Seven UAB professors from three schools are recipients of the 2009 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentorship.
The award, now in its second 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 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.”
Awards will be presented Friday, April 10 during a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. in the Hill University Center Great Hall. President Carol Garrison will attend.
This year’s recipients include: Graciela S. Alarcon, M.D., Jane Knight Lowe Chair of Medicine in Rheumatology, School of Medicine; Victor Darley-Usmar, Ph.D., professor, School of Medicine and director of the Center for Free Radical Biology; Louis Dell’Italia, M.D., professor, School of Medicine and director of the Coronary Care Unit at the Veterans Administration Hospital; Brian Geiger, Ed.D., professor of Human Studies, School of Education and scientist with the UAB Center for Aging; Ian Knowles, Ph.D., professor of Mathematics, School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics; Lesley Smythies, Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Medicine; Stephen Watts, Ph.D., professor of Biology, School of Natural Sciences & Mathematics.
Honorees will receive an engraved plaque and a bound volume that contains the nomination letters written on their behalf.
For a faculty member to be selected for the award, at least five letters of nomination had to be submitted on their behalf.
The schools with selected faculty are Education, Medicine and Natural Sciences & Mathematics. The nominators were asked to consider personal characteristics, excellence in teaching and communication and mentoring characteristics in considering whom to recommend for the award.
Among the characteristics of an outstanding mentor documented in the nomination letters: ??
• Demonstrates effective leadership skills?
• Is enthusiastic?
• Is respectful?
• Makes difficult information and concepts understandable?
• Welcomes questions and alternative interpretations?
• Believes in the importance of mentoring?
• Provides inspiration and optimism?
• Encourages creative thinking?
• Celebrates trainee successes?
• Serves as a role model.?
The faculty receiving the award this year will not be eligible to be nominated again for at least three years.
Here are some excerpts from the nomination letters on the faculty being recognized:
Dr. Alarcon makes sure that research projects are team projects and involve clinical fellows, study coordinators and biostatisticians working together. She always invited opinions from everyone on how best to conduct the study and to analyze the data. Differences in opinions are always welcomed and even solicited. … The information and knowledge gained under the guidance of Dr. Alarcon will last a lifetime and I am totally certain that will help me to succeed in medical research.
One of the great lessons I learned from watching Lou was the importance of collaboration and cooperation. He never did anything in isolation, and was always quick to ask for help when it was needed. … Dr. Dell’Italia’s tireless work ethic and detailed understanding of relevant subject matter resonated with all members of his laboratory and resulted in a highly motivated group of clinical researchers. I appreciated the clarity with which Dr. Dell’Italia could explain various difficult concepts.
Dr. Geiger is very supportive, understanding and patient. I have also seen his detailed attention and hours of devotion given to the work of my peers and their projects. He fosters progress, encourages academic scholarship as well as service learning and provides thorough feedback. … Dr. Geiger demonstrates expert levels of knowledge, utilizes evidence-based information regarding all decisions and provides compassionate guidance to all students.
Victor possesses an incredible amount of attributes that define him as a mentor. Typical of a superior leader, he has the ability to persuade rather than coerce, and the result is a productive laboratory track record and trainees that are inspired and motivated by their work. … Victor’s approach is holistic, cerebral and detailed. It is clear now that Victor, at the beginning of my studies, had made an accurate assessment of my ability to develop and had set me on a path that would best nurture my latent talents.
Dr. Knowles is the perfect model for a mentor of research level mathematics. He is a highly dedicated professional who knows how to motivate his students to strive for excellence. In lecture and in person, Dr. Knowles is a dynamic and powerful educator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex subjects understandable. … Dr. Knowles is a great teacher who presents material in an understandable and persuasive way and always gives and grades the assignments to help us develop deeper understanding.
Lesley has an infectious enthusiasm that makes you want to go to the lab and start on the newly planned experiments immediately. She maintains an open door policy for everyone in our laboratory and will always try to take the time to answer our questions immediately. … If my experiments don’t seem to work right, she will either help me find a bright spot in it or shares a personal anecdote with me about when she was going through rough times and commiserate to help me feel like I am not alone in struggling with techniques and experiments.
I believe that one of Dr. Watts’ greatest strengths as a mentor in both the laboratory and the classroom is his enthusiasm for science, research and the overall pursuit of knowledge. His love for his work and the subject is absolutely contagious. … As a mentor Dr. Watts was able to sense our strengths and weaknesses and help us reach our full potential. His love and enthusiasm for his work created a great environment for developing as a scientist.