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George M. Simmons

Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

Born: 1942, Charleston, South Carolina

  • Early education: North Carolina Public School system graduating from Newton Conover High School in 1960
  • 1964 B.S. Biology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
  • 1968 Ph.D. Limnology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (later Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University), Blacksburg, VA.

Simmons served as Assistant Professor of Biology at Virginia Commonwealth University (1968-1971). He joined the Biology Department at Virginia Tech in the fall of 1971.

For 34 years Simmons and his students pursued their interests in aquatic ecology/limnology which included lakes in Virginia and other locations as remote as Antarctica. He and his students also studied groundwater discharge into offshore environments of the continental shelf and coastal waters of Chesapeake Bay, VA and Key Largo, FL. More recently, his research focused on non-point sources of fecal coliform bacteria in the Chesapeake Bay. Simmons taught Freshman Biology for nonscience majors for over 30 years at Virginia Tech, as well as, Limnology, Aquatic Ecology, Marine Biology, and Freshman Seminar. He earned numerous teaching awards, including the Sporn Award (1979). He also was a member of the Academy of Teaching Excellence, served as its Chairperson from 1981-82 and was a charter member of the University's Academy of Advising Excellence (2001). In 1992, he received the Excellence in Career Advising Award. Simmons also became a member of the Explorer's Club in 1987 as a result of his Antarctic studies in freshwater lakes. During his career, he served as Assistant Professor of Zoology (1971-1974), Associate Professor of Zoology (1974-1983), Professor (1983-92), and Alumni Distinguished Professor from 1992 until his retirement in 2003. He also served two terms as an Interim Department Head and served as an assistant to three Heads of the Department from 1971-2003. Simmons officially retired in 2003, but he continued to teach and advise students until 2014.

In retirement, Simmons maintains his interests in canoeing and outdoor photography.