Bioethics expert Osagie Obasogie, Haas Distinguished Chair and professor in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program, was honored with the 2019 Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award by UC Berkeley, along with two other campus faculty members. The award recognizes Berkeley faculty members’ outstanding commitment to mentoring graduate students.
Professor Obasogie focuses his research on racial disparities in health, the myth of "colorblindness," and how blind people "see" race. Some of his research looks at how new reproductive and genetic technologies impact society and, in particular, vulnerable communities
Nominated by faculty colleagues and current and former graduate students, the award recipients demonstrate an outstanding commitment to helping UC Berkeley graduate students to succeed academically, professionally, and personally. Obasogie was nominated for the award by Meghna Mukherjee and Kimberly Burke, both PhD students in Sociology, and Brie McLemore, a PhD student in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program.
For Obasogie, the award was an honor from the students that he mentors and cares for:
“This award is very special to me. Berkeley students are amazing, and it is a privilege to be in a position where I can help shape their thoughts, experiences, and intellects in a way that allows them to fully articulate their authentic selves,” he says. “Mentorship is the essence of the university experience, and I appreciate that the campus uses this award to acknowledge the importance of supporting graduate students.”
In their nomination of Obasogie, all three students remarked on his commitment to their education and lives outside of Berkeley.
“Professor Obasogie stands out as a mentor because of his thoughtful attention to students as unique individuals, his genuine investment in our personal success, and his ability to help us recognize our own potential to succeed,” Mukherjee said in her letter.
Burke went on to say, “Professor Obasogie’s mentorship does not compartmentalize my intellectual well-being from my personal welfare. He makes visible aspects of my graduate experience that would otherwise feel invisible and isolating.”
The graduate students also discussed the support Obasogie provided in their development not only as students and researchers, but as marginalized people pursuing graduate degrees.
“Within Berkeley’s large and diverse student body,” Mukherjee wrote, “Professor Obasogie is an invaluable pillar of support for marginalized students who often lack resources for mentorship and guidance through conventional avenues.”
McLemore added, “I could speak endlessly about how much Dr. Obasogie has furthered my career, but this is only one small aspect of why he is incredibly deserving of this award. If there is one thing to note about Dr. Obasogie–which has truly made the difference for myself and so many others–is how much he genuinely cares for us, not just as his students or as future scholars, but as people.”
The honorees received their awards at a campus ceremony held on Tuesday, April 16.
By Nayaab Ahsan