Strathdee, ‘a Tireless Advocate,’ Earns Inaugural Postdoctoral Scholar Mentoring Award

UC San Diego’s mission is to advance knowledge through excellence in education and research at all levels, including postdoctoral scholarship. This goal could not be achieved without the dedication of our faculty, who serve as effective advisors, advocates, role models and colleagues to our next generation of researchers.

To honor these faculty members, the Office of Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar Affairs, with the generous support of Garnett-Powers and Associates, this year established the GPA Excellence in Postdoctoral Scholar Mentoring Award.

The inaugural recipient of the award is Steffanie A. Strathdee, associate dean of Global Health Sciences, Harold Simon Chair and chief of the Division of Global Public Health in the Department of Medicine.

Professor Stephanie Strathdee (left), chief of the Division of Global Public Health in the Dept. of Medicine, accepts the inaugural Garnett-Powers and Associates Excellence in Postdoctoral Scholar Mentoring Award. She was nominated and introduced by Lianne Urada, Ph.D., who said Strathee is a “tireless advocate” for junior scholars.

Strathdee was nominated by Lianne Urada, who said in the award introduction that what makes Strathdee an excellent mentor is that “she is not only an amazing human being – compassionate, fair, professional, dedicated, and down-to-earth – but also a tireless advocate who constantly finds new ways to support her junior scholars, to improve them, and to get them promoted.”

Strathdee treats her mentees with respect and encouragement, Urada said, while motivating them to take on greater levels of responsibility and involving them first-hand in cutting-edge research. “She is clear, professional and direct when giving constructive criticism, and goes to great lengths to ensure her fellows move in the direction that is most beneficial for their research careers.

“She assesses her mentees’ skills, interests and goals, and helps them map out not only current projects but also opportunities several levels beyond. Because of her, I feel confident that I can succeed in academia. She has been critical to my success over the years; she has helped power my success.”

Dr. Harold Simon, for whom the endowed chair is named, said, “I have observed and greatly admired Dr. Strathdee’s recruiting, teaching, promoting, supporting, and eventually helping to establish students, postdoctoral fellows, and young faculty onto promising career paths.  She has built one of the most innovative, productive, successful, and respected academic entities I have encountered in my almost 60-year academic career.”

The award was presented during the Postdoc Appreciation Luncheon, a standing-room-only event, when 250 postdocs gathered to be honored. Each received a newly designed postdoc T-shirt, was served a buffet lunch, and was inspired by keynote speaker Professor Roger Tsien, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.  Tsien shared his experiences as a postdoc, talked about finding his niche in research, and entertained the postdocs with his observations of the Nobel Prize ceremony.

“It’s difficult to overstate the importance of knowledgeable, conscientious, and caring mentors for our postdoctoral scholars,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Sandra Brown. “Their wisdom and guidance help ensure that these promising young people achieve at the very highest levels as they embark on their careers.”

“I am incredibly honored to be nominated for this award, and to continue the tradition of those like Dr. Simon,” said Strathdee. “My mentees deserve the kudos – I have learned just as much from them as they have from me. They continue to provide me with new ideas, insights and experiences from a variety of cultures. UC San Diego provides an outstanding environment through which they can flourish.”

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