Virginia Tech faculty members each academic year, recognizes a faculty member's effective, engaged, and dynamic approaches and achievements as an educator.
Among the goals of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are advancing experiential learning at Virginia Tech and improving student learning through research-based instructional practices and student-centered design. According to Niemiera, his approach to teaching ultimately comes down to “realizing what course information best serves the students.”
When asked to recall his most memorable and meaningful moment as a teacher, Niemiera said, “getting feedback from students that I have made a positive impact on their life.” He also recalled being awarded the William E. Wine Award for excellence in teaching in 2016.
Michael Montoya, a former student, said this about Niemiera: “Dr. Alex Niemiera's love for horticulture is infectious and inspires his students. His support for his students outside the classroom is tremendous by helping his students with job opportunities, scholarships and careers. I am really grateful for the relationship I have with him as he helped me navigate through my career in horticulture.”
Another former student, Forrest Brown, described Niemiera as “a dedicated and impactful professor who shows unwavering empathy and patience with his students.” Brown also commented on how Niemiera’s “positive and upbeat manner, and his creatively concise style of teaching makes his classes enjoyable and one of a kind.”
In addition to the achievements noted above, Nieimiera served as the Assistant Dean of Student Programs for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for five years. During spring 2021, Niemiera also developed a course titled, “Cannabis - Science, Industry, & Culture.” According to Niemiera, this course provided an overview of “the interesting and often contentious aspects of Cannabis use” to over 500 students.
Niemiera provided the following advice for new college teachers: “Carefully select course information and present in an entertaining fashion.”