Zhange Ni, an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Culture in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has received the university’s 2016 Diggs Teaching Scholars Award.

Sponsored by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research, the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to up to three Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment. Diggs Teaching Scholars are invited to lead the Diggs Roundtable, a series of presentations and a discussion of their innovative teaching.

The award is supported by an endowed fund from an estate gift by the late Edward S. and Hattie Wilson Diggs. Edward Diggs was a 1914 graduate of Virginia Tech.

Ni will use her Diggs Teaching Scholar Award to organize a student conference, “Making Monsters,” in the spring of 2017. “Making Monsters” will serve as a forum for discussion on the exploration of the fiction and reality of monsters in relation to the cultural divide between the humanities and social sciences on one side and science and engineering on the other.

“Her plans for a student conference devoted to the compelling, relevant, yet ever-emerging issue of the monsters we ourselves manufacture not only draws upon her current course on Posthuman Bodies, but also invites collaboration with colleagues across the college and the university, thus magnifying the impact of her innovative and engaging teaching,” wrote Brian Britt, a professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Culture, and Michael Saffle, a professor and chair of the Department of Religion and Culture Honorifics Committee, in a nomination letter.

Ni’s principal area of focus revolves around religion and literature, particularly in Asia. She is an expert on Chinese and Japanese sacred and secular languages, literatures, and traditions.

Ni has made numerous contributions to the Department of Religion and Culture during her time at Virginia Tech. She teaches at both the introductory and advanced levels, co-created a course on the religions and cultures of Asia, and team-taught Religion and Conflict: Trans-Regional Perspectives as part of ASPECT, the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental doctoral program in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.