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Susan_RiechertA leading UT expert on spiders who has worked to make science education more accessible to public school students has received a top award from the Southeastern Conference.

Susan Riechert was honored with the 2016 SEC Faculty Achievement Award, the SEC announced today. She is the Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The SEC award recognizes professors from the fourteen Southeastern Conference schools with outstanding records in teaching and scholarship. Honorees from each university receive a $5,000 honorarium and become their university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year award. The SEC Professor of the Year will be named in April. He or she will receive an additional $15,000 honorarium and will be recognized at an SEC Awards Dinner.

“The SEC is honored to support the scholarship and research of these fourteen men and women, who represent nearly 14,000 full-time tenured professors in the SEC,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “We appreciate all they have done to empower and encourage students to make a difference, and to positively showcase the Southeastern Conference within the region and around the world.”

Riechert’s research focuses on the evolution of aggressiveness and body size in the desert spider Agelenopsis aperta. She also researches the social behaviors of spider species. She is a former president of the American Arachnological Society. She also is a former president and current fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. Additionally, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As a scientist, Riechert wants to share the spirit of discovery with students of all ages. More than ten years ago, she established Biology in a Box, an outreach science program that shares the wonders of nature and mathematics with K-12 students in 108 school systems in Appalachia.

She also co-developed VolsTeach, an initiative that aims to help improve the quantity and quality of mathematics and science teachers in Tennessee. She is currently the co-director.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,