“Great mentors are inspiring, instill confidence, and help you see the bigger picture. Great mentors do not aspire to create copies of themselves, instead they recognize the value, strength, and aspiration of each individual and actively help them achieve their personal career goals. Great mentors launch you on the path of becoming an established independent researcher and future collaborator.”


Mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral scholars is not part of the curriculum in graduate schools. It’s a role that is passed on from one generation of faculty to the next.

Goals of the PDA Postdoctoral Mentoring Award

Support high-quality mentors by providing public recognition of their mentoring excellence, both to raise their profile within the university community and to help them attract strong future postdocs and graduate students.

Provide a positive forum for UCLA postdoctoral scholars to discuss the impact of mentoring in their work, and to express gratitude to remarkable mentors who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping them develop successful careers.

Enable the university to identify and recognize faculty who are excellent mentors to their postdoctoral researchers and other trainees. Mentoring has its foundations in research, teaching, and service; therefore, exceptional mentors typically represent the highest expression of the goals of the university community.

Empower future postdoctoral scholars in selecting prospective postdoctoral mentors who have a proven track record of successful mentoring relationships with trainees.

To promote the importance of mentoring as the interactions between faculty mentors and postdoctoral scholars play a key role in the development of a postdoc.


Nominees must be a current faculty member at UCLA. A nomination must come from a current or recent postdoctoral researcher at UCLA. The postdoc may nominate a faculty member regardless of whether that faculty member serves as their primary formal advisor. Only one nomination package will be considered per faculty nominee. If multiple postdocs wish to nominate the same faculty member, they must prepare and cosign a single nomination package.

Nomination requirements: The postdoc must provide the information requested in the Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award Nomination Form (Google Form), as well as a nomination letter of no more than 800 words describing the impact of the nominee’s mentorship on their postdoctoral experience (See selection criteria below). The letter can be entered into the google form or sent by email.

Submit nominations no later than 5:00 PM on 8/11/2023. Questions related to nominations can be sent to the Mentoring Award Committee Chair, Valeria Gonzalez (pdaucla@g.ucla.edu).

Selection criteria

Awardees will be selected by the executive-board of the PDA at UCLA, based on standards for postdoctoral mentoring excellence outlined by the National Postdoctoral Association. Excellence must go beyond activities that are set by contract as the duties of a postdoc mentor, such as individual meetings once a week, providing feedback on manuscripts, allowing postdocs to develop a research program or take time off (PTO or sick days).

Excellence in mentorship refers to a mentor that:

  • Sets expectations and goals that were discussed and agreed with the postdoc.
  • Can articulate a mentorship philosophy and plan that reflects on a supportive and healthy work environment.
  • Promotes ethical behavior for conducting research, including compliance with institutional and federal regulations.
  • Adjusts behavior according with the academic, personal and professional goals and needs of the postdoc.
  • Recognize the existence of different career options for postdocs, and provides assistance and time to explore those alternatives.
  • Fosters wellbeing, respecting boundaries in terms of work-life balance.
  • Maintains effective communication with the postdoc(s), based on trust and mutual respect.
  • Promotes postdoc(s) research self-efficacy by providing sufficient opportunities to acquire the skills necessary to become an independent expert in their field.
  • Promotes professional development by encouraging (and/or financially supporting) postdocs to attend professional meetings, provide chances of networking and allowing the postdoc to spend time in related activities.
  • Reflects and takes concrete actions to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their field, respecting and embracing postdoc differences in background and trajectory.

Finalists will be identified based on the first round of nominations, and further nomination materials (including reference letters from other postdocs and/or graduate students) will be requested from the primary nominator to establish the breadth of the nominee’s mentoring history.

About the Postdoctoral Mentoring Awards

In 2012, the Society of Postdoctoral Scholars began honoring exemplary faculty mentors in recognition of the importance of excellent mentorship for postdoctoral research success. Today, through the Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award the Postdoctoral Association at UCLA continues that tradition.

UCLA faculty members are honored at the Postdoctoral Scholars & Mentors Awards Ceremony to express gratitude for their remarkable mentorship of postdoctoral scholars. Twenty-four faculty were nominated and two were selected to receive the award which is meant to recognize faculty who:

  • act as positive role models
  • develop a supportive lab or work environment
  • collaborate on the research project
  • encourage confidence and creativity
  • foster excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • help establish professional networks at this campus and others
  • actively support the transition from postdoc to independent research or other careers

2023 Excellence in Postdoctoral Mentoring Award

We also honored UCLA faculty members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping postdoctoral scholars develop successful careers.

2023 Award Recipients:

  • Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, Epidemiology
  • Paul Boutros, Human Genetics

2022 Nominees:

  • Paul Boutros, Human Genetics
  • Laura Denard, Physiology
  • Juli Feigon, Biochemistry
  • Elisa Franco, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Brigitte Gomperts, Pediatrics
  • Melody Li, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
  • Mahendra, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, Epidemiology
  • Sanjay Mohanty, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Gary Orfield, Education
  • Nicole Petersen, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
  • Maureen Su, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
  • Vlashi, Radiation Oncology
  • Kate Wassum, Psychology
  • Cun-Yu Wang, Oral and Systemic Health Sciences
  • Xia Yang, Integrative Biology and Physiology
  • Z. Hong Zhou, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
    • 2022 Award Recipients:

      • Dolores Bozovic, Physics
      • Alicia Izquierdo, Psychology
      • Aldons Lusis, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics

