Four honored for their work mentoring graduate students

By Ruth Stevens

Princeton NJ -- Four Princeton faculty members have been named the recipients of Graduate Mentoring Awards by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and will be honor-ed during the Graduate School's hooding ceremony on Monday, June 2.

They are: John Cooper, a Stuart Professor of Philosophy; Luigi Martinelli, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Thomas Silhavy, the Warner-Lambert Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology; and Robert Wuthnow, the Gerhard Andlinger '52 Professor of Social Sciences.

The McGraw Center, together with the Graduate School, instituted the award last year to recognize Princeton faculty members whose work with graduate students is particularly outstanding. It is intended to honor faculty members who nurture the intellectual, professional and personal growth of their graduate students.

One faculty member in each academic division (humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering) was chosen for the award by a committee of faculty members and graduate students. In addition to being honored at the ceremony, each will receive a commemorative gift.

 
John Cooper
 
 
Cooper, a Princeton faculty member since 1981, teaches and conducts research on ancient Greek philosophy. He has led seminars on Plato, Aristotle, Hellenistic philosophy and ethics for graduate students.

In nominating him for the award, students noted his unfailing support, his helpful feedback on dissertation drafts and his wise counsel to advisees.

"His philosophical erudition and intelligence are extraordinary, and they are entirely at the disposal of his students," wrote one student. "At the same time, he leaves his students the freedom they need to mature into independent scholars."

 
  Luigi Martinelli
 
Martinelli joined the Princeton research staff in 1987 after earning his Ph.D. from the University and was named to the faculty in 1994. He teaches courses in aeronautics and mathematics in engineering, and his current research interest is in the development of computer methods for aerodynamic analysis and design.

Students praised his open mind, his systematic and logical approach to problems, and his extraordinary patience.

"[Professor Martinelli] truly understands the role of the adviser in graduate student education," wrote a student. "He helps students to get the most out of themselves by not putting pressure on them, but by helping them solve their problems in their own way."

 
Thomas Silhavy
 
 
Silhavy, who came to Princeton in 1984, studies signal transduction and protein secretion in bacteria. He has served as director of graduate studies in molecular biology since 1989, and teaches "Molecular Biology of Prokaryotes," a required course for first-year graduate students in the department. He won the Graduate Microbiology Teaching Award last year from the American Society for Microbiology.

In their nomination letters for the award, students cited his superior teaching skills, his research expertise and his interest in students' lives outside of the classroom and the laboratory.

"Tom is a wonderful adviser and has made graduate school a rich and fulfilling experience," wrote a student. "He has encouraged and guided my growth as a scientist; by supporting my outside interests, he has helped me to grow as a person."

 
  Robert Wuthnow
 
Wuthnow, who also has served as director of graduate studies for the sociology department for 12 years, has been a Princeton faculty member since 1976. The founding director of the Center for the Study of Religion, he has taught and conducted research on topics including religion and the arts, contemporary spiritual practices, faith-based nonprofit service organizations, social capital and the public role of American Protestantism.

Students have described him as a "devoted, gifted and skilled mentor," noting his dedication to helping students fulfill their potential.

"Bob has been the best type of mentor I could have had at graduate school," a student wrote. "While never withholding valid criticism, Bob is somehow able to take my thoughts and my work and see in them a few gems that he brings out and encourages me to polish. When Bob's advisees meet with him, they inevitably come out of that meeting feeling smarter, better, more motivated, than when they entered his office."

 
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