2011 Faculty Mentoring Awards: Joe BelBruno

On May 4, 2011 by Grad Forum

The Graduate Student Council and the Office of Graduate Studies are pleased to announce that Professor Joseph BelBruno is a recipient of the 2011 Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award. The Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award is awarded annually to members of the Dartmouth faculty who exemplify a deep commitment to fostering the professional and personal development of graduate students.

One of this year’s two recipients, Joseph BelBruno is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Director of the Center for Nanomaterials Research at Dartmouth.  His research deals with the study of computational chemistry that is focused on the materials as well as the chemistry of the production process.

BelBruno’s dedication to the scientific and personal development of each student in his lab is unparalleled.  In the numerous letters recommending him for the Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award, a common theme of advisement extending far beyond the lab arose.

According to several of BelBruno’s students, it is his unwavering encouragement and compassion that helps to set him apart. “Joe doesn’t forget that students are humans who can become discouraged and overwhelmed,” notes April Daigle, a graduate student in chemistry.  “He doesn’t focus exclusively on the research problem at hand, but remembers the person with motivating warmth and affirmation.”

Similarly, BelBruno’s reputation as an accessible mentor who encourages students to develop interests outside the lab fosters a positive environment of openness and creativity.  Many of Professor BelBruno’s students spoke of his help in applying to academic conferences, job searching, and cultivating individual research interests.

“From the genesis of my project, he gave me a unique opportunity to choose and shape my research,” says graduate student and BelBruno-advisee Sadik Antwi-Boampong.  “I feel an incredible sense of ownership and pride in the work that I do for him.”

For his students, BelBruno’s mentorship extends beyond their time at Dartmouth. Sara Campbell, a recent alum who completed her doctorate in chemistry in 2009, continues to refer to Professor BelBruno for advice.  Campbell recalls BelBruno’s encouragement of her attendance at seminars and teaching workshops while she was a graduate student, as well as his advocating that she take classes outside of her immediate research area.

“He aided my transition from a dependent to independent researcher, guiding me into becoming a better scientist,” says Campbell.  “He was deeply committed to helping prepare me not only to be a successful graduate student, but for my future as well.”

As evidenced by the letter of recommendation submitted on his behalf, for so many of Joe BelBruno’s students, his guidance goes above and beyond the normal expectations of an advisor.  Yuan Liu, a second-year graduate student in chemistry, stressed BelBruno’s ability to inspire students to meet their potential.

“There is an old Chinese phrase from Confucius: ‘A fine mentor should be a helpful friend, too,’” says Liu.  “Joe is definitely both for me.”

Learn more about past Faculty Mentoring Award Winners.


by Erin O’Flaherty

photo by Wes Whitaker

photo: April Daigle and Dr. BelBruno

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