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The SoF Outstanding Mentor Award

Congratulations to the 2017 Outstanding Mentor Award Winner:

Keary Engle


The Career and Postdoctoral Services Office and the Scripps California Society of Fellows established the Outstanding Mentor Award to honor the considerable dedication of faculty who consistently and enthusiastically serve as effective mentors to graduate students and postdocs.  The award recipient will be honored with a plaque and $500 in funding to support team building or training efforts in his or her lab.  The awardee will be announced during National Postdoctoral Appreciation Week, September 18-22, 2017.  Previous winners are Drs. Michael OldstoneMG Finn, Ian Wilson, Hollis Cline, Jack Johnson, and Ashok Deniz. Additional information about previous winners is available here.

Nomination criteria: Postdocs and graduate students may nominate any faculty member who has guided and contributed to their personal or professional development through a mutually trusting and respectful relationship. We seek nominations of faculty who:

  • Develop mentees’ research and professional skills
  • Respect and support scholars’ goals
  • Offer valuable career planning and job search assistance
  • Model effective leadership
  • Go beyond expectations of being a group leader and excellent scientist, and demonstrate a long-term commitment to their trainees' development.

Nominations should include the mentor's current CV and letters of recommendation from past or present mentees. 

The nomination form and supplementary materials are due by Friday, August 11, 2017. Please email all nominations to Career Development Chair Michael

Selection process: Nominations will be reviewed by TSRI’s Director of Education, members of the SoF Executive Committee, and the Career and Postdoctoral Services Office. 

Updated re-submissions of prior applications are allowed and encouraged.  With a submitted nomination form, mentors nominated in previous years will be considered.  Nomination materials submitted in previous years are already on file, but submission of additional materials is recommended.  Prior award recipients are not eligible.

The SoF Outstanding Mentor Award - Previous Winners

2011 - M. G. Finn: 

In addition to mentoring more than 60 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows over the years, Prof. Finn was a member of the Academic Advisory Committee at the Kellogg School of Science and Technology, taught graduate classes in Physical Organic Chemistry and Molecular Evolution, and participated in the Scripps Research science outreach programs hosting high school interns every summer in his lab. Endorsements by those recommending him for the award highlighted the many instances in which he had gone out of his way to ensure the well-being of those in his group—including introducing team members to colleagues to facilitate scientific dialog; helping lab members receive coveted job offers through strong letters, emails, and phone calls of support; and continuing to provide help and advice even after individuals had left his lab and moved on to other positions. "With his daily example, he taught me not only science but also the importance of mentoring and how to lead a research team through listening empathically and communicating with everybody..."

2012 - Ian Wilson:I.Wilson
Prof. Wilson has mentored more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows over the years, many of whom now hold top positions in academia and industry around the globe. Moreover, Prof. Wilson served as chair of the curriculum committee for the WASC re-accreditation of the Kellogg School, taught graduate classes, and participated actively in science outreach programs. Prof. Wilson’s recommendation letters emphasized his ability to teach excellence in science, genuine concern for the welfare of his lab members, and active support of lab members’ careers, including making phone calls to personally advocate for current and former lab members pursuing coveted job offers. "I think the single most helpful thing Ian does for his mentees is to instill a higher standard—of thought, background research, experimental design, execution, writing and speaking."

2013 - Hollis Cline:H.Cline
Prof. Cline has mentored more than 40 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, assisting them in finding ways to use their science training in career paths they will enjoy. She remains in touch with many mentees who now work in industry as well as at academic intuitions such as Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, Columbia University, India’s National Centre for Biological Sciences and Australia’s University of Tasmania. In their letters supporting Prof. Cline’s nomination as Outstanding Mentor, current and former postdocs and graduate students praised her scientific skills, emphasis on collaborations and valuable career guidance and support. "One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from my time with Dr. Cline [is that] motivation must always come from within. A woman of great personal drive, Dr. Cline never imposes her motivation or work ethic onto others in the lab and always encourages curiosity and personal initiative."

2014 - Jack Johnson:J.Johnson
Prof. Johnson’s genuine love of science and caring commitment to postdocs and graduate students are hallmarks of the mentoring he has provided to nearly 70 junior scientists over his 40-year career. Found throughout the recommendation letters from current and past mentees, many now themselves research scientists in academia and industry around the world, are words such as "compassionate", "role model", "encouragement" and "patience". Many described their deep gratitude for Johnson’s advocacy and support of their personal career paths. "Generation after generation, Jack has inspired scientists from all over the world. He has taught us to enjoy science and respect each other... Jack stands [out] for his genuine human and intellectual honesty and his intrinsic ability to communicate difficult concepts in simple words."

2015 - Michael Oldstone:M,Oldstone
During his highly distinguished career, Prof. Oldstone has mentored over 80 junior scientists. His recommendation letters repeatedly indicate his exceptional skills as a mentor and genuine interest in the success and well-being of his students. Prof. Oldstone is committed to maximizing his student’s potential and fostering a high level of independence. His former mentees can be found at senior positions throughout industry and academia and attest to continued support and mentorship from Prof. Oldstone well after their departure from his lab. "Michael Oldstone's scientific excellence is paired with a very generous, open, and warm-hearted personality. He is a man with profound knowledge about culture and history reaching the Renaissance ideal of a scientist."

2016 - Ashok Deniz:Ashok Deniz
Prof. Ashok Deniz has mentored over 25 scientists at various career stages, many of whom have advanced to positions in academia or industry. Prof. Deniz attributes much of his success to focusing on his mentees intellectual and career motivations when planning their work in his lab. This dedication to mentoring young scientists has extends outside Prof. Deniz’s lab and is reflected in his involvement in TSRI’s Fellowship Bootcamp, Structural Biology and Biophysics, and Protein Folding in the Cell courses. Numerous recommendation letters from past and present mentees describe Prof. Deniz's genuine interest in their well-being and his effort to create a family environment within the lab. “Overall, Ashok Deniz tries to bring the best out of everyone, which I believe is a clear indication of his care and respect to his mentees’ professional development.”


2017 - Keary Engle:KearyEngle
Despite being one of TSRI’s youngest faculty members, Prof. Engle has demonstrated that he has both a talent and passion for mentoring. Recommendation letters from current graduate students and post-docs, stress that Prof. Engle is a highly encouraging mentor that is invested in the personal success of scientist at all levels both within and outside of his personal research group. Prof. Engle has a simple mentoring philosophy: “I think the role of a mentor is to believe in the people I’m mentoring more than they believe in themselves…”. However, it clearly benefits and is appreciated by his mentees. Prof. Engle is also notable for his efforts to mentor scientists at the earliest stages of their careers, as described by the numerous recommendation letters from both undergraduate students and high school interns. A current post-doc attests that, “It is obvious that Keary does not see being a mentor as a chore, but that he genuinely enjoys it, and being able to encourage the next generation of young scientists in their pursuit of knowledge…”.
Read more about Keary here
Keary lab website