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Nine Individuals, Two Departments Receive Graduate Dean’s Awards

School honors faculty, students for excellence in teaching and mentoring

Grad mentoring

Winners of the Graduate School Mentoring Awards: Charles Becker, David Kirsch, Ann Marie Rasmussen, Irene Liu and Titilayo Shodiya

Meeting Charles Becker made all the difference for a young scholar who was trying to decide where to attend graduate school in economics.

Becker, one of the winners of the Graduate School's annual faculty mentoring awards, convinced the student to attend Duke.  In nominating Becker for the school's award, the student said that she had already decided not to attend to Duke and considered cancelling the meeting with Becker.

"To this day, I remain grateful for the stroke of luck that made me keep my meeting with him," the student said in nominating Becker. "In what must have been no more than 20 minutes, Professor Becker showed such enthusiasm for me and for my research ideas that I was hooked. At 21, I don’t think anyone else had ever taken my ideas so seriously, and I knew I had found an excellent mentor."

The school's annual teaching and mentoring award are meant to bring attention to the importance of mentoring in a successful Graduate School experience. That mentoring comes from both faculty and graduate students.

The winners were nominated by graduate students, who spoke of the value of teaching and mentoring in their road to the Ph.D.s. The students told stories of environments in the classrooms and labs where through effective collaboration they grow and become professional scholars.

This year, Graduate School Dean Paula McClain added a new award for "Inclusive Excellence" meant to honor departments that "create an inclusive environment that engages all of its diversity in the intellectual development of students and faculty."

In launching the award, McClain said the award goes beyond rewarding demographics, but will judge departments on "climate, curriculum, intellectual discourse and recruitment, retention and graduation of individuals underrepresented in the discipline, field or area."

The first two winners of the award were the departments of cultural anthropology and of sociology.

Below are the 2014 winners. Click the links to see full stories on each winner:

Faculty Mentoring

Charles Becker

Associate Chair, Director of MA Program, Research Professor, Economics


David Kirsch

Associate Professor, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology; Associate Professor, Radiation Oncology


Ann Marie Rasmussen

Professor, Germanic Languages and Literature


Student Mentoring

Irene Liu

PhD Student, Biology (Faculty Adviser, Stephen Nowicki)


Titilayo Shodiya

PhD Student, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

(Faculty Adviser, Nico Hotz)


Excellence in Teaching (Students Only)

Owen Reagan

PhD Student, Religion (Faculty Adviser, Grant Wacker)


Clifford Robinson

PhD Student, Classical Studies (Faculty Adviser, Peter Burian)


Maria Terres

PhD Student, Statistical Sciences (Faculty Adviser, Alan Gelfand)


Anil Venkatesh

PhD Student, Mathematics (Faculty Adviser, Richard Hain)


Inclusive Excellence

Department of Cultural Anthropology

Chair, Orin Starn


Department of Sociology

Chair, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Below: Graduate student teaching award winners: Owen Reagan, Clifford Robinson, Maria Terres and Anil Venkatesh

teaching awards