The IPN Junior Faculty Educator Award is presented to the junior IPN faculty member who stands out in the program as an exceptional overall educator and who has gone out of his or her way to encourage and support the students in the IPN. This reflects any and all types of educating, training, and/or mentoring (personal and professional) and is NOT limited solely to formal classroom teaching.
See below for a list of past award winners and the student essays that accompanied their nominations.
Past Award Winners
The IPN students have spoken, selecting Dr. John VanMeter, director of the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging (CFMI), as the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Faculty Award! Students cited Dr. VanMeter’s excellence and enthusiasm as a scientist, instructor, and mentor as reasons for his selection for this award. As director of CFMI, Dr. VanMeter secured an impressive NIH grant and has worked tirelessly to oversee the upgrade of the center’s scanner. According to one student, “there is no one at Georgetown more excited about magnetic resonance imaging than John.” He also encourages the students share in his appreciation of this research tool, through his course titled “fMRI: Theory and Practice,” which has been described by students as one of the best electives available in this discipline. As a mentor, Dr. VanMeter is passionate about the success of each and every student, regardless of whether or not they are in his lab. He is generous with his time, as he does everything from helping his CFMI Research Assistants get accepted into their desired graduate programs (such as IPN alumni Kyle Shattuck, Benson Stevens, and current students Sikoya Ashburn and Kelly Martin), to serving on numerous students’ thesis committees, to working with researchers from Georgetown and other nearby institutions to design and execute their imaging experiments. Students also love his use of emojis! Students describe Dr. VanMeter as enthusiastic, supportive, dedicated, and (of course): magnetic. Dr. VanMeter with out a doubt is deserving of this year’s Outstanding Faculty Award.
Voters agree that the Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award recipient for 2017 is an exceptional scientist and mentor. She is always available to ask questions of, both science and life, and is extremely gifted at explaining difficult concepts in an accessible and non-condescending way. Her lectures are always fascinating, and her manner is so open and approachable, that she invites even the most shy students to ask their long-suppressed questions. Her commitment to the IPN and Georgetown University are seen in her participation on thesis and oral committees as well as her service in science outreach. Students describe her as "engaging, supportive, and approachable." Her role as a mentor extends well beyond the scope of her lab, guiding students from both the IPN and Pharmacology programs. Dr. Conant has a significant impact on IPN and its students by supporting and encouraging their scientific journey.
2014 & 2015
The voters agree that the Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award recipient for 2014 demonstrates what an IPN student and leader should be. He most certainly takes on more than is humanly possible to achieve in any given day, yet somehow always manages to make time for students, committees, or just to lend an ear. It is remarkably clear how devoted he is to mentorship, science and to the Georgetown community at large. He is an incredible teacher and mentor, as well as a meticulous and creative scientist. As a teacher/mentor, he is very supportive, but demands the absolute best of his students. As a scientist, his hunger for knowledge and new ideas is insatiable. He is extremely motivated and hard working, passionate about his science and staying on top of the broader neuroscience field, and he is dedicated to training tomorrow's scientists both in the classroom and at the bench. And on top of all that he manages to be a wonderful person, to boot!
2010, 2012, 2013, & 2016
The voters agree that this year's Faculty Award recipient "stood out among other faculty members." She has shown a great interest in the well-being of IPN students (and the program as a whole) by going above and beyond as a teacher and mentor, both in and out of the lab. In the classroom, Dr. Maguire-Zeiss is described as an "engaging lecturer" who challenges her students to answer questions "that will help them to understand concepts on a deeper level." But she is not one to rest on her teaching laurels. By not only welcoming constructive criticism but being proactive in collecting feedback from students, it's clear she feels that teaching is always a work in progress and genuinely wants to improve her teaching by adapting her style to fit the students' needs. As a mentor, Dr. Maguire-Zeiss is described as "very patient and knowledgeable for students in the lab, even those not in her own", constantly pushing students' "mental envelope by challenging their views." By taking extra time out of her day to talk with students, not only answering questions about research and classroom material but also providing guidance and advice about careers and professional issues, she demonstrates a desire to facilitate our growth not only as students, but as scientists. Dr. Maguire-Zeiss has a significant impact on the IPN and by holding students accountable to her high standards is working to make the program better.
