In September, CTSI’s Research Education, Training, and Career Development Core (CTSI-Ed) recognized two outstanding mentors as Mentors of the Year during the annual Poster Session.
Mentor of the Year: Jayne Fulkerson, PhD
Outstanding Junior Mentor: Glenn Simmons, Jr., PhD
Mentees and colleagues nominated mentors, who were evaluated based on their research guidance, motivational skills, insight to career development, training record, and their personal research accomplishments.
Mentorship is a key component of CTSI’s training approach, as seven of its research career development programs pair scholars with a research mentor or mentors. Mentors provide students, trainees, and junior faculty with dedicated guidance and support.
2020 Mentor of the Year: Jayne Fulkerson, PhD
Dr. Fulkerson is a Professor in the School of Nursing. Her work focuses on family-based health promotion, particularly interventions that aim to reduce childhood obesity by actively engaging the whole family in promoting healthful behaviors in the home. She considers research mentorship of students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career faculty one of her key roles at the University of Minnesota, nationally and abroad. She serves on numerous committees and programs as a leader and faculty mentor including CTSI’s own Translational Research and Career Training (TRACT) TL1 and Translational Research Development Program (TRDP) Programs.
Dr. Fulkerson was described as someone who was respected and approachable, leading those around her to seek her formal and informal mentorship throughout her career. One of her strongest skills, which mentees often sought her expertise on, is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Dr. Fulkerson’s mentorship continues with mentees through multiple life and career stages.
Excerpts from Dr. Fulkerson’s nominations
“Dr. Fulkerson puts significant effort into knowing her mentees’ strengths and weaknesses and encourages learning opportunities that suit their needs.”
“She recently added me as a co-investigator to her NIH-funded research study to support my transition into an independent researcher. It is not an exaggeration to say her endless support and advocacy has enabled my career growth.”
“Dr. Fulkerson is a conscientious scholar. She has a steadfast commitment to obesity and diabetes prevention as well as child and family health promotion. As her Research Assistant, I have witnessed first-hand the positive impacts that her research has on individuals, families, and communities alike.”
“I have observed Jayne intentionally and effectively integrate junior faculty into her program of research to develop research skills, guide career development, and create opportunities for manuscript and grant contributions that support career trajectory. This has contributed to a broader culture of a collaborative team science within the School of Nursing.”
“I have had many intimate conversations with her on navigating the Ivory Tower, but most notably, she has been a sounding board and literally a shoulder to cry on when the social pressures of being a Black woman in academia coupled with the racial injustices of this world became too much for me to handle. Jayne empathized and supported, which is exactly what I needed.”
Outstanding Junior Mentor: Glenn Simmons Jr., PhD
Dr. Glenn Simmons, Jr., is an Assistant Professor in the Medical School’s Department of Biomedical Sciences on the Duluth campus. His research focuses on cancer and cancer health disparities. He pays special attention to training underrepresented students and building the capacity of underserved and underrepresented communities. Dr. Simmons stays engaged with the scientific community through committee service and community engagement.
Mentees and a colleague describe Dr. Simmons as an attentive mentor who brings each mentee a specialized experience. Nominators described his openness, availability, and approachability, as well as his carefully considered advice for mentees based on their individual goals.
Excerpts from Dr. Simmons’s nominations
“Dr. Simmons treats all of his mentees with respect and he is very enthusiastic about our projects, growth, and contributions.”
“With Dr. Simmons, I feel like a colleague. With his guidance, I have had the ability to take charge of my experience and I have become more confident in tailoring it to fit my needs as a student and a researcher.”
“In Dr. Simmons’s research team, I am not afraid to make mistakes. I have learned how to take on more constructive criticism of my work, and I know that my abilities have improved because of that.”
“Dr. Simmons is himself an outstanding and enthusiastic role model of how science is conducted and he models the highest ethical standards for students and colleagues.”