Faculty Mentoring Awards 2017

The Faculty Mentoring Award is given annually to a member of the Dartmouth faculty who exemplifies a deep commitment to fostering the professional and personal development of graduate students. This year's recipients are Professor David Glueck, from the department of Chemistry and Yolanda Sanchez, Associate Professor of Molecular and Systems Biology and Associate Director for Basic Sciences, Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “the best mentors are advisors, coaches, counselors and supporters all at the same time. They are experienced scientists who guide your research, but also challenge you to develop your independence. A good mentor will help you define your research goals, and then support you in your quest to achieve them.”

The Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award is presented to faculty who embody the qualities of outstanding mentors, selected from nominations from the community.  The heartfelt letters of support we read during the selection process make this a formidable task. It is clear to all involved that the level and standards of mentoring in the School of Graduate and Advanced Studies demonstrate the high value placed on relationships and knowledge. Thank you to all our faculty for the outstanding work you do in this area.

As we read through the nominations we are offered a window onto those moments that, while on the surface appear mundane and inconsequential, are often the moments the students remember most; the moments that are, in fact, life-changing.

From all the nominations, winners must be chosen, and the recipients of the 2017 Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award are David Glueck, from the department of Chemistry and Yolanda Sanchez from the Geisel School of Medicine.

When we came to interview Professor Glueck on the occasion of the award, he was in deep mentor mode with a student, helping him prepare for a poster presentation. Working with students to help uncover their knowledge is “just part of the job” according to Glueck, who modestly batted away questions about “style” and “philosophy”, believing that the work of a professor is to further the field, and doing so means guiding his students to “make sure they’re doing the right experiments and able to explain them well.”

Exemplary mentoring seems to come naturally to Dave. He is reluctant to admit he is consciously following any particular prescribed theory, and credits his success to the dedication of his students. His alumni are found in tenured positions in academia and in various roles across industry. Their success, states Dave, is “thanks to their hard work, more than anything else”.  But if they were not grateful for the mentoring they received from Dave, they would not keep in touch, which is what many do.

David Glueck grew up in Cincinnati, and received his A.B. and A.M. degrees in chemistry in 1986 from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from Professor R. G. Bergman's group at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990. After working on crown ethers, intercalation, and buckyballs as an NSF-NATO postdoctoral fellow with Professor M. L. H. Green at the Inorganic Chemistry Lab, University of Oxford, he joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1992, and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1998, then to professor in 2004.

Dave cited the enthusiasm and guidance of Bergman at Berkeley and Green during his time at Oxford as points of reference for his own style. Indeed, his nominators agree that it is David’s own “Lab Dad” mentoring that has got them through the hurdles of graduate school. Several commented that thanks to Dave they have felt fully supported in their choices, and their Dartmouth careers have been much more fulfilling as a result.

In addition to stellar research publications and output, David finds time (hours of time) for his students, encouraging them to pursue career goals with the same enthusiasm and patience he uses to explain experiments. As one of his nominators stated, “Dave’s dedication to his students’ success in all aspects of their respective lives is unparalleled.” We agree. Congratulations, Dave!

Yolanda Sanchez is an Associate Professor at the Geisel School of Medicine and Associate Director for Basic Sciences at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. She serves on the steering committee for the Early Phase Trial Clinical Oncology Group and is a member of the Neuro-oncology program of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. She co-directs the SYNERGY Pilot program in Methodology and Technology Innovation for Translational Research (MITRA) with Drs. Anna Tosteson and Richard Enelow, was a member of the NIH Molecular Genetics C study section and has served on numerous NIH panels. She is co-inventor on three patents and two provisional patent applications. She is mother to one daughter, and an outstanding mentor.

When we asked Yoli how she managed to juggle all her different roles, she candidly responded “The truth is you have to learn to find balance. I tell my students they need to set priorities, and some things will fall down that list as they readjust.” In an age when women are demanding more of themselves, and encouraged to “lean in”, the reality is that success in everything all the time is just not possible. And this is a fact she shares with her students. “If we, as scientists, were successful every time we ran an experiment, we would not be doing it right,” she tells us. “Getting it wrong is what science, and life, is all about.”

In the face of challenges, Yoli supports her mentees and encourages them to develop resilience and courage. One nominator noted “Sometimes research is frustrating and it can feel like you are making little progress. {Yoli} has helped me recognize that as long as I am striving to reach the next level, I am making progress.”

Her honesty and dedication is particularly noted by her female nominators, who thrive under her guidance and regard her as an exceptional role model.  “As a strong female scientist in the Dartmouth community,” wrote one, “Yoli serves as an example of what hard work, dedication, and perseverance can help you achieve in a predominantly male field.”

Yoli was born in El Paso Texas and grew up and was educated through preparatory school in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. After graduating from Preparatory School, she spent a year as an exchange student in New Zealand, where she immersed herself in the culture and the English language. She earned a B.S. with Honors from the University of Texas at El Paso, where she fell in love with research.  She carried out most of her predoctoral work at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and her postdoctoral work at Baylor College of Medicine, both in Houston, TX.  In 1998, Yoli and her husband, Craig Tomlinson, moved to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine as faculty, where they carried out research for seven years before coming to the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in 2006.

Yoli was cited by one of her nominators as personifying the qualities of a successful mentor, “she engenders a sense of community throughout the faculty, postdocs, and graduate students, and fosters potential collaborations”. We couldn’t agree more, and are delighted to present her with the Graduate Faculty Mentoring Award.