Graduate School Outstanding Mentoring Award, 2015

The University of Georgia Graduate School has honored two members of the graduate faculty at the University of Georgia with its Outstanding Mentoring Award, which recognizes excellence in a variety of mentoring functions.

The 2015 Outstanding Mentoring Award recipients are the following UGA graduate faculty:

Barbara A. Biesecker, Professor and Head of the Department of Communication Studies, was selected to receive the Outstanding Mentoring Award in the Humanities and Fine/Applied Arts category. Dr. Biesecker strives to assist each individual grow “into his or her best intellectual and professional self” and instills in them the appreciation of a collaborative professional community where students learn through the exchange of ideas. In addition to leading the first semester course concerning professionalization in the discipline, Dr. Biesecker provides regular opportunities for students to develop professional skills and participate in scholarly activities by organizing graduate conference panels, facilitating an advisee writing group, and assisting students in receiving editorial assistantships and membership on editorial boards. Her students applaud her as a “person of optimism and conviction” whose mentorship cultivates excellence in her student’s leadership and service achievements.


Lisa Donovan, Distinguished Research Professor and Head of the Department of Plant Biology, was selected to receive the Outstanding Mentoring Award in the Life and Physical Sciences category. Dr. Donovan endeavors to create “mutually beneficial interactions” which contribute to the lab’s research productivity and build useful skills in the students. Recognizing a need, she initiated a grant-writing seminar for students interested in writing National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants. She also encourages students to apply for external funding, organizes internal peer-review panels, prepares them to mentor their own students in coming years, and assists them in gaining teaching experience. The students credit her with helping them keep perspective during the graduate years, expressing that she is a “respectful, open-minded person with a passion with helping her students.”

This student-driven award acknowledges and rewards innovation and effectiveness in mentoring graduate students during their educational experience. Recipients of the award are honored for their excellence in research guidance, positive impact on students individually and as a group, and assistance in career decision-making and advancement. Two awards are given each year to current members of the Graduate Faculty. Awards in Professional/Applied Sciences and Social/Behavioral Sciences are given even years. Awards in Humanities/Fine & Applied Arts and Life/Physical Sciences are given in odd years.


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