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Engineering Professor Recognized for Outstanding Mentoring

Apr 14, 2023   |   Guarini School of Graduate & Advanced Studies

Associate Professor of Engineering Kimberley Samkoe is a 2023 recipient of the Guarini School Faculty Mentoring Award—designed by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) to recognize outstanding commitment to fostering the professional and personal development of graduate students.

Associate Professor of Engineering Kimberley Samkoe receives the Guarini School Faculty Mentoring Award from Dean Jon Kull '88. (Photo by Rob Strong)

An effective mentor relationship is multi-faceted and provides supportive guidance to the mentee both professionally and personally. Nomination letters are submitted each year from current and past students in testimony to their mentor's outstanding impact on their development.

Significant value is placed on these nurturing relationships that are supportive, confidential, both professionally and personally, and crucially, lie outside the parameters of assessment and evaluation. An effective mentoring relationship is essential for navigating the challenges of balancing research, teaching, and publishing and a positive mentoring relationship is associated with higher career satisfaction and research success.

Professor Samkoe's research focus is in molecular fluorescence imaging for quantitative assessment of in vivo molecular expression of proteins for cancer diagnosis, therapeutic monitoring and surgical resection.

Letters from Samkoe's nominators came from a broad representation of colleagues, not only from her current lab, but also from alumni and students outside her lab—such is the breadth of support for her outstanding mentoring style.

It is clear from the letters written in support of her nomination that those who have the good fortune to interact with Samkoe are left richer for the experience. Despite an incredible research, teaching and mentoring schedule, she meets her mentees where they are with compassion and patience, giving them the "freedom to not only think critically but to also make mistakes," wrote one nominator.

"She was the person I turned to when I had those 'stupid questions' I was too embarrassed to ask my primary advisor," wrote another.

Each letter spoke of her patience and approachability which, in turn, helped them develop greater efficacy in research presentation and discussion. And, even as her lab team has grown and with it her research responsibilities, she continues with an unwavering commitment to her students.

When asked about her approach to mentoring, Samkoe acknowledged the importance of her own experience as a mentee, when "my PhD supervisor encouraged me to join a student network for research the experience opened my eyes to the importance of collaboration—of networking."

The value she places on collaboration was reiterated by several of her nominators, with one noting this active support led to the publication of manuscripts as a co-author and presentation of their research at international conferences within the first two years of joining the Samkoe Lab.

"Her commitment to excellence is inspiring," wrote one of her nominators.

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