Scholars earn 2022 Maria Lastra Excellence in Mentoring awards

Graduate student Adarsh Suresh (Liu Group and Rowan Group) and postdoctoral scholar Zhongyang Wang (Nealey Group and Patel Group) have earned the 2022 Maria Lastra Excellence in Mentoring Award for their service as exemplary and effective mentors during the academic year.

With the award, the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) recognizes the mentor’s contributions made toward mentee’s personal, professional, and academic growth.

“I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities that the PME, my home away from home, has given me to mentor phenomenal students,” said Suresh. “I would like to thank Laura Rico-Beck, assistant dean for education and outreach, for her incredible mentorship and unwavering support. She has exposed me to many outreach opportunities and nurtured my passion for teaching and mentoring.”

“In mentorship, I aim to build my mentees’ confidence through training and fostering feelings of self-motivation, self-assurance, and independence,” said Wang. “I want to thank my advisors, Profs. Paul Nealey and Shrayesh Patel, who provide constructive and selfless mentorship and reinforce a collaborative atmosphere.”

This year 51 nominations were submitted for 21 individuals, representing 17 different research laboratories. A review committee composed of faculty, staff, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars chose the award recipients through a double-blind process.

The Maria Lastra Excellence in Mentoring Award was endowed by Juan de Pablo, executive vice president for science, innovation, national laboratories, and global initiatives; Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, and senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, in honor of his mother. The awards are presented annually.

“Mentoring is important because it has the ability to nurture new passions and create exciting and potentially life-altering opportunities for younger students,” said Suresh. “I strive to cultivate an inclusive and supportive, yet challenging learning environment where my students are encouraged to ask questions, take risks, and learn through trial and failure.”

In addition to the Maria Lastra award, PME offers mentoring resources and opportunities, including its graduate student mentor training series, a PME and Biological Sciences Division postdoctoral mentor training series, and a graduate student peer mentoring program, in addition to a range of research mentoring opportunities to support the development and practice of research mentoring skills.

Honorable mentions were also given to postdoctoral scholars Junyu Liu (Jiang Group) and Adil Mohamed (Chevrier Lab).