Faculty Mentor of the Month
With the Faculty Mentor of the Month program, we recognize and highlight the important role faculty members play in supporting, encouraging, and promoting an affirmative, inclusive scholarly and teaching environment, while contributing to the professional and personal development of graduate students, and cultivating excellence in scholarship.
- Nominations are accepted year-round
- One winner is selected each month; nominees not selected remain in the pool for future concideration
- Graduate students may nominate their faculty advisors, committee members, or other faculty members who have played a significant role in their graduate experience, either in a single noteworthy instance or through continued and consistent support by completing this short nomination form online.
- The Graduate School selects one faculty mentor a month to receive a certificate and a small token of our appreciation.
- The winner, nominator(s), and the winner's graduate program director are notified by email before the decision is posted on this website.
Faculty mentors of the month will be featured on our website and recognized on social media platforms, as well.
Dr. Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, assistant professor and associate director of the Center for Health Behaviors Research at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, is the April mentor-of-the-month, nominated by MC Frazier, a Ph.D. student in the interdisciplinary Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health (TBMH) program.
Frazier said DiFeliceantonio is noted for being kind, approachable, and accessible to students at the Virginia Tech Health Sciences and Technology campus in Roanoke. “No matter the question or concern, she takes precious time to make you feel heard and affirmed where you are in your training while also providing helpful answers and directions,” wrote Frazier, who noted that her professor listened to an idea for a National Institutes of Health grant and provided helpful feedback and resources.
Frazier also noted DiFeliceantonio’s efforts to create “an inclusive and culturally responsive environment both in the classroom and in one-on-one interactions. She practices and encourages ‘people-first language’ when talking about disorders and diseases, and steers conversation towards maintaining an inclusive environment for her students.”
Stefano Brizzolara, associate professor of aerospace and ocean engineering in the College of Engineering and director of the Innovative Ship Design Lab, is the Graduate School’s May mentor of the month. He was nominated by Lakshmi Miller, who noted he also is the graduate program coordinato. Miller noted that he goes “above and beyond” to help students with their research and has a knack for assisting students who need help, getting them back on track.
Miller also said he focuses on diversity in the workplace and is available to his students virtually as well as in person when they need assistance and to make sure their personal lives also are “on track.”
“He is one of the few mentors that puts mentorship ahead of academics, and needless to say, the academic output from his lab has always been excellent,” Miller wrote. “He gives equal opportunity and makes female students in a male-dominated field such as ocean engineering feel confident in a technical work setting.”
Dr. Su Fang Ng, professor of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, is the June mentor of the month. She was nominated by Air Coradi and Kara Rush. Coradi said Ng provided support and advice as Coradi
wrote her master's thesis and "pushed me to continue writing and develop my ideas."
Rush said, "Dr. Ng thoughtfully mentors students through the sometimes murky and unkind waters of academia, constantly checking in on their wellbeing and offering support. I and others have directly benefited from her guidance, which has helped students both to publish and to be accepted into Ph.D. programs." Rush noted Ng's classroom practice "valorizes unheard voices, both authors and students."
David L. Popham, professor of biological sciences in the College of Science, is the July mentor of the month. He was nominated by Ph.D. candidate Matthew Flores.
In his nomination letter, Flores attributed his success during his graduate education
journey, in part, to Popham’s mentoring, noting that the professor encourages students to take leadership roles and to be active in associations and clubs. “He encourages students to collaborate with each other and others they meet at conferences or in class. On top of the professional development opportunities he pushes us to engage with, he is supportive of every student’s individual needs,” Flores said. He also noted that Popham is open to discussing issues and searching for solutions to problems, “even if it uncomfortable for him.”
Maryam Kamran, Director of Inclusion and Diversity for the College of Natural Resources, is the August Mentor of the Month. She not only leads diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the college, she teaches courses that examine identity and equity through the lens of natural resources.
Sharon Dorsey nominated Kamran and said she "has gone above and beyond in supporting me as a student of color in a program that is lacking racial diversity. Maryam is always an open ear, a sage of good advice, and a resource for additional support whenever I need it. On top of that, she has connected me with other undergraduate students of color that I can mentor and offer to support to."