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Graça Vicente, Louisiana State University

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.

Dr. Vicente's adult life has been a mentoring activity-from her days as an undergraduate all the way through to her appointment as a distinguished member of Louisiana State University's (LSU) professoriate. She is currently the only female faculty member endowed as a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. The students she has mentored in her research laboratories now hold leadership and mentoring positions as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty in academia, government officials, and scientists in industrial laboratories, or are pursuing graduate, post-graduate or medical degrees. Her mentoring is based on a progressive mentoring model and a long-term, trusting relationship that she develops with each mentee. She designs individualized mentoring plans that meet the needs and interests of each mentee, supporting and advising them through every stage of their careers, motivating, encouraging and empowering them, and instilling in them confidence and a passion for mentoring others. She has personally mentored 64 students in her laboratory.

In 2007, she became the LSU program director for the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD), which has provided research training, academic development, mentoring opportunities, and career development to students from groups underrepresented in the STEM disciplines (66 undergraduate and graduate students since 2007). IMSD students develop their academic and technical skills in the research laboratories of LSU faculty mentors, and are involved in collaborative learning and mentoring. Dr. Vicente works with program staff to develop training activities, educational mentoring plans, and creation of opportunities for the students to enhance their skills, network, and interact with each other and faculty. Her program also includes seminars, workshops, outreach and site visits that meet the needs and interests of each student.

Under her leadership, the IMSD program is expanding LSU outreach activities, strengthening the research and mentoring programs of LSU faculty, promoting collaborative projects, strengthening the faculty publication record and competitiveness for research awards, and increasing student competitiveness for graduate programs, medical school, and leadership mentoring positions across the nation. LSU' s Department of Chemistry has become the leading producer of doctoral degrees in chemistry by African-Americans in the U.S. Upon graduation, IMSD scholars enter graduate programs (44 percent), medical school or combined M.D./Ph.D. degrees (22 percent), or entered professional careers (for example, middle school science teaching).

Dr. Vicente engages faculty in co-mentoring and provides opportunities for students and faculty to meet and interact, and partly as a result of this, she has been highly successful in obtaining extramural research funding for multidisciplinary collaborative projects that support the research of numerous undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students. As principal investigator, she has been awarded three research grants from NSF and six grants from NIH, and a number of teaching and mentoring awards, most recently the 2015 LSU Foundation Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award. She encourages and mentors her students to present their research, to apply for fellowships and grants, and to develop their collaborative relationships. Her student mentees have obtained multiple awards and fellowships in their own right.