2013 AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award Goes to Andrew Tsin of the University of Texas at San Antonio
Andrew Tsin has been awarded the 2013 Lifetime Mentor Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his efforts in "facilitating dramatic education and research changes at his institution, leading to a significant production of Hispanic American doctorates in the biological sciences."
Andrew Tsin | Courtesy Andrew Tsin
Tsin, who is a professor of biology and director of the Center for Research and Training in the Sciences at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), will receive his award during a 14 February ceremony at the 2014 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Ill.
An internationally recognized biochemist and cell biologist, Tsin also is a leader in science education and training programs. Over more than three decades, he has successfully mentored more than 130 students in his vision research lab, including a dozen doctoral students in the biological sciences, nine of whom are Hispanic Americans. Eleven of his Hispanic American undergraduate students also earned doctorates at other institutions.
In nominating Tsin for the award, George Perry, dean of the College of Sciences at UTSA, wrote: "Since many of our students are the first in their families to attend university, Dr. Tsin actively engages his students, and goes beyond what is expected by providing mentoring, extra assignments, and degree/career counseling that gives the extra support" that students from under-represented minorities often need. Perry added: "The significant contribution of Dr. Tsin's mentoring is evidenced in the successes of his mentees: 100% of his undergraduate and graduate students completed their degrees and have continued in their educational track or have entered successful scientific careers."
Tsin also helped UTSA obtain $68.5 million in grant funding to establish programs aimed at under-represented minorities. Perry said Tsin "has contributed more than any individual to the dramatic transformation, expansion and impact of UTSA's science education, and research and training support" for under-represented minorities.
"Dr. Tsin's goal is to see students succeed, and he will work side by side with the student to make it happen," wrote Alberto Muniz in support of Tsin's nomination. Muniz, an ocular trauma specialist at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, noted that Tsin "has never taken full credit for any of the work produced in his lab. He instead gives his students the opportunity to write papers and publish their data, no matter how long it takes or how many rewrites. Simply put, Dr. Tsin does not know how to let a student down."
Tsin has received numerous awards for excellence in mentoring, research, and teaching, including the 2010 Role Model Award from Minority Access, Inc., UTSA's 2009 Distinguished Achievement for University's Service award, and election in 2009 as a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology. In 2011, he was recognized by President Barack Obama as recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring.
Tsin received his bachelor's degree in biology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and his master's and doctoral degrees in zoology from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He did postdoctoral work in ophthalmology at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He and his students have published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals on the biochemistry of the visual cycle and cell biology of diabetic eye diseases.
Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1991, the AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizes individuals who have, for more than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students (women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) toward the completion of doctoral studies and/or significantly affected the climate of a department, college or institution, or field in such a manner as to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing doctorates in the sciences. Also considered are nominees' demonstrated scholarship, activism and community building. The award includes a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and complimentary registration for the AAAS Annual Meeting.
The AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award will be will be bestowed upon Tsin during the 180th AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Ill., 13-17 February 2014. A ceremony and reception will be held in the Rouge Room of the Fairmont Chicago Hotel on Friday, 14 February at 6:15 p.m.
Each year, the AAAS Board of Directors also bestows a Mentor Award, in addition to the Lifetime Mentor Award. The Mentor Award this year will go to Paul B. Tchounwou, who serves as associate dean of graduate and international programs in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. Tchounwou was honored "for his transformative impact and contributions towards the production of African American doctorates in the field of environmental sciences."