Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY — Justin DiAngelo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, has been named this year’s Mentor of the Year, a new award in its second year which honors outstanding faculty supervision of advanced undergraduate research. Based in part on letters of nomination by students and colleagues, the prize is given to a full-time faculty member who has guided students, both professionally and academically, toward developing original ideas for research.
Dr. DiAngelo teaches courses in cell biology and genetics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and endocrinology. The research in his lab focuses on the ability of an animal to sense changes in its nutrient environment and adapt its behavior and metabolism accordingly. Defects in these processes can result in inappropriate increases in food consumption and fat storage, which can lead to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, some of the leading causes of death in the United States. Dr. DiAngelo’s research uses a combination of cellular, molecular, biochemical and genetic approaches in the fruit fly to study the responses that the body makes to changes in food availability.
“Mentoring is one of the best parts of my job,” says Dr. DiAngelo. “I really enjoy working with students one-on-one in the laboratory developing not only their ability to carry out individual experiments and analyze the data they generate, but also teaching my students how to think and communicate scientifically. I had great mentors during my undergraduate and graduate training and I am happy that I can continue to pass on the skills of how to be a scientist to the next generation of students. Receiving this award is very gratifying.”
Beverly Clendening, Ph.D., Dr. DiAngelo’s colleague in the Department of Biology, notes that he has mentored 12 research students, several of whom are now graduate students in prestigious cell and molecular biology programs. He also takes students to professional conferences to present their research, encourages them to submit their work to peer-reviewed journals, and helps them apply for funding. In the last year, three of his students have won awards for their undergraduate research.
“Dr. Justin DiAngelo has been a faculty member in the Department of Biology for three years and his influence and collaboration with student researchers has become an invaluable asset,” says Dr. Clendening. “Students are the driving force of his research program; Dr. DiAngelo carefully structures the students’ experience in order for them to learn the entire process of research.”
Dr. DiAngelo is also known for his enthusiasm and love of teaching. “He helped me to focus my attention to detail and showed me what the problem-solving aspect of science looked like in the lab,” says one student who nominated him. “As his student, you will be guided in the challenge and you will learn how to think like a scientist,” says another, while a third adds, “Working in his lab showed me that research and pure science can be enjoyable.”