School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Faculty Mentors of Year to be honored Friday

Xiaoming Li, Ph.D.

Xiaoming Li, Ph.D.

Alana Conti, Ph.D.

Alana Conti, Ph.D.

Two Wayne State University School of Medicine faculty members will be honored as outstanding mentors this week as part of the first WSU Postdoc Appreciation Week.

The Wayne State University Postdoctoral Association launched Postdoc Appreciation Week, now through Oct. 18, to honor and appreciate postdocs and recognize the contributions they make to research and development at WSU. Events include a movie night, doughnut and cider socials, a vendor show with lunch, postdoc appreciation gifts and the first of what will become an annual Postdoctoral Research Symposium on Oct. 18.

The activities include honoring two faculty members as the inaugural Graduate School's Senior Faculty Mentor of the Year and Junior Faculty Mentor of the Year.

Selected by a committee from a field of eight candidates, Xiaoming Li, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and director of the Pediatric Prevention Research Center, has been named the Senior Faculty Mentor of the Year, and Alana Conti, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery, has been named Junior Faculty Mentor of the Year.

Both will be recognized and presented with a plaque and check during the Postdoctoral Research Symposium at 3 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Margherio Family Conference Center.

 “It is a great honor for me to be nominated and selected for the award,” said Dr. Li, who joined the School of Medicine in 2003. “I especially want to thank my postdoctoral fellows who took time to do the nomination, which means a lot to me as their faculty mentor.

“I think mentoring is one of the few privileges we have as a college professor,” he added. “Working with some highly motivated and talented students and seeing them growing as a researcher or educator have been the most significant rewards of my career.”

“Dr. Li has worked tirelessly over several years to promote the careers of his postdoc trainees,” said Ambika Mathur, Ph.D., interim dean of the WSU Graduate School. “He has a track record of ensuring that they are placed in good academic careers after completing their training with him.”

Dr. Mathur chaired the committee of six postdoctoral students that selected Dr. Li and Dr. Conti.

“It has been my privilege to mentor such talented, bright postdocs and to have influenced their careers in a positive way,” said Dr. Conti, who joined the School of Medicine in 2009 and has adjunct appointments in psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, and in anatomy and cell biology. “Contributing to the scientific growth and career development of trainees is one of the most rewarding aspects of my career.”

Dr. Conti, said Dr. Mathur, “has in a short time since her appointment as assistant professor established herself as an extremely committed mentor to her postdoctoral trainees. Her trainees have been successful in obtaining external individual fellowships, an essential element of career development for postdocs.”

Friday’s symposium will feature professional and career development opportunities for postdocs at WSU, an elite panel of invited guests to discuss career pathways for postdocs in academia, industry, science communication and entrepreneurship, and a keynote address by Philip Clifford, Ph.D., associate dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and professor of anesthesiology and physiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Dr. Clifford is an outspoken advocate for postdoctoral education at local and national levels and a strong proponent of career planning for doctoral scientists. In addition to inaugurating the Office of Postdoctoral Education at the Medical College of Wisconsin, he helped initiate national reform by participating in the establishment of both the National Postdoctoral Association and the Association of American Medical College’s Graduate Research Education and Training Group Postdoctorate Leaders Section. In 2012, he received the NPA’s Distinguished Service Award. He contributed to the development of key documents used in the postdoctoral community, including the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Individual Development Plan for postdoctoral fellows, the AAMC GREAT Group’s “Compact Between Postdoctoral Appointees and Their Mentors” and the NPA Postdoctoral Core Competencies. He is a coauthor of the recently launched career website

The symposium also will feature postdoctoral research work at WSU. The top six presenters will receive awards.

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