Associate Professor Sandra Simpkins has been awarded the 2019 School of Education Faculty Mentorship Award for Inclusive Excellence in recognition of her significant impact, through formal and informal mentoring, on the success of under-represented minority (URM) students.
School of Education faculty and students submitted nominations for the award. The following summarizes the submission comments in support of Dr. Simpkins' nomination.
As Senate faculty, Simpkins is advising a diverse group of eight doctoral students, including three URM students and four international students for whom English is not their first language, in addition to supervising two international post-doctoral students. She organizes and leads weekly lab meetings, encourages her advisees to present and discuss their research, and meets individually with students on a weekly basis to provide critiques of their work and also check in on how their classwork and life are going.
Simpkins has provided opportunities for students to join School research projects funded by the Templeton and Mott Foundations. Students are gaining not only advanced research experience but also benefiting from Simpkins' modeling how to organize lab groups, track progress on projects, provide useful feedback in a supportive way, and create and maintain a strong and supportive working community of scholars.
Simpkins has excelled in three additional areas of contribution. First, as chair of the Ph.D. admissions committee for four years, Simpkin guided the School in admitting a diverse community of talented doctoral students. Second, as the professor teaching the course preparing Ph.D. students for their second year culminating paper, Simpkins provides intensive support for those students struggling with the level of academic writing that this milestone requires. Third, the focus of Simpkins' research – afterschool programming and STEM learning and motivation for URM students – is providing important insights in program delivery and engagement for this segment of our population.
As indicated above, Simpkins has been a key factor in increasing the visibility of the UCI School of Education as a place where important research is occurring in an inclusive, supporting environment.