The 2017 recipient of the Utah State University Outstanding Graduate Mentor of the Year Award is Alexander Boldyrev. The award is given annually as a recognition of faculty members who support their students academically, professionally and personally. Awardees must encourage degree completion, ethical behavior and use of university resources. They must also provide emotional support and offer criticism to help students grow and achieve.
“Dr. Boldyrev works tirelessly to ensure that his students receive the best research training possible,” said Mark McLellan, vice president of research and dean of graduate studies. “We are happy that he is being recognized for the influence he has had in his students’ careers.”
This year, the office of Research and Graduate Studies will recognize Boldyrev for his work as a mentor to students. As a professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, Boldyrev has supervised 11 doctoral students. Some have become researchers at elite universities such as Yale and University of California at Berkeley. He has also supervised three master’s students, all who have become doctorate students around the United States.
“It is important to stress the contributions of Alex to the accomplishments of his students,” said Alvan Hengge, head of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Alex identifies the research interests of each student, designs a long-term project for them, teaches them how to apply computational methods, guides them in data interpretation, helps them write up papers for publication and explains how to respond to reviewer comments.”
According to Ivan Popov, Boldyrev finds it important to make a personal connection with his students in order to guarantee success in their careers.
“His fatherly attitude and willingness to offer help at any time closed the distance between Utah and my home and enabled me to begin working on projects more effectively than ever,” said Popov, a current doctoral student in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. “His open-door policy has always made me feel so comfortable that I always thought of Dr. Boldyrev as my colleague.”
Boldyrev works to foster professional communication in order to prepare students for their career advancements.
“Dr. Boldyrev has always provided me with honest feedback on my ideas and helped me to discern whether a project has the potential to be realized and published, or should fail,” said Jared Olsen, a past graduate student of Boldyrev. “This skill will inevitably help me in my career as I advance past my graduate studies.”
Anastassia Alexandrova, now a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, had a similar experience as a doctoral student with Boldyrev.
“When I was a student in USU, Alex made sure I published, attended scientific meetings, networked and kept my mind open,” Alexandrova said. “He gave me an excellent start. Actually, everyone in his group gets an excellent start. Alex is an incredible mentor, scientist and a citizen of the world. His research is top class, and his group is well taken care of, at the level that can make any student in any university jealous.”
In addition to receiving the Outstanding Graduate Mentor of the Year Award, Boldyrev has previously received the D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award and the Utah State University College of Science Researcher of the Year Award. His academic articles have been cited 6,492 times since 2012.
Each year at the Research Week Awards Gala, the Outstanding Graduate Mentor of the Year is honored and receives a $2,000 award, as well as a citation commemorating their excellent work with students.