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Missouri S&T professor awarded President’s Award for Mentoring

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John Fougere

Chief Communications Officer

University Relations

Apr 09, 2014

Award recognizes faculty who have provided exemplary mentoring to other university faculty

ROLLA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Hank Foley today awarded one of the UM System President’s Awards to Yinfa Ma, Curators’ Teaching Professor of chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology.  

Foley — in front of faculty gathered for a departmental meeting — surprised Ma with the President’s Award for Mentoring, which includes a $5,000 award. The award recognizes faculty who have provided exemplary mentoring to fellow faculty within the university. The award marks the eighth of 11 to be presented in 2014.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the University of Missouri System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university.

President’s Award for Mentoring

Yinfa Ma, Ph.D.

Curators’ Teaching Professor

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Dr. Yinfa Ma mentors the next generation of chemists and professors. Undergraduate students, doctoral candidates and associate professors all have stories of how Ma’s mentorship directly set them up for their future successes.

A native of rural China, Ma is an expert at helping young, non-native science professors create an engaging classroom environment. Ma is known for observing classes of budding professors and later sharing notes on how they can more effectively teach and engage all the students in their class. Ma’s own passionate teaching style — focused on practical demonstration and meaningful participation — has earned him several teaching awards, including designation as a Curators’ Teaching Professor.

“His kind and gentle manner puts students at ease to the point that the students are not even aware that they are learning,” one nominator wrote.  “Yinfa’s classes are a pleasant experience for all. There is laughter in his classrooms and research labs while learning and conquering difficult tasks.”

In addition to mentoring fellow faculty, Ma also takes an invested interest in mentoring graduate students, especially those who may want to take professorships. His teaching assistants study his own effective teaching style while developing their own unique style. He challenges his graduate students to pursue creative approaches to their research and encourages them to present their findings as often as possible. Additionally, beneficiaries of Ma’s mentorship praise his interest in their personal lives as well.

Ma’s passion for his field and for mentoring has supported the careers of many of his colleagues as well as students, whether it is for continued research or teaching.