Meet the 2018-19 outstanding faculty mentors

The Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards bring attention to a crucial component of graduate education — the many hours faculty invest in nurturing and developing the academic identities and technical acumen of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars outside the classroom or lab.

Being a mentor is much more than being a professor. A mentor works diligently to guide students through their early years as a student, teaching them the cultural intricacies of their academic colleges and helping them navigate the larger professional and scholarly communities so they can form long-lasting relationships with colleagues. Some mentors also offer socio-emotional support, bolster students’ self-esteem and help them navigate work/life balance. These are no easy tasks.

Every year, the Graduate College recognizes these efforts and awards outstanding graduate faculty for their service in mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at ASU. The 2018-19 awards were presented to Linda Luecken, outstanding doctoral mentor; Anca Delgado, outstanding master’s mentor; Barbara Klimek, outstanding instructional faculty mentor; and Gabriel Q. Shaibi, outstanding postdoctoral mentor.

Deborah Clarke, vice provost for academic personnel, opened the 31st annual Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards ceremony.

“When you’re floundering, surrounded by messages that you’re not good enough, to have somebody step in and tell you, ‘Yes, you are smart,’ and ‘You can do this,’ means more than we can convey. If someone is there for you when you really need it, you never forget it,” Clarke said.

Completing graduate school takes persistence and perseverance. Graduate students often become discouraged, comparing themselves to their peers and suffering from impostor syndrome. A great mentor is able to both teach and inspire students to believe in themselves.

The Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards reception is a great venue for recognition and also serves as a mirror in which faculty can reflect upon their own mentoring philosophies and learn from others. In addition to Clarke’s remarks, the reception was highlighted by brief but poignant statements by each of the award recipients in which they reflected on their own mentoring journeys, philosophies and student success stories.

“This event demonstrates that ASU places an extremely high value on mentorship,” said Shaibi. “Honoring faculty for their contributions in the area of mentorship is an additional mechanism by which the Graduate College displays its commitment to supporting the success of graduate students and postdocs.”

All award recipients said that the most rewarding part of receiving the award was that the nominations came from graduate students and postdoctoral scholars themselves.

“I was thrilled to learn I had won the award,” said Luecken. “It means so much that it came from my students.”

Delgado echoed the sentiment.

“This award has and will continue to have the most profound meaning for me because it was initiated by my students,” she said. “They are the reason why I became a faculty (member). I am beyond grateful for their support and the support of ASU in this beginning stage of my career.”

For Klimek, the fulfillment of her mentoring relationships — watching graduate students grow and succeed — is a reward in and of itself.

“Mentoring energizes me,” she said. “The most rewarding thing about being a mentor is seeing my mentees go their own way and achieving not only their educational goals but their social and personal goals.”

About the recipients

Read the mentoring philosophies of awardees at the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards webpage.

2018-19 Outstanding Doctoral Mentor — Linda Luecken

Luecken is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the associate dean of faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Since 2000, she has been a member of the clinical psychology faculty at ASU. Her research interests include health psychology, women’s perinatal health, the impact of early life adversity on the development of cardiovascular and hormonal stress responses and cultural and environmental influences on children’s obesity risk.

2018-19 Outstanding Master’s Mentor — Anca Delgado

Delgado is an assistant professor of environmental engineering in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment and a faculty member of the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Her expertise is in bioremediation processes and environmental biotechnologies that combine microbial catalysts and chemical oxidants and reductants. Delgado researches microbial processes that sequester and transform carbon and chlorine compounds to remove contaminants and improve soil and groundwater quality.

2018-19 Outstanding Instructional Faculty Mentor — Barbara Klimek

Klimek is a clinical associate professor and Master of Social Work coordinator at the School of Social Work. She is the director of the Office of Global Social Work, senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability, affiliate faculty of the Master of Social Justice and Human Rights program at ASU and affiliate faculty of the Melikian Center. Klimek engages in research related to issues of cultural diversity, social justice for refugees and immigrants, community development and international social work.

2018-19 Outstanding Postdoctoral Mentor — Gabriel Shaibi

Shaibi is an associate professor and Southwest Borderlands Scholar at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. His research focuses on understanding and preventing obesity-related health disparities among Latino youth and families. Shaibi’s work spans the translational spectrum and includes collaborations with a transdisciplinary team of researchers, clinicians and community partners to improve health equity among vulnerable and underserved populations. In addition to his research, Shaibi directs the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at ASU, is the research director for the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and is an associate editor for the journal Obesity.

MORE: Learn about the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards, including evaluation criteria, nomination processes and timelines