Last February, Angela Wandinger-Ness, a pathologist who serves as associate director for education, training and mentoring at the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, received the 2020 Lifetime Mentor Award from AAAS.
The annual award honors researchers who, for 25 years or more, have positively impacted the atmosphere of a department or institution by mentoring students from communities that are underrepresented in STEM fields, including women, African American, Native American and Hispanic men, and people with disabilities. For nearly three decades — seven years at Northwestern University and 21 years at UNM — Wandinger-Ness has worked to increase the diversity of students pursuing doctoral studies in pathology and guide her trainees toward becoming successful scientists and effective mentors in their own right.
“Dr. Wandinger-Ness was an incredible mentor to me, providing personal and professional guidance throughout my time in her laboratory and beyond,” wrote Mary-Pat Stein, professor of biology at California State University, Northridge, in an award nomination letter. “Many of the lessons that I learned from Dr. Wandinger-Ness have stuck with me as I have mentored students in my own laboratory.”
Through her research on GTPase enzymes and their potential as targets for cancer drugs, Wandinger-Ness has engaged dozens of underrepresented minority trainees, including 15 bachelor’s and master’s students who have gone on to earn doctorate degrees, 26 Ph.D. students and 53 postdoctoral fellows. In all, she has mentored approximately 270 scientists.
Wandinger-Ness also directs two training programs at UNM that are funded by the National Institutes of Health. One of the initiatives provides Native American high school students and undergraduates with cancer research experiences, while the other builds the teaching and mentoring skills of women and underrepresented minority postdoctoral fellows.
AAAS will announce the winner of the 2021 Lifetime Mentor Award during the 187th AAAS Annual Meeting, to take place virtually Feb. 8-11. Register for the meeting today.