Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring announced

Associate Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Dr. Eric Jan, and Professor in Sociology, Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews, received the Killam Award for Excellence in Mentoring for their passion and dedication to mentoring students to reach their full potential as researchers.

The Killam Awards for Excellence in Mentoring recognize outstanding mentorship of numerous graduate students over many years. The awards are adjudicated by a committee chaired by the Dean and Vice Provost of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The Killam General Endowment at the University of British Columbia (administered by the Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic) provides the funds for the awards.

Dr. Martin-Matthews has mentored over 50 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and was recognized as a senior-level nominee for the award. According to her Department, her record of mentorship shows that “she has transcended the boundaries of this one-on-one style of mentoring to provide students – her own as well as students outside her department and even outside of her university – with broader and more enduring support structures to foster their academic success and their integration into professional networks.”

Her mentoring work has extended far beyond direct graduate student supervision. Dr. Martin-Matthews pioneered many other student-focused initiatives while heading the Institute of Aging of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, including new graduate student funding, education and training activities linked to her creation of the Institute’s Summer Programme in Aging, and awards and prizes to recognize graduate student research excellence in publications and presentations.

Dr. Jan was also praised for his mentoring style. He has been the principal supervisor for 10 graduate students and co-supervisor of five additional graduate students. He has also mentored five postdoctoral fellows.

“Since his recruitment in 2006, Dr. Jan has established an internationally-recognized research program […] His research program is generating ground-breaking discoveries that are uncovering major mechanisms by which viruses impact cells in humans and other species. Importantly, this also provides a superb platform for Dr. Jan to train graduate students, several of whom are now starting their own independent careers,” his Department conveyed in their nomination.

Both Dr. Martin-Matthews and Dr. Jan have been highly praised by their mentees.

“Anne embodies all that it means to be an excellent mentor. She supports and promotes students and staff, she actively listens and is generous with her time and feedback, she creates opportunities for growth and connections and she models integrity, professionalism and a strong commitment to scholarly activities. I am humbled and most grateful to be able to write a letter of support for Anne. There is no one more worthy of this award,” said one of Dr. Martin-Matthews’ mentees.

Dr. Jan’s students say they appreciate their mentor’s active engagement, but also highly value the freedom he provides to develop and explore their own ideas. His own curiosity and excitement about research have been contagious, and his students recount the many ways he has helped them develop the practical skills needed for effective research and communication.

“From the very start of your time in his lab, [Dr. Jan] is fully invested in your success by making himself available to you whenever, spending time in the lab with his students, and ultimately pushing you towards publishing your research. […] One of the most valuable tools I have learnt from him is to be able to approach problems by asking the right questions, which has served me well in many areas outside of academia,” said one of his mentees.

In addition to mentoring graduate students, Dr. Jan has supervised a total of 70 undergraduate students through Directed Studies, Co-op, Summer, Work-Learn and Undergraduate Internships. According to his mentees, Dr. Jan encourages his students to follow their own passions, and actively supports them to achieve their career goals, both within and outside the academy.

Dr. Martin-Matthews researches the provision of health and social care to elderly people, as well as widowhood later in life. Dr. Jan researches virus-host interactions of RNA viruses, specifically virus translation mechanisms and host substrates of enterovirus proteases.

Monday, 04 December 2017