The Excellence in Mentoring Award recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated mastery of the broad spectrum of activities associated with outstanding mentoring of graduate students in the School of Marine Science.
The 2020 award goes to Dr. Jian Shen.
Jian has served as major or co-major advisor for 10 VIMS students since joining VIMS in 2002. In addition, he has served on the graduate committees of 27 VIMS students and 11 doctoral students from other universities. He has also supervised a William & Mary undergraduate’s honor thesis and hosted more than two dozen postdoctoral researchers and visiting scientists. His nomination for this award was supported by a dozen current and former VIMS graduate students and two doctoral students from other institutions.
Jian provides highly relevant research and training experiences for the next generation of numerical modelers of estuarine and coastal waters. His advisees describe him as a smart, positive, and caring person of high integrity. Jian supports students from every angle. He encourages their independence and has the wisdom to help each student find and build on their strengths. His students know they can count on him to brainstorm new ideas, get through bottlenecks, and chart a career path. In a modeling world where “bugs are everywhere,” he will help a student work through complex code line-by-line.
Jian’s generosity extends past his own advisees and has allowed students from inside and outside VIMS to strengthen their science in areas as diverse as oceanography, fisheries, and ecosystem modeling. As one student put it, Jian inspired him to “live boldly and push to become a better scientist.” It is not surprising that Jian’s advisees flourish at VIMS and go on to successful careers.
Like other great mentors, Jian’s focus is on holistic student development tailored to individual needs. Whether he is helping a student transition to graduate studies in the US or helping his group navigate a pandemic, students feel comfortable sharing their concerns and seeking his guidance.
We are very pleased to present Dr. Jian Shen with this Award.