WOOSTER, Ohio – Amy Jo Stavnezer, chair of the neuroscience program and associate professor of psychology at The College of Wooster, was the recent recipient of the “2019 Mentor Award” from the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN). The award is given from time-to-time to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions as mentors for young neuroscientists.
For Stavnezer, who was presented the honor by FUN past president Hewlet McFarlane during the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting on Oct. 20, the award was validating. “The biggest thing is the acknowledgement of what I value very deeply with a Wooster education … supporting students in that mentorship role. That definitely is what’s called to me from the Wooster mission and it feels very nice to be recognized with what I think I try to do,” she said.
McFarlane, a professor of neuroscience at Kenyon College, noted there were a higher number of nominations, yet Stavnezer stood out among the talented field. “She has mentored many new and aspiring faculty members through the process of discernment of their career goals and paths. We are amazed at the number of her former trainees who attended the annual meeting to present their own research after having moved on from her laboratory. Their presence at the meeting means that they have stayed in the field and are now producers of scientific knowledge. This is surely a stellar record in mentoring future neuroscientists,” he stated.
Stavnezer confirmed there were more than a dozen Wooster alumni from the neuroscience program presenting their research at the annual meeting, plus a number of current Wooster students in attendance, which added to her excitement when it was announced she won the “2019 Mentor Award.”
Stavnezer, a behavioral neuroscientist who works mainly with mice and rats, has been a faculty member at Wooster since 2002 and served as a mentor for 75 or so Independent Study projects. She is “always thinking about how to bring students into the lab and how to engage students in research,” then for her to observe alumni presenting at such conferences serves as a gratifying “long-term consequence of I.S.”
In addition to her work at Wooster, Stavnezer has been involved in a number of professional development and community outreach initiatives, including serving as president, secretary, and councilor of FUN.
FUN is an organization focused on neuroscience education and research at the undergraduate level, and its members and supporters include businesses and professional organizations, private liberal arts colleges, state and research university departments and programs, and individual faculty and students.