The School of Integrative Plant Science is pleased to announce that Grant Thompson, PhD student in the Field of Horticulture, has been awarded the inaugural Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship. Thompson works in the program of Jenny Kao-Kniffin, investigating how land use legacy impacts soil microbial community structure and function as it relates to soil organic matter dynamics in turfgrass systems. Greater understanding of these processes will lead to more sustainable management of urban landscapes.
The Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship is supported by a current use fund of $50,000 from Mark ‘78 and Lisa ‘79 Sellew and was created to highlight the valuable role that graduate students play in contributing to the educational experience of Cornell undergraduates.
During his time in the Kao-Kniffin lab, Thompson has mentored several undergraduates including Princess Swan (BS Plant Sciences, ’15), Laura Kaminsky (BS Plant Sciences, ’17), and Michelle Chen. Kao-Kniffin wrote in Thompson’s application, “Grant worked with three different students on field and lab methodological measurements, training each student very carefully with rather complex techniques.” She added, “Grant is a very professional and mature graduate student that thinks deeply about mentoring and the impact it has on the effective training of a new generation of scientists.”
Mentee Laura Kaminsky commented, “Grant has taught me that science is truly a collaborative action. He invested himself into many facets of my project and growth as an undergraduate researcher. My research flourished as a result of his expertise and support, and I likely wouldn’t have half my data (nor the ability to interpret it) without him.” Kaminsky attributes her passion for research to her experience in the Kao-Kniffin lab. Following graduation she will be moving to Penn State University to begin work on a PhD in Environmental Microbiology.
The Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship will be awarded to a student in a different SIPS graduate field for each of five years. In subsequent years, the awardee will be selected (in order) from the Fields of Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology, Plant Biology, Soil and Crop Sciences, and Plant Breeding and Genetics.