IPiB announces mentoring and teaching awards, GLDC welcomes new officers

The Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) announced its 2022 awards that celebrate teaching and mentoring. The awards were given out at the IPiB Summer Reception on Wednesday, June 1.

Matthew Blackburn, from the lab of biochemistry professor Michael Sussman, and Aryel Clarke, from the lab of biomolecular chemistry professor Jon Audhya, received the 2022 Denton Award for Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring. Elizabeth Larson, from the lab of biomolecular chemistry associate professor Melissa Harrison, received the 2022 Sigrid Leirmo Memorial Award in Biochemistry.

Photo of Aryel Clarke and Matthew Blackburn
IPiB graduate students Aryel Clarke (left) and Matthew Blackburn.

The Denton Award honors IPiB students who consistently provide quality guidance and scientific training in mentoring undergraduate students in their research efforts and show evidence of quality, commitment and innovation in teaching.

“I am still contemplating my long-term career goals, but I’ve always loved teaching, especially mentoring younger scientists. Because of that, I am not ruling out a career in academia, and this award is a validation of that possibility,” Blackburn says. “I want to encourage other students from disadvantaged backgrounds to always persevere, and to not allow yourselves to be compared to others who do not share your circumstances. Your personal battles are your own and your progress in your scientific career is also your own…I can show this [award] to my family and show them we’re getting somewhere!”

The Denton Award is made possible by the generosity of Arnold E. and Catherine M. Denton. IPiB is the joint program of the Department of Biochemistry and Department of Biomolecular Chemistry.

“I really appreciate the recognition for the time and energy I have put into teaching and mentoring,” says Clarke, who also received a Denton Award. Clarke recently accepted a one-year lecturer position at UW La Crosse. “I benefited from having quality mentorship during my early research experiences and it has always been important to me to give back as much as possible. Moving from the bench to the classroom feels like such a big transition, and receiving this award really boosts my confidence in my teaching ability.”

Photo of Elizabeth Larson
IPiB graduate student Elizabeth Larson.

The Leirmo Award recognizes graduate or postdoctoral students who exemplify the spirit of Sigrid Leirmo, who received her Ph.D. from the biochemistry department in 1989. Leirmo was widely acknowledged among her fellow students and colleagues as a promising researcher and enthusiastic friend and mentor.

“I am truly so honored to be receiving this award,” says Larson, who recently finished her Ph.D. and is starting a job as an applications scientist at Promega. “I have loved being involved with IPiB and I have worked hard in my roles in the GLDC [Graduate Leadership & Development Committee] to make sure that other students have a positive graduate school experience…This award will continue to motivate me to be a thoughtful and helpful mentor and scientist in my future endeavors.”

IPiB’s Graduate Leadership & Development Committee (GLDC) also announced its newest round of officers at the reception.

  • Chair – Andrea Hunger
  • Vice Chair – Juliet Cheng
  • NSOC/Wellness – Corinne Mos
  • Recruiting – Kim Huggler and Gina Wade
  • GLDC Events & Communications – Clara Frazier and Eddie Hoey
  • Outreach – Andrea Hunger and Lauren Mazurkiewicz
  • Career and Lunch Symposia – Kyle Flickinger and Gina Wade
  • Student Invited Speaker – Haley Penkala
  • Retreat – Jess Davidson and Ryan Klevens

This writeup was originally posted on the IPiB website.