The Outstanding Mentoring Award is presented to Graduate Program Faculty members at the University of Georgia who have demonstrated excellence in mentoring graduate students. This award recognizes innovation and effectiveness in mentoring graduate students individually and as a group in their academic, research, and professional development. In 2021, two awards are presented, one in the Humanities and Fine/Applied Arts and one in the Life and Physical Sciences.
Dr. Todd Harrop
Professor of Chemistry | Graduate School Outstanding Mentoring Award in the Life and Physical Sciences
Dr. Harrop teaches his students not to underestimate their abilities and to acknowledge their achievements. As a first-generation college student himself, he has the experience and knowledge to help students with similar backgrounds to adjust and grow in graduate school. He focuses on each of his students as individuals, helping them identify strengths and weaknesses, tailoring his guidance to their backgrounds, experiences, and aspirations, and pushing them in constructive ways when needed “to be the best version of ourselves.” He knows that “excellence can manifest in many ways.”
Dr. Harrop fosters a welcoming environment in which students have the freedom to explore new ideas, become independent thinkers, and also work collaboratively and creatively in ways to help them grow into their science identity. He trains the members of his research group to think critically about the questions asked, use the literature to support their findings, and communicate their research effectively, “developing scientific curiosity, productivity, and overall enthusiasm for learning.”
His mentoring strategy is to provide the appropriate balance of hands-on guidance and individual effort, shifting as students develop into independent researchers. While preparing current students for their careers, Dr. Harrop continues to mentor graduates as they make and change their career paths. One student wrote, “he provides incredible mentorship, feedback, and guidance, which helps his current and former students succeed, while in his group and when taking on new challenges after UGA.”
Dr. Barbara McCaskill
Professor of English | Graduate School Outstanding Mentoring Award in the Humanities and Fine Arts.
Dr. McCaskill is recognized as an incredibly driven and organized faculty member who enjoys working with and helping her students, taking the time to learn about their academic strengths and shaping them into engaged scholars and human beings. She encourages her students to seek the opportunities that will advance their interests and professional goals. Her efforts have not only helped transform the graduate experience for students, but also shaped their identities as scholars. One student wrote that “encouraging me to think about life after graduate school in the earliest stages, [she] has empowered me to fully and seriously explore my interests while developing my own unique skill set.”
She works collaboratively with her students as co-researchers and co-authors. She often brings together students from different departments to conduct research, write scholarly publications, and organize conferences. Her positive impact is visible in her students’ presentations at national and international conferences, published articles and books, curated museum exhibits, and national grant awards.
In addition to mentoring students at UGA, Dr. McCaskill provides mentorship to postdoctoral emerging scholars at other institutions as well being “deeply influential in the literary community.” In a testament to this award, one student wrote that her mentorship has inspired their own development as a mentor and a model of whom they want to become, “seeking to emulate the values of scholarship and mentorship that she ceaselessly models.”