Four faculty members honored for commitment to graduate student mentorship

Sreeganga Chandra, Jennifer Allen, Marynel Vázquez, and Grace Kao were recognized with Graduate Mentor Awards from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Sreeganga Chandra, Jennifer Allen, Marynel Vázquez, and Grace Kao

Sreeganga Chandra, Jennifer Allen, Marynel Vázquez, and Grace Kao

Four Yale faculty members have been honored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) with this year’s Graduate Mentor Awards for outstanding commitment to advising and student support.

The winners are Sreeganga Chandra, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine; Jennifer Allen, associate professor of history in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); Marynel Vázquez, assistant professor of computer science at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science; and Grace Kao, the IBM Professor of Sociology and professor of ethnicity, race and migration at FAS.

The Graduate Mentor Awards recognize our faculty’s extraordinary commitment to fostering the intellectual and professional growth of Yale’s graduate students,” said GSAS Dean Lynn Cooley. “Each of the recipients embodies the highest ideals of our academic community, inspiring both excellence and innovation among the next generation of scholars.”

Originally developed in conjunction with the Graduate Student Assembly, the graduate school’s student government, the awards began in 2008 and are the university’s principal recognition for superb teaching, advising, and mentoring of graduate students.

Students are invited to nominate faculty members for the award every February. One award is given in each of four divisions: biological sciences, humanities, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences.

Winners are chosen by a committee of students and faculty. This year’s awards will be presented during the GSAS convocation on May 19.

Sreeganga Chandra (Biological Sciences)

Sreeganga Chandra’s research focuses on synaptic biology and neurodegeneration. Student nominations highlighted her unflagging support of their work in the Chandra Lab. She pairs rigor, detailed and constructive feedback, and high expectations with generosity and approachability, they said, thereby modeling ideal mentorship by focusing on their development as whole humans, not just as researchers.

Jennifer Allen (Humanities)

Jennifer Allen’s work focuses on modern Germany, in particular late-20th-century cultural practices. She was praised by students for her deep commitment to pedagogy and for her intellectual generosity. Keenly attentive to students’ development as scholars and future leaders in the field, she was credited with shaping them into stronger writers, thinkers, and mentors in their own right.

Marynel Vázquez (Physical Sciences and Engineering)

Marynel Vázquez’s research focuses on human-robot interaction. She leads the Yale Interactive Machines Group. Her students emphasized her infectious optimism and confidence-inspiring support of their research and teaching. They praised her dedication to their professional development, as well as her kindness, patience, and consideration of their academic and personal growth.

Grace Kao (Social Sciences)

Grace Kao is the director of the Center for Empirical Research on Stratification and Inequality. Her research focuses on racial, ethnic, and immigrant differences in education outcomes and transitions to adulthood; interracial friendships and romantic relationships; the sociology of music; and dating and marriage in South Korea. She was lauded by students for her dedication to their professional development — opening doors by encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration and mentoring them through the publication process — and for inspiring their excitement for the field and the profession.

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