Jason Aoto, PhD, receives University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Graduate School Dean’s Doctoral Mentoring AwardKristine M. Sikora, PhD | Graduate School Jun 6, 2022
Aurora, Colorado – Jason Aoto, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (CU Anschutz), is the recipient of the 2022 Dean's Doctoral Mentoring Award.
This award goes to CU Anschutz faculty who demonstrate a commitment to providing students with a one-on-one, high-quality training experience; maintain high standards of scholarship; and possess personal attributes that make the faculty member an effective role model for other mentors. Faculty are nominated by the doctoral students whom they mentored for at least one semester and with a significant amount of one-on-one interaction.
Dr. Aoto was nominated by current student Emma Boxer and alum Susana Retrepo-Upegui PhD ‘21, the first two PhD students who had joined Dr. Aoto’s lab, who wrote “He fosters confidence. Many of us were unsure of our capabilities when we started in the lab. He has helped us realize our full potential as scientists by making us feel valued and by spending focused time with us to perfect our critical thinking, writing, presentation, and experimental design skills and to foster leadership." They highlight, “He creates a vibrant and democratic lab environment where your opinion is valued, your curiosity is encouraged, and your individual strengths are utilized in a collaborative synergy with the rest of the lab.”
Boxer’s and Dr. Restrepo-Upegui’s nomination was enthusiastically endorsed by current CU Anschutz faculty members Drs Ulli Bayer, Mark Dell’Acqua, Matthew Kennedy, Tim Benke, David Port, and Jasper Heinsbrock.
Current students Rebecca Roth, Carley Miller, Eric Stokes, Brian Lloyd, and JungMin Kim provided additional letters of support which further emphasize the impact of Dr. Aoto’s mentorship style. One student writes “Dr. Aoto’s mentorship style portrays his dedication towards trainee-centric mentorship with his focus on the mentee’s goals, a lab environment that fosters independence and ownership of projects, and responsiveness to student’s needs.” They continue “The tailored mentorship of Dr. Aoto allows students the optimal environment for working towards their career goals and honing their skills of scientific inquiry, which is evident in both his past and current trainees.” Additional praise is offered regarding Dr. Aoto’s support of career development. “In addition to cultivating my technical and critical thinking skills, Dr. Aoto is dedicated to supporting my professional growth as a physician-scientist in training” another student writes. “We regularly discuss how my scientific goals can complement my aspired career trajectory.”
When asked what this award means to him, Dr. Aoto stated “It is a tremendous honor to be awarded the 2022 Dean’s Doctoral Mentoring Award. It is my mission to build strong mentor-mentee relationships and to create a safe, inclusive and equitable training environment that allows my students to freely pursue their scientific interests and achieve their professional goals. It is a true pleasure to watch my students develop into excellent scientists.” He continues “This award is made even more special because unbeknownst to me, my trainees (past and present) took time out of their schedules to organize my nomination, submit individual letters of support and recruit support from faculty colleagues. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Susana Restrepo-Upegui and Ms. Emma Boxer for catalyzing the nomination process.”
Dr. Aoto is the 2022 award recipient. Previous award recipients are listed below.
2021: Heide Ford, PhD, Department of Pharmacology
2020: Rebecca Schweppe, PhD, Department of Medicine; and Vanessa Phelan, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
2019: Sean Colgan, PhD, Department of Immunology and Microbiology
2018: Cory Christiansen, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation-Physical Therapy; and Jennifer Kiser, PharmD, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
2017: Matthew Kennedy, PhD, Department of Pharmacology; and Rytis Prekeris, PhD, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
2016: Jared Brown, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Gidon Felsen, PhD, Department of Physiology and Biophysics; and Jennifer Stevens-Lapsley, PT, PhD, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation-Physical Therapy
2015: Ulli Bayer, PhD, Department of Pharmacology; Laurel Lenz, PhD, Department of Immunology and Microbiology; and Jennifer Richer, PhD, Department of Pathology
2014: Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD, Department of Epidemiology; Elan Eisenmesser, PhD, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics; Ross Kedl, PhD, Department of Immunology and Microbiology; and Nancy Zahniser, PhD, Department of Pharmacology
2013: James McManaman, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Deb Glueck, PhD, Department of Pediatrics-Endocrinology; and Gary Grunwald, PhD, Department of Biostatistics and Informatics
2012: David Bentley, PhD, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics; Uday Kompella, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Daniel Tollin, PhD, Department of Physiology and Biophysics
2011: Mark Dell’Acqua, PhD, Department of Pharmacology; Roxie Foster, PhD, Nursing; and Vasilis Vasiliou, PhD, Department of Ophthalmology
About The Graduate School
The Graduate School administers and serves master's programs, doctoral programs, certificates, and non-degree courses throughout all thirteen schools and colleges across both the Denver and the Anschutz Medical Campuses. The Graduate School recognizes the importance of mentoring as essential to all levels of graduate training.