PSU's Rider first winner of national award for mentoring
A Pittsburg State University biology professor has been named the winner of a national award for mentoring.
Dr. Virginia Rider is the first winner of the Sidney A. McNairy, Jr. Mentoring Award through the National Institutes of Health. The award, which will be given to one professor in the nation every two years, honors faculty for their dedication and focus mentoring students.
Rider was nominated by Dr. Joan Hunt, vice chancellor for biomedical infrastructure at the University of Kansas Medical Center and principal investigator of the Kansas Institutional Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, also known as K-INBRE, a grant program within the NIH. Twenty-three states, as well as Puerto Rico, compete for the multimillion dollar INBRE grants, which are used to strengthen biomedical research in traditionally underfunded states.
Rider, the leader of K-INBRE initiatives at PSU, has received approximately $35,000 from the program each year to help support research in the laboratories of faculty who train undergraduates in a variety of research projects. Her association with the grant program, as well as her outstanding work in student mentoring, qualified her to be the sole Kansas nominee for the McNairy Award.
She traveled to Washington, D.C., August 6-8 to receive the award and to speak at the National IDeA (Institutional Development Awards) Symposium.
“Dr. Rider is an outstanding example of the scientists in Kansas who educate students and care deeply about their development,” Hunt said. “She has formed a nucleus of research scholars at PSU that can serve as an example throughout the nation of how students can be assisted as they grow, develop and learn to be researchers. Kansas is enormously proud to have Dr. Rider representing outstanding mentorship for the United States.”
Rider came to PSU in 2000 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she served as an associate professor. Prior to her tenure at UMKC, she worked for seven years as an assistant professor at Tufts University in Boston. Her research focuses on the molecular action of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone in normal target cells and in disease.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in zoology from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La. Her Ph.D. in zoology is from Arizona State University. Rider has received several recognitions throughout her career, including the 2005 Faculty Scholar Award from the Kansas Biomedical Infrastructure Network, the 2003 M. Irene Ferrér Award in gender specific medicine through Columbia University, and the 1991 Smith Kline Beecham Award for Research Excellence, among others.
“My impact on human beings is greater through mentoring students than any research I publish or discoveries in the laboratory,” Rider said. “If you can positively affect young people into productive careers where they’re happy, that’s the best thing you can have happen in your life.”
The McNairy Award honors Dr. Sidney McNairy, Jr., director of the Division of Research Infrastructure with the National Center for Research Resources at the NIH. The award is in recognition of his insight and leadership in the promotion of biomedical research.