Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award

The Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award was created by the UMCES Graduate Student Council to recognize outstanding faculty for their advising and mentoring commitment to students in the classroom and beyond.

2024, Yantao Li
Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology 

Yantao Li, an expert in microalgal biology and biotechnology, exemplifies dedication to students success as both a professor and a principal investigator. Li creates a welcoming atmosphere that encourages open discussion and critical thinking, which deepens understanding, bolsters learning, and inspires students to be innovative. He excels in mentorship, ensuring his students have a solid direction for their degrees, provides constructive feedback, and fosters collaboration and networking. Li is always quick to emphasize the importance of scientific engagement by encouraging participation in conferences and joint group meetings with collaborators in which his students are included. He values a work-life balance and fosters a culture predicated on personal well-being and professional growth. Li actively supports the professional development of his students through engagement with initiatives like the REEF program, participation in shared governance, and communicating research to a wider audience. Moreover, he is always available, extending kindness and support not just to his colleagues and students, but also to the broader scientific community for research guidance, career advice, or personal development.

2022, Eric Schott
Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology

Eric Schott received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award for his dedication to both science and his students. Students say he is dedicated to improving diversity, equality and inclusion in his lab. He has mentored numerous undergraduates and interns in his lab, and for many years has been involved in the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology Summer Internship program that connects students with scientists to conduct their own research. He is currently the UMCES Project Director of the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center that provides support for graduate students from underrepresented groups in marine and environmental science, preparing them for careers in research, management, and policy that support the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources.

2021, Jeremy Testa
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Since his arrival as a faculty member at Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in 2013, Jeremy Testa has mentored more than 15 students and positively impacted the lives of many more. Testa is an exemplary member of UMCES who actively serves on numerous panels, search committees and research advisory committees, all while balancing his  research, family and students’ needs. His students note that he cares about their own personal growth as much as their development as scientists.

2020, Matt Fitzpatrick
Appalachian Laboratory

During his time at UMCES, Matt Fitzpatrick has made a clear mark as a mentor, making mentoring a priority within his lab and throughout the broader community. He often adopts “orphaned” students when their original advisors have had to leave UMCES, and he has also worked with and mentored students from neighboring Frostburg State University. He is broadly known around the Appalachian Laboratory to have an open- door policy for anyone on campus to discuss both science, as well as outside interests like astronomy and photography. Fitzpatrick guides, while also allowing students to develop their own paths, supporting them “unreservedly in whatever their goals may be.”

2019, Laura Lapham
Chesapeake Biological Laboratory

Laura Lapham made mentoring a top priority in her program and has employed unique opportunities to mentor both within University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), and externally by bringing various aged students into the community. During her eight years at UMCES, Lapham has made mentoring a top priority in her program, including mentoring two high school interns, seven National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program students, two undergraduate interns, and three community college students.

2018, Tsetso Bachvaroff
Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology 

Tsetso Bachvaroff received the inaugural award for going above and beyond to assist his graduate students. His door is always open as he has created a stellar community among his students and consistently takes time to guide, or reassure them in their work. Although Bachvaroff is the official advisor to only a few students, he spends a lot of time mentoring other students at IMET. His office is always open and is a popular place for students to meet.