David Janicke, Ph.D., the 2013-2014 College of Public Health and Health Professions’ Doctoral Mentor of the Year, believes that a mentor’s enthusiasm for teaching and research sends a powerful message to students.
“If a mentor is not enthusiastic about his or her work, nor invested in students’ success, how can one expect their students to be enthusiastic and motivated to learn and achieve?” said Janicke, an associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology. “My students know that they are important to me and that our work is important.”
A pediatric psychology researcher who focuses on behavioral interventions to combat obesity in young children, Janicke has served as a dissertation committee chair or member for more than 70 doctoral and master’s students.
“I strive to help students develop the skills they need to continue to grow and function independently as a professional,” he said. “While knowledge is certainly important, skills in critical thinking, problems solving and communications are more instrumental to future growth, allowing students to define and address problems and persevere in the face of inevitable challenges.”
The rewards of mentoring include seeing students’ growth in skills, abilities and confidence, and “the students’ ability and willingness to challenge me (respectfully, of course) as they develop their own ideas and values,” Janicke said. “And yes, the excitement when they get their first ‘first-authored’ paper is always a special moment.”
Former mentee Wendy Gray, Ph.D., a 2010 graduate of the clinical psychology doctoral program and an assistant professor of psychology at Auburn University, said Janicke has the true mark of an excellent mentor — the ability to have a lasting impact on students’ careers.
“Dr. Janicke’s mentorship has continued on well past my graduate school years,” she said. “His words of wisdom were particularly helpful as I interviewed for and negotiated my first faculty position at Auburn University. Dr. Janicke’s mentorship of his students serves as a model for how I approach mentoring my own graduate students here at Auburn, thereby extending his reach well beyond the walls of UF.”