Dr. Pamela Lein Receives Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Award

lein lab
Dr. Pam Lein (in red with black vest) with members of her lab

by Amy Young

Dr. Pamela Lein, a professor in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s department of Molecular Biosciences, was one of 34 faculty members honored by UC Davis Graduate Studies with a Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Award.

Faculty across campus were nominated for the inaugural awards by graduate groups for outstanding excellence in advising and mentoring of graduate students. Graduate programs highlighted faculty for their service to the program, commitment to advising and mentoring, and positive impact on graduate students and colleagues. The awards are part of the new initiatives Graduate Studies has developed to highlight and promote positive advising and mentoring experiences. Advising and mentoring efforts enhance graduate student retention and well-being, allowing graduate students to successfully navigate and thrive in graduate programs.

Lein is a very active member of the graduate group in Pharmacology and Toxicology (PTX) and was nominated by colleagues for her broad commitment to early career mentoring. In her research laboratory, students study topics related to cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurotoxicology, gene by environment interactions that influence susceptibility to neurodevelopmental disorders, and the role of the autonomic nervous system in environmentally induced asthma and cardiovascular disease, among others. Her colleagues note that “her students are well supported with training that is rigorous and encourages their development and post graduate placement.”

Hailed as “a consistent advocate for students,” Lein has been active in intensively mentoring students, particularly in PTX, since her arrival on campus in 2008. Over her career at UC Davis, she has mentored nine early career faculty, 13 postdoctoral fellows and 18 graduate students while also serving on many qualifying exams and thesis/dissertation committees. Lein is the principal investigator and director of the UC Davis National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-funded T32 training grant in Environmental Health Sciences and is on the training faculty of four additional NIH-funded T32 training grants at UC Davis. She also leads the Career Development Program in the NIEHS Core Center at UC Davis, which has a focus on early career faculty development.

Colleagues describe Lein as “an incredible leader and scientist who goes above and beyond,” and “a passionate neurotoxicologist who holds her students to very high standards.” Her students share that “her excitement for science is inspiring and infectious, and she consistently encourages our professional and intellectual development.”

“This award means much to me because I consider mentoring graduate students to be one of the most important things I do as a faculty member, and it gives me the most satisfaction,” Lein said. “Graduate students are the future of the scientific enterprise and of society. Their energy, curiosity, and desire to make the world a better place keep me going, and challenge me to be not only a better scientist, but also a better person. In turn, mentors play an important role during this stage of a graduate student’s career when they are transitioning to becoming independent thinkers, serving as models and sounding boards for graduate students.”

Congratulations Dr. Lein!