Professor Jennifer Linderman has won a Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. The award is given annually to several faculty members from across the University to recognize mentors of doctoral students who “support their intellectual, creative, scholarly, and professional growth.”
Linderman serves as an enthusiastic recruiter of graduate students to the Chemical Engineering Graduate program, focusing on recruiting students to the entire program, not simply to her own research group. Linderman’s mentoring of graduate students extends also to the very successful NextProf workshops developed in engineering to encourage outstanding and diverse graduate students and postdocs from around the country, including University Michigan, to consider academia. She was part of the original planning team and all workshops from their 2012 inception to the most recent offering in fall 2016.
Within her research group, she distinguishes herself in her mentoring by her transparency, openness, and accessibility. She has frequent conversations with her students about expectations, timelines, and progress. Weekly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings are used to discuss individual progress, edit papers, and discuss future directions.
Linderman integrates discussions of academic climate and work-life balance easily into her interactions with her research group. For example, one graduate student’s husband moved to Indiana and they worked out how the student could do much of her computational work from Indiana, but with regular in-person meetings interspersed. Another student needed quite a bit of schedule flexibility to accommodate a baby and a husband with a rigid schedule, and together she and Linderman worked out a way to do this.
Inherent in Linderman’s mentoring style is her dedication to helping students identify and develop tools and strategies to accomplish goals. Her mentees comment on and appreciate her efforts to helping them find the right direction for their own professional futures, whether or not the direction chosen matches that of Linderman herself. One former student says “Jennifer helps those working with her to identify their strengths and weaknesses, to navigate complex personal and career choices, and truly believes that helping others succeed is her duty.”
Another former student regards Linderman’s mentorship as “critical to [her] intellectual and professional development,” offering “I believe it is the foundation of my success. As a professor now myself, I aspire to be the type of mentor to my students that Jennifer Linderman has been to me.” She also adds that she still calls Linderman for advice and she never hesitates to help.
Professor Linderman is professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, and serves as the director of the ADVANCE Program. From 2014-2016, she was the Associate Dean for Graduate Education in Michigan Engineering. She will receive her award in a ceremony at Rackham next month.