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Clayton and Delaney Honored for Advising and Mentoring

Advising and mentoring has never been more important than it is now as the Graduate School honors two Brown faculty for their inspiring work.

Michelle Clayton, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature and the Director of Graduate Studies for Hispanic Studies was selected for 2020 Graduate School Faculty Awards for Advising and Mentoring. She is lauded by students for the sage advice she provides for their academic and professional endeavors. 

“As Director of Graduate Studies, she guided me through course selection, including expanding my theoretical and critical knowledge by introducing me to work by professors outside of our field. Later, she properly prepared me and my peers for our preliminary exams with specific strategies, advice, and learning goals. She also invited me to give lectures and discussion topics in her own classes, graciously sharing her experience and knowledge with me, says Ian Russell ’20 PhD. 

As an interdisciplinary scholar herself, Clayton encourages students to stretch their horizons and has individually guided them to seminars in departments across the humanities, shares Laura Bass, Associate Professor and Chair of Hispanic Studies. “I should emphasize that she does this for all our students and not just ones working in her areas of expertise.” 

Clayton has also developed a number of initiatives for graduate students, including a monthly departmental colloquium where faculty and graduate students can present their work and the opportunity for mock job talk practices. 

Bass also emphasizes Clayton’s work as a dissertation advisor and committee member. Her students benefit greatly from her incisive mind, her vast knowledge of literature and theory, and her meticulous attention to writing. 

Clayton shares this of her role as a teaching and mentor, “my goal is to help students read creatively across a wide variety of texts, artworks and contexts, to identify their passions and develop the tools to analyze them in meaningful and articulate ways, while feeling well-supported and connected to one another through their time with us and beyond. I learn so much in turn from their wide-ranging investigations, their generosity, their collaborative spirit. I’m enormously proud to be a part of this community, and very touched by this award.” 

The second Advising and Mentoring awardee is Professor of Chemistry, Sarah Delaney. She was nominated by the entire Chemistry Graduate Student Leadership Committee, as well as additional faculty, students, and alums.

“It has been our greatest pleasure working with Dr. Delaney since our group’s conception, initiated by Dr. Delaney’s desire to enhance graduate researcher’s voices within the department. Dr. Delaney’s drive to support our current and future endeavors has boundlessly bolstered our efforts, and she continues to motivate us and her colleagues in her roles as professor, current DGS, and friend,” says the committee.

The students detail her regularly scheduled check-ins, office hours and specifically her support of underrepresented students as noticed efforts. “Dr. Delaney’s openness to questions and creation of a supportive, inclusive environment gave students confidence and assurance that their voices were heard.”

In addition to the recognition from graduate students, Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair, Lai-Sheng Wang, shares a lengthy list of programming and support initiatives Delaney has instituted since coming into her DGS role in 2018. These include, first-year peer mentoring, increased frequency of advising for first-year students, supplemental course resources, Journal Club (a weekly scientific presentation by a graduate student), Coffee Hour (a breakfast-time gathering of students, faculty and staff), Colloquium Reception (a short meeting of the department with a weekly seminar speaker), professional development workshops, and the recent revitalization of the Graduate Student Leadership Committee. Delaney was also recently promoted to Professor of Chemistry, effective on July 1. 

Delaney shares, I learn so much from and feel so enriched by the graduate students in my research group and throughout the chemistry department. It is a great honor to be recognized with this award.”

While it has not been possible to honor these awardees in person this spring, the efforts of Clayton and Delaney to mentor, advice, and support graduate students is widely appreciated and noted.