University Park, Pa. -- Gabriella Varga, professor of animal science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, has been selected to receive the college's 2009 Excellence in Academic Advising Award.
Sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society, the award recognizes faculty members for overall effectiveness in student advising, individual student goal-setting and career planning, and personal counseling. Candidates are recommended for the honor by students, faculty, administrators and alumni.
An adviser for animal sciences and animal bioscience majors, Varga advises as many as 16 undergraduate students per year. During her career at Penn State, she also has mentored 16 graduate students.
In addition to advising, she offers opportunities for undergraduates to become involved in research. To date, she has mentored 32 student researchers, several of whom have gone on to veterinary, graduate or medical school. Twelve of her students have participated in the university's Undergraduate Research Exhibition, and eight of those received monetary awards in recognition of their research.
During the last five years, Varga has helped advise the Penn State Dairy Challenge team. In two of the past three years, the team has won the first-place platinum award in Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge competitions.
Varga also is involved in the Women in Science and Engineering Research (WISER) program, which demonstrates her ability to work effectively with students from different backgrounds.
"Her dedication to teaching, advising knowledge, willingness to help and caring heart make her the perfect recipient for this award," said student advisee Emily Wolfe. "She wants her students to succeed in life and to become all that they can be. I know that I can go to Dr. Varga for sound advice, and she will make time to listen to my concerns."
Lisa Holden, associate professor of dairy and animal science, said Varga's concern for students sets her apart. "What makes Gabriella an exceptional advisor is her depth of caring for the well-being of students that goes beyond their transcripts, training or future plans," she said. "She connects with students on a personal level."