Ling Huang, PhD, associate professor of chemistry in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Hofstra College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been named the 2018 Mentor of the Year, an annual award that honors outstanding faculty supervision of advanced undergraduate research.
“Being a good mentor is one of the most important metrics of being a good professor and teacher,” said Dr. Huang, who has taught at Hofstra since 2009. “The mentorship role is a critical hinge on which students mature and make life-changing career decisions. This is what my own mentors did for me, and now it’s so rewarding to see my students achieve their potential, exceed expectations, and succeed in their careers.”
Now in its seventh year, the Mentor of the Year award is given to a full-time faculty member who has guided students toward developing original ideas for research in any discipline – from the laboratory or clinic to the library, field, or stage — as they prepare to make the transition from their undergraduate years to graduate studies or professional life.
In addition to teaching chemistry courses and supervising undergraduate research, Dr. Huang is the director of advanced instrumentation, supervising the care of more than three dozen pieces of sophisticated equipment in the Chemistry Department’s laboratories. He also handles alumni relations, creating a network of 170 Hofstra graduates and faculty in chemistry, biochemistry, and forensic science on LinkedIn. This year, Dr. Huang also volunteered as an American Chemical Society (ACS) coach at Freeport High School, helping its science department improve the chemistry lab curriculum and research course.
“I’m very excited and humbled,” Dr. Huang said of being named Mentor of the Year. “I have many colleagues who deserve this award, and I’m honored to be recognized and represent the Chemistry Department, where a lot of exciting research is happening with many talented students. I’m so grateful for the continuous support from all across the University. This award is truly a team effort.”
Keegan Rogers’18, who is graduating with high honors this month for research that he conducted for more than two years with Dr. Huang, says his professor pushed him to be “the best student, researcher, and person” that he could be.
“Normally, one would imagine that a mentor would dictate the process to his mentee, but Dr. Huang was more interested in having me get to an area of understanding myself, with his facilitation,” Rogers said. “In this way, Dr. Huang spoke to me and treated me like I was his peer. The research became ours, and he even encouraged me to go to places with it that he hadn’t necessarily thought about. I have learned skills from him that I will carry throughout the rest of my academic training and life, and as a direct result of Dr. Huang’s outstanding advising, I am honored to have been accepted into a fully funded PhD program in toxicology.”
Read what other students and alumni who nominated Dr. Huang said about his strong guidance:
Dr. Huang inspired me to pursue a PhD and gave me the experience necessary to be successful. He is not only attentive and nurturing of his students, but he also challenges them to think creatively and push themselves in order to develop as better scientists.
He encouraged me to prepare my results to present as a poster presentation at the annual ACS conference in San Diego as well as at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium. The experience I gained by participating in these poster sessions and by defending my honors thesis were invaluable practice for presentations I have had to do during my graduate career.
He provided me with the proper amount of guidance while giving me the freedom to develop the research in a positive way. When I graduated, he recommended me for a chemist position at a local pharmaceutical company where I was able to apply the education I received at Hofstra to a real world environment. The experience I received due to his recommendation was instrumental in getting hired by the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory where I currently work as a forensic drug chemist.
My research required the use of an analytical instrument known as a high-performance liquid chromatograph, which is difficult to gain exposure to outside of a research or work environment. Not only was I able to gain knowledge on how to utilize this instrument but I was also encouraged to work with Dr. Huang to repair/troubleshoot the hardware and software for this and other instruments throughout the lab. He was always happy to help where he could and was excited to show me new instruments or to let me help repair older ones. This opportunity adds a great deal of value when searching for employment.
Dr. Huang is not only concerned with teaching the appropriate material, but also ensuring that his students were prepared for life beyond school.
Dr. Huang’s dedication to his students and his ever-growing knowledge of his field has left a positive influence on me which I take with me through my career and everyday life.
The Mentor of the Year award reaffirms Hofstra’s recognition of advanced undergraduate research and dedicated faculty supervision as part of its commitment to teaching excellence, said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Neil H. Donahue.
Dr. Huang will be presented with the Mentor of the Year award at the Celebration of Scholarly Excellence ceremony on Friday, May 18, 2018. Previous winners of this award include philosophy professor Christopher Eliot, political science professor Paul Fritz, global studies and geography professors James Wiley and Kari Jensen, media studies professor Mary Ann Allison, and biology professor Justin DiAngelo.