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2010 Dean’s Award: Laurie Stevison

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Laurie Stevison, a doctoral student in the department of Biology, received her B.S. in Biophysics from Centenary College of Louisiana in 2005 and her M.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rice University in 2007.  Her research is broadly focused on the causes and consequences of recombination rate variation in Drosophila. Whether she is mentoring undergraduates and new graduate students, volunteering her time in local high schools, or working with the Girl Scouts in the broader Durham community, Laurie’s nominations exemplify how her dedication and positivity make her a role model for all, not just in her service, but in her scholastic and research excellence.
It’s hard to imagine the lab without Laurie.  She is always there to lend undergraduates or new graduate students a hand in anything. . . . Her students benefit from her helpful, clear, and lucid explanations, elaborating beyond what the instructor told them in order to engage them further. They appreciate her insights and seek her out for advice regarding the course or careers in general.

I always find myself inspired by Laurie’s encouragement and assured that I can turn to her when I need a supportive but critical appraisal of my work. Laurie truly exemplifies the openness and accessibility of a collaborative researcher who thrives on sharing ideas, and when speaking to prospective students, I consistently cite working with her as an example of the cross-talk that fosters the creativity and dialogue distinguishing Duke as a leading research institution.

Laurie’s astounding patience, optimism, and kindness creates a pleasant and supportive working environment.  Even in her busiest days, she checks in on all members of the lab and offers her assistance with a smile. She greets each setback with a positive attitude, viewing any mistake I make as helpful knowledge for the future.

Laurie stands out as a leader in our lab. Her technical knowledge and critical thinking abilities are superb, and she is always willing to share this knowledge with others. Her outgoing and cheerful personality make her quite approachable, creating an atmosphere in which undergraduates, graduate students, and post doctoral fellows feel comfortable in seeking her advice and friendship. I know for a fact that she strives to be this way, for in her personal budget for a grant she received, she wrote in money to pay for an undergraduate student. I have seen Laurie train and mentor this student and have found Laurie to be a patient, encouraging, and proud teacher.

By creating a supportive and personal learning environment, the individuals to whom Laurie is a mentor gain confidence, seek guidance regarding research and career goals, and develop a true sense of excitement about science.