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3 professors named Outstanding Doctoral Mentors

October 14, 2010

Three ASU professors have been named as Outstanding Doctoral Mentors 2010 by the Graduate College: Kory W. Floyd, professor and associate director of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication; Jon F. Harrison, professor and associate director of facilities in the School of Life Sciences; and Dieter K. Schroder, a Regents' Professor in the School of Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering.

In nomination letters from current and former doctorate students, they are lauded as lifetime mentors and friends who have secured grant and fellowship funding to support their research, frequently co-published with them, guided and encouraged them through difficult decisions, and continue to mentor them in their careers after graduation. Many of their doctoral graduates have positions in major universities and industries.

“ASU is fortunate to have hundreds of outstanding mentors,” said Maria T. Allison, university vice provost and dean of the Graduate College. “Yet in reviewing the portfolios of these scholars/mentors and the nominations submitted by their deans and former doctoral students, it became clear that these three individuals have achieved a level of mentoring quality that is extraordinary.”

Kory Floyd, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

“The most tangible way in which my mentoring philosophy translates into my graduates’ accomplishments is in their professional productivity,” said Kory Floyd in his mentoring essay. Students credit his guidance with helping them receive awards and recognition, experience in presenting at conferences, learning to write grant applications, and multiple publications.

“Engaging students in cutting-edge research, co-authoring with students, keeping them to a rigorous timeline, and connecting them to scholars in the discipline has made him a highly sought-after adviser,” said Christina G. Yoshimura, who received her doctorate under the guidance of Floyd and now is an assistant professor in Communication Studies at the University of Montana.

In the Communication Sciences Laboratory, Floyd’s primary research is in physiology of communication. His work demonstrates how affectionate behavior can alter stress hormones, lower blood glucose and improve immune system response.

An exemplar of productivity and service, Floyd has received teaching and research awards, and has written or co-authored eight books, 19 book chapters, and more than 120 journal articles and conference papers. He often co-authors with former and current students. He joined the ASU faculty in 2000.

Jon Harrison, School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

“Mentoring Ph.D. students is one of the most vital things that we do as faculty at ASU,” said Jon Harrison. “Training a Ph.D. student who goes on, in turn, to influence thousands of students, or who spends a career pushing back the frontiers of scientific knowledge, is a great amplifier of our effect on society.”

His commitment to his students is reflected in their numerous accomplishments in research, awards, recognition, grants, publications and prestigious jobs after graduation. He also is noted as being especially effective in attracting, retaining and promoting the success of women and members of underrepresented groups in his lab.

Students describe him as being a deeply caring mentor and friend who takes a personal interest in students and their families.

“His dedication to his students and enthusiasm for learning are truly infectious,” said Arianne Cease, a doctoral student in biology. “He loves the process of science and has the uncanny ability to lead students to that next step, the next experiment that will help complete their scientific story.”

Harrison is internationally recognized for his research program in insect physiology ecology. He is a member of numerous scientific societies and recipient of prestigious grants and awards, the most recent being a $1.9 million National Science Foundation award to study complex microsystem networks inspired by internal insect physiology. He lectures and presents at national and international symposia and meetings, and has developed collaborative relationships at universities and industries locally and globally. He also mentors undergraduates and provides science demonstrations for K-12 groups. He has published more than 90 research papers. Harrison joined the ASU faculty in 1991.

Dieter Schroder, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

“Student mentoring is one of the more pleasant activities of a professor,” said Dieter Schroder, who enjoys seeing students blossom under guidance. He has mentored and graduated 62 master’s students and 41 doctoral students in his 28 years at ASU.

Most of his graduated students are employed in the high-tech industry, two started their own businesses, and some have become university faculty members.

His students often cite his ability to communicate complex ideas in an understandable context, as well as his patience, kindness and commitment to their success. He frequently publishes with students, often with the student as first author, and helps them secure grant and fellowship funding to support their research.

“Professor Schroder is an outstanding communicator, being able to deliver complex theories and abstract equations into tangible concrete ideas that are applicable to real industry problems,” said Daniel S. Alvarez, a former student who is now an engineer at Microchip Technology Inc.

Schroder’s textbook “Semiconductor Material and Device Characterization” is used worldwide, and he has an international reputation in the semiconductor industry for the significance of his research. He joined the ASU faculty in 1981 after 13 years at the Westinghouse Research Labs, and has published two books, 10 book chapters, 178 journal articles and 167 conference presentations. He has edited 11 books and holds five patents.

Find out more about the Outstanding Doctoral Mentors and read accolades from their current and former students.