Photo by Dean Forbes
The best thing that can happen to a student is to come across a teacher who supports the student’s potential, understands his or her challenges and has the capacity to listen, learn and inspire. It happened to Sandi Navarro when, as a doctoral student in nutrition sciences, she began working with Dr. Johanna Lampe, a nutritionist in the Public Health Sciences Division.
“I nominated her for the University of Washington’s Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award last spring on my own, but the sentiment was there from everyone,” Navarro said. “The Hutchinson Center’s McDougall Mentoring Award gave us the opportunity to let Johanna know that it wasn't just one student's opinion that she was outstanding, but unanimous across her whole group of mentees—present and past.”
Thanks to the appreciation of Navarro and many other students, Lampe was named the 2009 McDougall award winner. (Lampe won the UW mentoring award a few months earlier.)
Mentorship above and beyond
The Center's Student/Postdoc Advisory Committee established the McDougall award three years ago to recognize and honor faculty members who demonstrate an outstanding investment in their lab members' professional development and success as independent researchers or clinical scientists. The award commemorates the late Dr. Jim McDougall, a founding member of the Basic Sciences Division who was highly regarded as a mentor in his 25 years at the Center.
Presented at the annual SPAC holiday party, the award came as a surprise to Lampe. “The Center is a hot bed of great mentors and there are many who are deserving of this award,” she said.
The rewards of mentoring
“I have had good teachers in the students and postdocs I have mentored,” Lampe said. “I have also been very fortunate to have great mentors throughout my career. Mentoring seems to be something you learn by doing and, fortunately, I have had patient mentees.”
“Anyone who works with students or postdocs is mentoring on some level, and taking the extra time has numerous rewards both with regard to facilitating one’s own research as well as guiding the next generations of scientists,” Lampe said. “I really appreciate that the Center recognizes the value of mentoring and that this award exists, annually remembering and honoring an exceptional mentor in Dr. Jim McDougall.”
A sampling of students’ praise for Lampe:
- “A key attribute that makes Dr. Lampe such an outstanding mentor is her unique ability to capture the interests and goals of her students, and then suggest paths for professional development that align with these objectives,” Navarro said.
- “There is an old Chinese proverb that says a good mentor is not only a good teacher, but also a good friend, a treasure-chest from which you can obtain many things beyond knowledge. To me, Dr. Johanna Lampe is such a mentor,” said Fei Li, a doctoral student in nutritional sciences.
- “I learned firsthand that Dr. Lampe does not meet the criteria of the McDougall Mentoring Award, she exceeds them,” said Dr. Sabrina Peterson, currently an assistant professor in nutrition at the University of Minnesota. “She has the ability to leave you feeling better after you’ve talked with her, the ability to make you feel like she always has time for you—the ability to constantly believe in you.”
- “Johanna not only managed an unconventional project with a student from a different field, but she did it while allowing me to work independently and creatively,” said Karlyn Beer, a master’s and doctoral candidate in epidemiology and molecular and cell biology.
- “During meetings, she listens intently to my thoughts and comments and responds with throught-provoking questions intended to gently guide my reasoning. I have seen her do the same with all personnel in her lab, regardless of position or training level,” said Dr. Petra Eichelsdoerfer, a postdoctoral fellow.
- “Most important, Johanna showed me the quest of knowledge is done with responsibility and the highest ethical standard,” said Dr. Jyh-Lurn Chang, a former doctoral student, currently a medical writer at Metagenics.