The Department of Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior supports our underrepresented students and rejects all forms of discrimination. Racial Trauma Resources


2023 Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentorship Award Recipients

The quality and quantity of mentorship at UC Davis is on the rise, and the university’s graduate students and postdoctoral scholars have taken note as demonstrated by the more than 40 nominations that were submitted for the Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentorship Awards this year.

From these 40 nominations, four faculty were selected for these competitive, annual awards in recognition for exceptional guidance and support of UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars’ academic and professional development. Two other faculty members received honorable mentions for their exceptional work in student well-being and career development.

“The awards committee was very impressed with the quality of all the applications. The level of mentorship demonstrated by this year’s winners is very impressive, especially at this stage of their careers,” said Jean-Pierre Delplanque, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies. “Through these awards we hope to acknowledge not just these tremendous faculty, but also to make sure their colleagues and students can share in celebrating their noteworthy contributions to mentorship, which is so vital to graduate student and postdoctoral scholar success.”

Graduate Studies and Graduate Council are pleased to present the 2023 Distinguished Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentorship Award recipients:

  • Aldrin Gomes, Professor, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
  • Maja Makagon, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science
  • Adrienne Nishina, Professor, Department of Human Ecology
  • Richard J. Sexton, Distinguished Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

In addition to the four 2023 award recipients, the awards committee wanted to give special recognition to the following faculty for specific areas of excellence:

  • Lisa Oakes, Professor, Department of Psychology, for mentorship and service to graduate student well-being.
  • Tamara Swaab, Professor, Department of Psychology, for involvement in graduate student career development activities.

Here is what graduate students and postdoctoral scholars had to say about this year’s award recipients:

Aldrin Gomes
“Dr. Gomes’ commitment to helping students understand the many opportunities available at UC Davis is evident and he uses his faculty position to be a force of enlightenment and change by opening up opportunities to students who may have never known of the intellectual and life options that abound at our university.”

Maja Makagon
“She has been an outstanding mentor to the 11 authors of this letter, who have interacted with her as a graduate student or postdoctoral scholar over the last 10 years. She is deeply committed to promoting our professional development in ways that are catered to each of our individual needs. Her thoughtful mentorship style is rooted in fostering independence, linking mentees to a breadth of resources, creating a culture of encouragement and support, and providing constructive critique – all while promoting high ethical standards, particularly with regards to equity.

Adrienne Nishina
“Dr. Nishina’s mentoring is simply outstanding. Through individualized mentoring she transmits valuable knowledge that results in highly trained scholars prepared to fully engage in the professional world. Her mentees are prepared on all fronts… The value of Dr. Nishina’s mentoring is, without a doubt, immeasurable. The University is lucky to have such a dedicated mentor!”

Richard J. Sexton
“Some people are born to work with students. The Distinguished Professor, Richard
(Rich) J. Sexton, is one of them. Rich has a mix of unique professional and personal characteristics that make him an exceptional mentor and advisor. He creates an environment of safety and acceptance, where we can share our ideas and progress, without the fear of dismissal. By working with him, students are challenged to improve their research, while building confidence in themselves as researchers.”

Link to full article