      2022 Nominees:

      • Olujimi Ajijola, Medicine – Cardiology
      • Dolores Bozovic, Physics
      • Laura DeNardo, Physiology
      • Sophie Deng, Ophthalmology
      • Juli Feigon, Chemistry and Biochemistry
      • Sonya Gabrielian, Psychiatry
      • Peyman Golshani, Neurology
      • Alicia Izquierdo, Psychology
      • Richard Kaner, Chemistry and Biochemistry
      • Travis Longcore, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
      • Catherine Lord, Psychiatry and Education
      • Aldons Lusis,  Microbiology, Immunogy, & Molecular Genetics
      • Shaily Mahendra, Civil and Environmental Engineering
      • Elizabeth Rose Mayeda, Epidemiology
      • Sanjay Mohanty, Civil and Environmental Engineering
      • Roxana Radu, Ophthalmology
      • Caius G. Radu, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
      • Marc Suchard, Human Genetics
      • Thomas Graeber, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
      • Kate Wassum, Psychology
      • David Williams, Ophthalmology
      • Mitchell Spearrin, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

      2020/2021 Awardees

      Clarice Aiello, Electrical and Computer Engineering

      Nominated by postdoctoral scholar: Ana Valdés Curiel

      ”Professor Aiello greatly values networking and helping her group members, both postdocs and graduate students, create lasting and meaningful connections with others within the academic community.”

      “Professor Aiello encompasses everything a postdoc and graduate student would want in an advisor. Her ability to communicate and her openness to creative ideas makes it easy for her students to succeed in academia.”

      Elaine Hsiao, Integrative Biology and Physiology

      Nominated by Jonathan Lynch

      “Dr. Elaine Hsiao is an exemplary mentor for all her trainees, and displays an especially exceptional willingness to work for the benefit of her postdoctoral trainees. During the pandemic, she has been steadying, reassuring, and maintained goal-orientation and hope for her postdoctoral and graduate trainees.”

      2020/2021 Nominees

      • Clarice Aiello, Electrical and Computer Engineering
      • Patrick Allard, Institute for Society and Genetics
      • Amander Clark, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
      • Naomi Eisenberger, Psychology
      • Chandra Ford, Community Health Sciences
      • Barbara Fuchs, Spanish and Portuguese
      • Eric Hoek, Civil and Environmental Engineering
      • Elaine Hsiao, Integrative Biology and Physiology
      • Alicia Izquierdo, Psychology
      • David Jassby, Civil and Environmental Engineering
      • Eleanor Kaufman, Comparative Literature
      • Jasper Kok, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
      • Hannah Landecker, Institute for Society and Genetics
      • Anna Lau, Psychology
      • Elizabeth Laugeson, Psychiatry
      • Sung-Jae Lee, Psychiatry
      • James Lloyd-Smith, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      • Paul Macey, Nursing 
      • Shaily Mahendra, Civil and Environmental Engineering
      • Paul Micevych, Neurobiology
      • David Miklowitz, Psychiatry
      • Elizabeth Nemeth, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care
      • James Rosenzweig, Physics and Astronomy
      • Marc Suchard, Computational Medicine and Human


      2019/2020 Awardees

      Nanthia Suthana, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

      Nominated by postdoctoral scholars: Matthias Stangl and Cory Inman

      “Nanthia gave us invaluable feedback many times, about our strengths and also about the aspects of our work that can be improved, but always in a very professional, kind and constructive way, which we believe is extremely helpful for our personal and professional development.”

      Kelly Lytle Hernandez, History and African American Studies

      Nominated by postdoctoral scholar: Paris Adkins-Jackson

      “At an interpersonal level, Dr. Lytle Hernandez has become a source of strength for myself and the other postdoctoral scholars. She advises each of us on navigating our careers and negotiating our benefits once we procure a position. Additionally, she has met with me numerous times around grant writing and community organizing. As a scholar activist, Dr. Lytle Hernandez has offered advice regarding partnering with key stakeholders to advance the needs of communities that look to our expertise for intervention.”

      “Each of us postdoctoral scholars have primary mentors in other departments, but it is the love, time, and environment that Dr. Lytle Hernandez provides that truly contributes to our scholarship and advancement as academicians.”

      2019/2020 Nominees

      • H. Clark Barrett, Anthropology
      • Catherine Cahill, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Disease
      • Amander Clark, Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
      • Jason Cong, Computer Science
      • Xiangfeng Duan, Chemistry and Biochemistry
      • Naomi Eisenberger, Psychology
      • Timu Gallien, Civil and Environmental Engineering
      • Patricia Greenfield, Psychology
      • Alexander Hoffmann, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics
      • Kirk Lohmueller, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      • Kelly Lytle Hernandez, History and Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies
      • Mayumi Prins, Neurosurgery
      • Steve Shoptaw, Family Medicine
      • Marc A. Suchard, Computational Medicine, Biostatisitcs, and Human Genetics
      • Nanthia Suthana, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences


      Past award recipients


    • Christopher Giza, Neurosurgery
    • Patricia Johnson, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics


    • Michael F. GreenPsychiatry
    • Edithe. D. London, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences; Molecular and Medical Pharmocology
    • Richard WirzMechanical and Aerospace Engineering


    • Aydogan OzcanElectrical Engineering & Bioengineering


    • Michelle CraskePsychology
    • Luisa Iruela-ArispeMolecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology


    • Douglas L. Black, Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics
    • Kendall N. Houk, Chemistry and Biochemistry


    • James BowieChemistry and Biochemistry
    • Mark CohenNeuroscience
    • Kelsey MartinBiological Chemistry


    Information on this website regarding postdoctoral scholar benefits are based on the previous UAW Bargaining Contract [ratified on 10/17/16]. For the most current information, please refer to the recently ratified contract: https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/labor/bargaining-units/px/contract.html.