On May 20, the Graduate School Assembly and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences presented Graduate Mentor Awards to three leading faculty advisors, representing the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Every year, the selection committee receives dozens of letters nominating advisors across the graduate school, citing not only their performance as outstanding scholars in their fields, but also their dedication to teaching, mentoring, and professionalizing graduate students.
This year’s winners were Crystal Feimster, Valentina Greco, and Claire Bowern. Wendy Herman, Chair of the GSA, presented the awards to the three winners.
Crystal Feimster is Associate Professor of African American Studies, History and American Studies at Yale University. Professor Feimster’s academic focus is racial and sexual violence; currently, she is completing a project on rape during the American Civil War. Her book, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching, focuses on two women journalists, Ida B. Wells, who campaigned against lynching, and Rebecca Latimer Felton, who urged white men to prove their manhood by lynching black men accused of raping white women.
“I am deeply honored to be recognized by the graduate students that I have had the amazing privilege to work with and mentor at Yale,” said Professor Feimster, regarding the award. “I was fortunate during my own graduate career to have an advisor and (wo)mentors who supported my intellectual, professional, and personal growth, who believed in me when I did not, and who ultimately modeled for me the kind of graduate mentor that I aspire to be.”
Graduate students offered warm praise for Professor Feimster:
“Professor Feimster is invested in ensuring that her students have ample professional opportunities. She has on numerous occasions introduced me to scholars in the fields of history, African Studies, and African American Studies,” wrote one student. “She even invited me to join her in meeting activist trailblazers of the civil rights movement, such as Diane Nash.”
“Professor Feimster’s commitment to writing the histories of people, especially Black women, who are so often excluded or erased from the archive is a source of continual inspiration to me. Her course on African American Women’s History has shaped the way I think about my own research,” wrote another student. “While in this course, I learned a great deal not only about African American Women’s History, but also about how to facilitate a seminar. Professor Feimster gives students the space to speak, but always reminds us to stay engaged with the texts at hand and to constantly articulate the questions we have about the readings and about the larger themes of the course.”
Valentina Greco is currently an Associate Professor in the Genetics, Cell Biology and Dermatology Departments, and a member of the Yale Stem Cell Center and Yale Cancer Center at the Medical School of Yale University (2009-present). In 2016, Dr. Greco received the 2016 Early Career Award from the American Society for Cell Biology.
Valentina’s efforts were greatly appreciated by students:
“Having Valentina as a mentor, role model, and friend, has made me a stronger scientist and a better woman. She has always seen all of us as unique individuals, and that makes all the difference. Her recognition of our individuality, as well as her amazing efforts to support us professionally and personally, have made my PhD journey very productive, but more importantly to me, it has also made my journey happy,” wrote one current student about Professor Greco. “The only negative thing I will take away from having Valentina as my mentor is that I will be forever spoiled, as I don't think it is possible for me to ever have another mentor as incredible.”
“It is a tremendous and humbling recognition to receive this award,” said Professor Greco about the award. “When I learned the news, I felt deeply cared for by my trainees, whom I am supposed to care for! That switch in role, where they took time to write about how they felt about their relationship with me, it’s an incredible fulfilling accomplishment that will accompany me for the rest of my life.”
Claire Bowern is Professor of Linguistics, and focuses on morphology, field linguistics, historical linguistics, and linguistic variation, with a special focus on Australian languages.
“The award was a complete surprise and I'm honored,” said Professor Bowern, regarding the award. “I get a lot out of working with graduate students and it's always great to see the wonderful things they do. In my research group, I strive to make it a supportive place to work, one where we can all do fantastic research—and the research is better because of that environment.”
Students praised Claire’s dedication to her students:
“Claire has involved me with her lab research since my very first semester. She is now the chair of my dissertation committee. Through work in her lab, I've learned new approaches and been part of projects that have made me a better scholar and a more competitive applicant for the academic market,” wrote one graduate student.
“In her capacity as DGS, Claire’s been instrumental in generating an environment where the stake of graduate students in department life is recognized. She’s been receptive to our suggestions and critiques of the department and advocated for us to this end,” wrote another student. “She’s added to her workload by holding professional development seminars, by running directed courses on academic publishing, and by ensuring that all graduate students in the department are adequately supported as much as possible.”