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Outstanding Faculty Awards

Michael Hochella, Jr.

University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences
Virginia Tech

Michael F. Hochella, Jr. has been a member of the Virginia Tech faculty for the past 23 years, and is currently serving as University Distinguished Professor. He obtained his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Virginia Tech in the 1970’s, and completed his Ph.D. at Stanford in 1981. He rose to the rank of Associate Professor (Research) at Stanford before returning to his undergraduate alma mater in 1992.

Dr. Hochella has concentrated his efforts in research, teaching and service throughout his entire career. His research interests (supported by more than $22 million in research funding) center on the environmental science of our planet at local, regional, and global levels. He specializes in the nanoscience of Earth and the nanotechnology that helps us understand Earth. This has resulted in roughly 200 publications that have been cited in the professional literature nearly 10,000 times to date. Concerning instructional activities, Dr. Hochella greatly enjoys teaching at all levels from freshman to advanced graduate students, including several courses that he personally developed. He also led the development of a unique high school curriculum on nanoscience-based environmental science that is now nationally distributed. Among many dozens of service highlights in Dr. Hochella’s career, key service posts include the presidencies of two international scientific societies, as well as serving on high-level advisory boards to the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Accolades to Dr. Hochella include a number of medals, awards and honors including election to Fellowship in eight international scientific societies. He has been hosted as an invited scholar and speaker in 43 of the 50 states in the U.S. and in five Canadian
provinces, as well as 15 other countries around the world (Europe, Far East, Middle East and Africa).

Dr. Hochella has closely advised and mentored over 100 students, each for multiple years, to move them towards the specific careers of their choice. To date, a remarkable 22 of his former graduate students and post-docs are now professors at leading universities in seven countries, while many others hold prominent positions in national laboratories, industry, and scientific publishing.

View Nomination Packet

Michael Hochella, Jr.


"The driver of all that I do really boils down to two things … 1) my very strong sense of curiosity, and 2) a love of happy, healthy, and productive human relationships."