Dr. Mark Burns is an excellent scientist, mentor, and teacher. Dr. Burns' dedication to his research in traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer's disease is admirable--in addition to playing an extremely active role in the lab, he is also co-director of the IPN elective course Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration, gives lectures on traumatic brain injury to IPN and medical students as part of the Medical Neuroscience course, and teaches anatomy in the Medical Neuroscience Anatomy Lab. In the past year Dr. Burns has started his own lab, became Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers in Neurodegenerative Disorders and Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychiatry, continued to be in charge of the Department of Neuroscience's weekly Neurobreakfast Seminar Series, and has authored multiple papers. Dr. Burn's enthusiasm and excitement for research is contagious, and this, in combination with his expertise, insight, and willingness to help others, makes Mark a great mentor, colleague, and candidate for the Junior Faculty Award.
Dr. Kathy Maguire-Zeiss is remarkably committed to students' development as scientists and takes an active approach to training both in the classroom and laboratory. She has participated in numerous oral exam committees and has allowed many a rotation student to learn in her lab. In addition to being a thesis mentor, she has served on the IPN admission committee, IPN executive Committee, directs the IPN Core Motor Module, and teaches in Molecular Mechanisms and Neurodegeneration and Neuroanatomy courses. Her door is always open for students to stop by and ask questions. It is her great enthusiasm and willingness to teach students that has us nominating her for this Junior Faculty award.
Dr. Baoji Xu's dedication to excellence is evident in all his professional and academic endeavours, including his impressive commitment to students. He has served on the Department of Pharmacology's Graduate Admission Committee, the IPN Executive Committee and the IPN Curriculum Committee. He teaches IPN Core Neuroscience, Advanced Pharmacology, and organizes the Department of Pharmacology journal club. Baoji has committed his time to 11 thesis committees, and numerous oral exam committees. His dedication to the admissions process is evident in his participation in interviewing numerous IPN and Pharmacology program candidates.
Dr. Baoji Xu's approach to science and vast knowledge base has enabled those he works with to ask rigorous and demanding questions. He is always available to listen to questions and provide valuable feedback and direction, though ultimately leaves the decisions up to you, which results in an amazing learning experience. His role as a mentor extends well beyond the scope of his lab, engaging and guiding students from both the IPN and Pharmacology programs.
Dr. Baoji Xu is a truly inspirational teacher, mentor, and scientist. We feel his hard work and dedication merits the junior faculty award.
As both a scientist and a mentor, Maximilian Riesenhuber is an exemplar. A recently promoted associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience, Dr. Riesenhuber runs a strong research program studying high-level visual and auditory processing while at the same time educating medical students, graduate students, and undergraduate students. His numerous contributions to the IPN include delivering thoughtful lectures in the core curriculum, teaching elective courses, and playing a key role on the Student Advisory Committee, Admissions Committee, three IPN students' thesis committees as well as many orals committees. Dr. Riesenhuber is invested in many programs and departments at Georgetown University, but his high esteem for the IPN is clear: in the upcoming academic year, he will become the module director of a portion of the core curriculum and teach an elective course in computational neuroscience. On paper, it may seem that Dr. Riesenhuber is busier than ever these days, yet one of his most impressive achievements is how he can still find time to have detailed conversations with his students to work through questions about experimental design, data acquisition, analysis or interpretation, and then get home to his family well before his children are in bed.
Maria is a patient and compassionate mentor. She expects a lot from her students, but she works hard for her students and they, in return, want to work hard for her. She has many connections in the neuroscience community and is always happy to help her students make connections to find jobs, learn techniques, or share reagents. Most of all, she is always there for her students. When grant deadlines are approaching, she will read and substantially edit manuscripts in record time. She is always interested in what you are doing and cares about the results without micromanaging. She always includes her students in major lab decisions (hiring, new students) and takes our persectives into account. Maria also wants her students to have a full life inside and outside the lab while being a good role model for work-life balance. I can't recommend Maria enough for this award.
Molly Huntsman is an active member of the IPN community. She serves on thesis committees and oral exams, teaches in and directs CORE modules, and mentors 3 IPN students. Molly is also an active recruiter of new students to the IPN; as a member of the admissions committee that goes above and beyond, Molly not only interviews perspective students, she also goes out with the recruits and writes follow up emails encouraging our top picks to make Georgetown their top pick. Molly's involvement in the IPN goes well beyond the class room and committees. Molly organized and plays for the IPN softball team (what a bunch of Jerks;) and routinely throws parties attended by both faculty and students. Molly is one of the IPN greatest fans and advocates. And Molly, we are fans of you!