Effective mentors require patience and the willingness to remember when they were students. That’s some, but not all, of the advice from William Beierwaltes, Ph.D., Wayne State University’s 2013 Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award in Health Sciences winner.
Dr. Beierwaltes, a WSU Graduate School professor and WSU School of Medicine adjunct professor of Physiology, will be recognized at 4 p.m., April 25 at the Academic Recognition Ceremony in WSU’s McGregor Conference Center in Detroit. He was both surprised and humbled by the honor.
“I have had marvelous support from the entire Physiology Department since joining the faculty in 2004, both in teaching and mentoring students. I can think of nothing better or more gratifying than to be put forward by my peers for my work with training our students,” said Dr. Beierwaltes, senior research scientist in the Hypertension and Vascular Research Division of the Department of Internal Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
The award is given to a faculty member who has shown deep dedication and passion for graduate student mentoring.
"Dr. Beierwaltes' track record demostrates his devotion to advancing the careers of his trainees. His mentoring is evidenced by the numbers of publications by his trainees and the external individual fellowships that he has helped them to obtain, which certainly helps the students' individual professional and academic development, and prepares them for academic careers," said Ambika Mathur, Ph.D., interim dean of the WSU Graduate School and director of the M.D./Ph.D. program. "I am honored to give this award to Dr. Beierwaltes based on the outstanding qualities he has demonstrated as a mentor."
Dr. Beierwaltes has overseen more than 60 trainees in his lab since 1983. They have included high school students, undergraduates, medical and graduate students, an M.D./Ph.D. student, postdoctoral fellows, medical and surgical residents, high school science teachers and visiting scientists. Mentoring is especially important in academic science, he added.
“I guess for most people, even folks in more practical fields of science (such as teachers or physicians), the entire research enterprise is really abstract and largely misunderstood. I like to think that given a smart and self-motivated student, it is my job to introduce them to hypothesis-based questions that unlock ideas and make the process logical, fun and personally rewarding,” Dr. Beierwaltes said. “It helps to get a student involved in his/her own project so they have a sense of ‘ownership’ in the research process.”