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Faculty Recognized for Teaching, Advocacy, Mentoring, and Program Excellence

Professor Sally Thurston Wins the Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award

Sally Thurston with current and former postdocsDr. Sally W. Thurston received the 2022 Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Awards and Philosophy Meeting on September 13, 2022. This annual award is given to one faculty member to recognize their dedication to postdoctoral trainees and their significant contributions to the career development and professional advancement of postdoctoral trainees.

Dr. Thurston was nominated by her postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Sima Sharghi, who wrote "Even writing this letter makes me so emotional, describing the level of support I have received from this woman. Sally is selfless! She is the best mentor, teacher, boss, and advisor I have EVER had. Sally is highly educated and knowledgeable of many areas of statistics, but she patiently waits for me to learn on my own speed. She pays attention to the details that I could easily miss...corrects my mistakes in the nicest me space to be creative, and to learn how to collaborate with researchers from other universities. Because of Sally’s manners and behavior towards me, I feel I belong."

One of Dr. Thurston's colleagues in Biostatistics also noted that a common theme in Dr. Thurston's work with students is her "selfless dedication and her amazing ability to inspire her mentees to believe in themselves."

Professor Sally Thurston Receives Outstanding Graduate Course Director Award

Professor Sally Thurston and student Joe CiminelliDr. Sally W. Thurston was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Graduate Course Director Award at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Opening Convocation ceremony on September 8, 2016. 

The nomination process was initiated by Drs. Mike McDermott and Robert Strawderman based on feedback from Ph.D. student Joe Ciminelli, and supported by letters or written statements from all students in Dr. Thurston’s spring 2016 course, BST512: Topics in Statistical Inference II -  Advanced Bayesian Inference. 

In his student nomination letter, Joe Ciminelli noted that “without comparison, this course ranks as the top formal educational experience I have had in graduate school” and that Dr. Thurston “is a teacher at her core, dedicated to students and their learning.”

Professor Matthew McCall Presented with Graduate Student Society Advocacy Award

The Graduate Student Society (GSS) has selected Dr. Matthew N. McCall to receive the 2015 Graduate Student Society Advocacy Award. This annual award recognizes one faculty member's significant contributions to the quality of life and education for graduate students, including leading and/or contributing to academic events, social events, community outreach, and philanthropic efforts.

Professor Michael McDermott Named as Outstanding Graduate Program Director

Dr. Michael McDermott received the Outstanding Graduate Program Director Award at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Opening Convocation ceremony on September 9, 2015. This award is given to an outstanding graduate program director who has made exceptional and/or unique contributions to a graduate program and the graduate student experience within his/her respective program. 

The Chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, Dr. Robert Strawderman, states: “Mike cares very deeply about the quality of our graduate program and the success of its students. Serving as our Director for 15 years is a testament alone to his unwavering commitment. Mike treats students with respect. He is sensitive to their academic and personal concerns, finding solutions to problems where needed in ways that address individual needs while maintaining academic integrity and program rigor. Through his approachability and willingness to serve as a source of both academic and personal advice, he has clearly fostered a culture of respect and unwavering trust in his judgment. He is a very strong and effective advocate for students both within the department and in the University more broadly.”

Professor Christopher Beck Selected for Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award

Dr. Christopher Beck was presented with the Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award at the School of Medicine and Dentistry Opening Convocation on September 12, 2013. The selection of the awardee is based on the instructor’s record of excellence in classroom instruction, as reflected by the letter of nomination from students enrolled in one or more courses in which the teacher has delivered a significant number of lectures and by course-instructor survey evaluations.

Beyond the University of Rochester: Drs. Sally Thurston, David Oakes, Matthew McCall, and Michael McDermott are current mentors in the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences ("Math Alliance"). We are proud to be recognized as a Math Alliance Graduate Program Group since 2015 and remain committed to ensuring that all students thrive.