2014 Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award: Gladfelter and Irwin
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) is proud to present this year’s Graduate Faculty Mentoring Awards to professors Amy Gladfelter and Rebecca Irwin. Each year the GSC recognizes two Dartmouth faculty members for their commitment to fostering the academic and professional pursuits of graduate students. Graduate students nominate faculty advisors for the award, and winners receive $500 to support further mentoring activities. This year the selection committee consisted of the president of the GSC, Lisa Jackson, the GSC secretary, Drew Wong, and one of the GSC social chairs, Erin O’Malley. President Philip Hanlon presented the awards to this year’s recipients at the Graduate Poster Session on Tuesday, April 8.
Amy Gladfelter is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She joined the faculty at Dartmouth in 2006 and currently mentors four graduate students and one postdoctoral research associate. Gladfelter’s research examines cell organization. In particular, her lab is interested in cell division and how a cell manages time and spatial distribution during the process of becoming two cells. This management is important for ensuring accurate cell division. When in a diseased state, cells may not properly regulate division, which has been connected to cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.
In nominating her for this award, graduate students observed that Gladfelter helped them to develop their scientific knowledge and skills including “critical thinking, scientific approaches, experimental designs, objective analyses and interpretation.” An advisee also emphasized the support that she received from Gladfelter in developing her skills as a teacher and seeking teaching opportunities. Students were impressed with Gladfelter’s willingness to dedicate time to all members of her lab, as well as her department. One student observed, “Not only does she spend considerable time and effort advising and helping her own students, but individuals from other labs seek her out for counsel on matters both scientific and personal.” Advisees also noted that Gladfelter encouraged them to not only perform to the best of their abilities in their research, but also to make connections in the wider scientific community and seek outside opportunities, such as conducting research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Recent graduates felt that these outside opportunities and networking connections expanded their knowledge and also facilitated their career search.
Rebecca Irwin is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program. She became a member of the Dartmouth faculty in 2004 and currently mentors four graduate students. Her research explores the interactions between multiple species in biological communities. The Irwin lab is especially interested in studying the relationship between pollinators and their flower hosts, and the invasion of new environments by non-native species. Irwin and her students examine how factors including environmental change and plant interactions with species that harm them, such as herbivores, influence pollination services.
Students who nominated Irwin for the Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award were impressed with her dedication to both their personal and professional development. They noted that she helped them to hone their academic abilities. One student explained, “I have developed significant communication, grantsmanship, mentoring, and writing skills that have allowed me to advance professionally in this field thanks to Dr. Irwin.” Advisees felt that Irwin was adept at providing needed support, while at the same time allowing her students to follow their own paths and take new research directions. According to a recent graduate, while he was working on his thesis research, Irwin was exceptional at “fostering my independence as a scientist, while providing the necessary guidance and support to ensure the success of my thesis.” Graduate students claimed that they planned to use Irwin’s practices as a model in their own future mentoring activities.
Lisa Jackson, president of the GSC, was impressed with the recommendations she and the rest of the selection committee reviewed. “The pool of nominees for this award was most impressive!” Jackson stated. Ultimately, the letters written in support of Gladfelter and Irwin stood out. “Many congratulations to these remarkable professors! They help make Dartmouth a wonderful place to be a graduate student.”
The Graduate Studies Office joins the GSC in congratulating professors Gladfelter and Irwin and thanking them for all they do for Dartmouth graduate students!