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C. Wyatt Shields IV

Wyatt Shields smiles for a photo.

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring
Ph.D. Candidate (Adviser: Gabriel Lopez)
Biomedical Engineering


Wyatt Shields has been a graduate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Duke Pratt School of Engineering since 2011, earning a master’s degree in 2013. During that time, he has served as a mentor to 13 undergraduate students and 3 master’s students. Like his faculty adviser, Gabriel Lopez, Shields understands the importance of training members from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds in research and has sought out opportunities to do so in his mentoring activities.

Shields is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and an NSF Research Triangle Research MRSEC Fellow, and he has twice received the Exceptional Student Award from the International Society for the Advancement of Cytometry, an international honor that is awarded to one Ph.D. student each year. In 2014, he received an NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Award to study in Sweden.


“My hope is to be a versatile mentor. There is no one stereotype for what a good researcher should look like. For me, mentoring really boils down to getting to know your students, observing how they perform in the lab, and tailoring your interactions to highlight their strengths.”

On why he makes time for mentoring


On how he gets to know his mentees



Excerpts from Shields’s Nominations

“In my 22 years as a professor, I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as an advisor to 54 graduate students, 40 postdoctoral fellows and over 70 undergraduates. Thus, it is with significance when I say that Wyatt Shields is, far and away, the most effective, exceptional and—bottom line—phenomenal graduate student mentor that I have ever known, in my research group or any other.”

“During the last two years that I have been a graduate student, he has not only been a good science mentor, but also a role model in skills such as time management, organization, efficiency, and leadership.”

“It’s probably because I got to work with him that I really fell in love with research and decided to apply to graduate school myself. And now, even though I have graduated and left Duke, Wyatt still checks in periodically with me and gives helpful advice to me as a first-year graduate student.”

“There are very few people that are capable of pulling together a lab like he does …. Wyatt establishes an easy rapport with undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors alike. He understands people well and has an affable personality that allows him to engage with those he works with.”


List of 2016 Dean's Award recipient