Erica Santana

Erica Santana (’05 B.S. in wildlife science) of Opelika, Ala., received this year’s Outstanding Recent Alumna Award – Undergraduate Degree. Santana, who earned her master’s degree from Auburn University in 2010, currently works as an on-camera scientist host and Web content writer for the website Untamed Science. “I had no idea that anyone had been keeping up with my whereabouts or my accomplishments,” she said. “Receiving the award was a total shock and a very pleasant surprise.”

Before starting graduate school, Santana was a research assistant at the Smithsonian Institute’s Division of Mammals. After completing her master’s, she traveled to the Gulf of Mexico to work with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assist restoration efforts in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “My time at Virginia Tech taught me valuable lessons about the world and my place in it,” Santana said. “My involvement in extra-curricular activities demanded responsibilities beyond my coursework and helped me to develop a sense of obligation for the endeavors I wanted to pursue outside the classroom.”

Guillermo Trincado

Guillermo Trincado (‘06 Ph.D. in forest biometrics) received this year’s Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award – Graduate Degree. Trincado, who also earned a master’s degree in statistics at Virginia Tech, currently works as the director of the forest management institute at Universidad Austral de Chile. “I would like to thank the college for the great opportunities they gave me during the development of my doctoral program in forest biometrics,” he said.

During his time at Virginia Tech, Trincado worked on a modeling system for the dynamics of first-order branches and knot formation in loblolly pine trees. The significance of his work was recognized during the International Union of Forest Research Organizations’ World Congress in 2010, at which he received the Outstanding Doctoral Research Award for his efforts. “The living and learning experience at Virginia Tech has without a doubt been very important for the development of my professional career,” he added.