Fahrni, Spencer, and Zhou are College of Sciences’ 2018 Outstanding Faculty Mentors

Awards recognize efforts and achievements in mentoring other faculty

July 15, 2018

Christoph Fahrni, Chrissy Spencer, and Haomin Zhou are the 2018 recipients of the College of Sciences Faculty Mentor Awards.

The College of Sciences presents the mentoring awards annually to exemplary faculty who help early-career colleagues advance in their careers. The award consists of a certificate and a $500 prize.

“We are thoroughly committed to the success of early-career faculty as they learn how to balance their multiple roles as researchers, teachers, and advisors to their own graduate students and postdoctoral fellows,” says College of Sciences Dean and Sutherland Chair Paul M. Goldbart. “Our outstanding faculty mentors do our academic community a great service. We cannot thank them enough.”

“Our outstanding faculty mentors do our academic community a great service. We cannot thank them enough.”

Christoph J. Fahrni is a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Colleagues appreciate his wise guidance in both their personal and professional lives. His mentorship extends into areas such as child care, home loans, proposal and manuscript writing, managing a research lab, mentoring, and teaching. What distinguishes Fahrni is candor and honesty, as well as his ability to keenly dissect an issue and give multiple perspectives.

“Navigating the many challenges junior faculty encounter when starting their academic careers can be daunting,” Fahrni says. “I feel fortunate that sharing of my own perspective and experience somehow contributes to their success. In the process, we develop lasting relationships that are essential for a supportive, open, and vibrant department and academic community.”

Chrissy Spencer is a senior academic professional in the School of Biological Sciences. Colleagues commend her inclusiveness and keen ability to discover, leverage, and foster the strengths of others. By sharing the rationale behind policies, she promotes best practices while encouraging discovery of new ones to meet the needs of growth and change. She models effective teaching and communication, including seeking feedback and opportunities for collective decision-making.

“I have been so privileged to work on a diverse team of faculty, staff, and students with the common goal to educate from an evidence-based perspective,” Spencer says. “As colleagues join our group, they bring a wealth of energy and ideas to infuse into the biology curriculum and to disseminate to the biology-education literature.”

Haomin Zhou is a professor in the School of Mathematics. Colleagues praise his extraordinary commitment to mentoring junior researchers, including many from underrepresented minority groups. He is an exemplary role model. He welcomes everyone and provides junior faculty from underrepresented groups a real chance for success.

“The School of Mathematics has a tradition in mentoring young faculty members and postdocs, as evidenced by many former recipients of the College of Sciences Faculty Mentors award,” Zhou says. “I am very pleased to continue this tradition. It is a great honor that really belongs to many members of the school.”

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A. Maureen Rouhi, Ph.D. - Director of Communications - College of Sciences