Scholars honored for excellence in mentoring

Graduate students Chris Anderson and Elyse Watkins and postdoctoral scholars Priscilla Briquez and Nick Jackson have earned the Maria Lastra Excellence in Mentoring Award, a new annual award from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) that recognizes exemplary and effective mentors.

Recipients of the new award are chosen based on their contributions to their mentees’ personal growth, professional development, or academic success. Nominations are submitted by the mentees and reviewed by a committee of faculty, postdoctoral scholars, students, and staff with experience in mentoring.

The scholars received their awards, which were endowed by Juan de Pablo, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, at a ceremony on Dec. 12. The award is named in honor of de Pablo’s mother.

“Chris, Priscilla, Nick, and Elyse are truly exemplary mentors,” said Matthew Tirrell, dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. “Mentorship is critically important to PME, and the guidance given by these scholars and others here is crucial for the success of fellow researchers.”

PME has a number of initiatives to help students and scholars develop their mentoring skills, including mentor training workshops for students and postdocs working with visiting summer students, and a PME-BSD joint mentor training program for postdocs. There are also plans for a series of lunches in which mentors can discuss case studies with one another.

“Mentoring is a core competency of successful researchers,” said Laura Rico-Beck, the educational training and outreach coordinator for PME, who served on the review committee. “And it’s really important as part of the mission and vision of an institution to have mentorship training as a central part of what we do.”