Dr. Virginia Rider, a professor in the Department of Biology, has won many awards in her career. This spring, Ingram’s, a regional business magazine published in Kansas City, selected Rider as an “Icon of Education.”

Rider joined the PSU faculty in 2000 and has developed a reputation not only as an outstanding teacher and respected scientist and researcher, but also as a passionate advocate for students and for undergraduate research. The latter won her recognition as the first winner of the Sidney A. McNairy, Jr. Mentoring Award through the National Institutes of Health. The award, which is given to one professor in the nation every two years, honors faculty for their dedication and focus mentoring students.

“I am committed to the idea that quality undergraduate research experience is the cornerstone for generating educated professionals and plants the seeds from which future scientists arise,” Rider said.

The results bear that out. About 20 PSU students apply to professional schools and graduate programs each year and more than 90 percent of them are accepted on first application. Dozens of former students who were involved in undergraduate research are currently in medical schools, in residencies, doing biomedical research or practicing medicine.

Rider holds a BS and MS from Louisiana Tech University and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University. She has done post-doctoral study at the Institute of Animal Physiology in Cambridge, England, and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Rider Came to PSU from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she was an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Previous to that, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cellular biology at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in Boston.