Since joining the faculty in 1991, Gloria Kressen Muday has built a strong research program based on mentored relationships with students. Over the last twenty-one years, Gloria has mentored more than 35 undergraduate students, at least 12 of whom earned Honors in Biology. Many of Gloria’s 60 research papers have student co-authors and numerous mentees have distinguished themselves through their presentations at scientific conferences.
One former student who has earned both a Ph.D. and M.D. writes: “She not only taught me the ’alphabet soup’ of cellular biochemistry, but she taught me the critical thinking skills to systematically analyze a problem—skills that have been carried far beyond Winston Hall and applied daily. . . . Throughout my education, I have had a great many teachers, far more instructors, but very few mentors. For Dr. Muday, it was not just about the auxin binding protein or the direction of root growth—anyone can talk about personal interests—for her it was about teaching a love for learning, for figuring out the limits of one’s knowledge, and then pushing those limits to find better answers. . . .
Another former student remembered an accidental discovery that Dr. Muday didn’t ignore. She says “Since then, I’ve kept an eye out for unexpected trends and accidental findings. I continue to notice, collect, and learn from surprising and unexpected observations every day in my work.”
Although this is only his sixth year at Wake Forest, Nathan A. Plageman has already mentored a relatively large number of undergraduate students. He has sponsored three Richter Fellows and mentored many more by helping students develop a wide array of research projects, from investigating the history of the banjo in Celtic music to the teaching of apartheid in classrooms and museums.
One of his former students, just awarded “Best First Year Graduate Student” at Emory University, attests to Professor Plageman’s “brilliance and example” as a critical influence upon his career choice. A 2011 graduate, now a Ph.D. candidate of African History at the University of Illinois, recalls her decision to attend graduate school: “I immediately turned to Dr. Plageman for advice and guidance. He responded to my email with a suggestion that we get coffee. Over the next few months, we wrestled together over why I wanted to study history, the challenges and benefits associated with an academic path, what schools I should consider.”
She reflects on the three years she was mentored by Nate at Wake Forest: “Dr. Plageman spent hours reading, reflecting, and commenting on my academic work. His feedback sharpened my intellectual questions, clarified my writing style, and cultivated my self-awareness. He represents a key figure in my scholarly journey.”
Categories: URECA Awards