Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Ph.D. Student in Neurobiology
Gwenaëlle Thomas is a Ph.D. candidate in neurobiology, studying the effects of antipsychotic drugs on neural activity and cognitive behaviors. She is also working toward her Certificate in College Teaching. Thomas completed her bachelor’s of science in biochemistry and molecular biology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She was named the 2020 Women’s Weekend Scholar and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Thomas has supervised seven trainees, including one Duke graduate student, four undergraduates, and two visiting summer students. She is a coach for Duke Building Opportunities and Overtures in Science and Technology, through which she mentors middle school students in Durham County.
Her nominations praised her as an incredible role model and advocate for underrepresented students in STEM. She has taught a Duke University House course introducing underrepresented students to biomedical research. She is an active member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science and was president of the Duke Bouchet Society from 2017 to 2019.
“There are so many people who have poured so much love and empathy and knowledge and guidance into me to make me the mentor that I am today. … There are so much of other mentors that I see in myself now. I just know that without their leadership, their experience, their guidance, I would not be the person I am today.”
In Their Words
Excerpts from Thomas’s Nomination
“[Her] pioneering spirit has led to Gwen oftentimes being the only person in the lab who knows how to do absolutely everything, and her generous nature—willing and excited to teach others what she’s learned—has generated a massive pipeline of students learning from her both technical skills in the lab as well as less tangible but perhaps even more valuable lessons of how to be a better student, a better human being, and how to increase diversity in science by being inclusive of a wide range of personalities and viewpoints.”
“Gwen is a true ally on Duke’s campus for all marginalized students. Gwen consistently speaks up against racism, sexism, classism, ableism, transphobia, and homophobia. Gwen has mastered teaching her peers about diversity and inclusion without blaming or alienating them. Gwen is a powerful force in any room who commands as much respects as she gives.”
“Gwenaëlle’s mentorship extends well beyond the lab. She has been involved with many programs and organizations that provide mentorship to middle school, high school, and college students. Most notably, she is an amazing advocate for underrepresented minorities and uses her success as a Black woman in science to serve as a positive role model for others like her."