Fourteen UAB professors from 13 departments are recipients of the 2013 Graduate Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship.
The award, now in its sixth year, recognizes exceptional faculty mentorship and demonstrates that UAB is a university that values the commitment to excellence in mentorship that is exhibited by its faculty, says Bryan D. Noe, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School and creator of the award.
“This award recognizes faculty members who have been outstanding mentors, advisors and role models to the students and trainees with whom they have worked,” Noe says. “We are particularly pleased to see that faculty from different disciplines and departments across campus were nominated for their dedication to assisting students, postdoctoral fellows and other trainees to realize their career goals.”
These recipients were honored in an April 16 ceremony in the Hill University Center Great Hall:
Anupam Agarwal, M.D., professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular genetics, and cell biology, director of the Nephrology Research and Training Center and interim dean of the School of Medicine; David Allison, Ph.D., professor of public health, director of the UAB Nutrition and Obesity Research Center and associate dean for science in the School of Public Health; Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., professor of cell, developmental and integrative biology and director of the Center for Exercise Medicine; Dale Callahan, Ph.D., associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Karen Cropsey, Psy.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurobiology; Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., clinical pharmacist and epidemiologist in neurology; Ludwine Messiaen, Ph.D., professor of clinical genetics; Andrew Pollard, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering; Alan Randich, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of behavioral neuroscience; Jack Rogers, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering; Sadeep Shrestha, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology; Brian Sims, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and cell, developmental and integrative biology; Murat Tanik, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering; Robert Weech-Maldonado, Ph.D., professor and L.R. Jordan Chair of Health Administration in the School of Health Professions.
Honorees received an engraved plaque and a bound volume that contains the nomination letters written on their behalf. For faculty to be selected, at least five letters of nomination had to be submitted. In considering whom to recommend for the award, the nominators were asked to consider personal characteristics, excellence in teaching and communication and mentoring characteristics.
Faculty receiving the award this year will not be eligible to be nominated again for at least five years. “This will help to ensure that as many deserving faculty as possible from across the university can be recognized for serving as outstanding mentors,” Noe says.
These are excerpts from the nomination letters:
“We all know Dr. Agarwal’s professional achievements, but it is his generosity of spirit that truly makes him an incredible mentor. He genuinely cares about each person in his lab. He is quick to identify each person’s strengths and allows them to build upon them. He is able to find a niche for everyone who comes through the lab and fits us all together like a puzzle.”
“His investment in young scientists has fostered a collaborative environment where scientific questions and data take precedence over mere opinion in the pursuit of knowledge. He intentionally strives to cultivate an inquisitive spirit in his mentees, while reinforcing the responsibility of the public trust bestowed on us through our research.”
“He has devoted countless hours to coaching students and fellows in research and professional development. At the same time, he is able to recognize the need for supplementary education outside of his expertise, and encourages mentees to seek the knowledge necessary to fulfill goals.”
“His dedication to our success was very obvious – not just as graduate students, but as individuals. More importantly, Dale understood that we needed to define success in our own terms. He wanted us to find our passion!”
“While she pushes us to excel in our research, Dr. Cropsey reminds all her students that personal investment and time with others are both important as well. She takes the time to demonstrate how personal experiences and interactions can inspire ideas, promote curiosity, and instill values in us that we can integrate into our research interests and clinical aspirations.”
“Her mentoring style is incredible. She does not complete tasks for her mentees, but pushes all of us to find the answers and think through issues. She offers just enough support for me to gain confidence in conducting research, but steps back enough so that I can develop into a confident, independent investigator.”
“Her love and passion for her work is contagious. This attitude inspires and motivates those around her to not only succeed in their endeavors but to be fully committed to continued learning and professional development.”
“Andy was the consummate mentor. His enthusiasm for research motivated my interest in science, and his constant encouragement and support was critical to my dissertation work and to my career development, but what I appreciated the most was his respectful approach to advising, an approach that made our relationship feel less like a student-teacher interaction and more like a true collaboration.”
“To take someone under your wing, to guide them and inspire them and help shape their career is an enormous responsibility. To do it well is nothing short of extraordinary. Alan is that extraordinary mentor.”
“He consistently set a strong example of how to conduct science ethically, and he demonstrated that it is a scientist’s responsibility to encourage others to also pursue careers in science.”
“One of the qualities that I think makes him an excellent mentor is the fact that he has given me complete independence in my choices while directing me to resources that enable me to make an informed decision. He has constantly identified avenues for me to diversify my interests and to work and network with experts from different fields.”
“Dr. Sims constantly motivated us to elevate and exceed our goals. He always remained optimistic and pushed us to never lower our goals when faced with obstacles and difficulties. In the past, when I have thought about quitting or exploring easer roads, Dr. Sims always took the time to sit down and talk to me to help me regain my focus.”
“His passion for scientific research that has inspired every student he has mentored without exception is no match to anyone else’s that I have ever been in direct contact with. Fed by his genuine curiosity for how the universe behaves at the very fundamental level, along with his strong belief in scientific methodology, along with his strong belief in scientific methodology, this passion in return feeds his enthusiasm for interdisciplinary, collaborative scientific research that our institution highly values and his really unique ability to inspire his students and colleagues.”
“Dr. Weech-Maldonado distinguishes himself from other scholars because his extraordinary brilliance and renowned expertise in health services research are combined with incredible humility, outstanding patience, remarkable cultural competence and limitless patience.”