Department News

Venkatesh Murthy Honored for Excellence in Mentoring

Venkatesh Murthy Honored for Excellence in Mentoring

MCB chair Venkatesh Murthy has received the Everett Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award. The award, presented by the GSAS Graduate Student Council (GSC), recognizes a handful of faculty who go above and beyond in supporting and advising their graduate students.

Mendelsohn awardees are nominated by their own graduate students and chosen by a GSC committee. Three of Murthy’s students wrote letters in support of his nomination, praising his empathy, confidence in his students, and ability to help mentees envision themselves as scientists.

“First and foremost, it is clear that Venki truly prioritizes his students’ successes over his own career ambitions,” one student wrote in a nomination letter. “The importance of this mindset to excellent mentorship cannot be overstated.”

In addition to his compassion and support, Murthy’s students cited the freedom he gives them to explore their scientific interests as one of his greatest strengths as a mentor. “Sometimes, Venki’s mentorship seems almost magical,” a student wrote in a nomination letter. “I think this is because Venki rarely gives drastic suggestions but rather subtly helps me to realize which of my ideas is best or what is the most logical order to proceed. In this way, he allows students to find their own paths but helps to clear the obstacles and smooth the way.”

One nomination letter shares the story of a graduate student from another lab who was feeling burnt out and considering quitting their Ph.D, who then decided to join Murthy’s lab. Instead of pushing the student to persevere or start a new project right away, Murthy listened and asked the student to read literature reviews on a wide range of topics. “We had frequent, long discussions about my opinion on the readings, and he would then point me to readings and publications that was related to the development of my interest,” the student wrote. “We went through this process over and over again, and I was able to find a question that deeply intrigued me, then design and work on my very own project to answer it.”

The Mendelsohn Award is one of the few Harvard awards given by graduate students in recognition of teaching and mentorship.

by Diana Crow

Venki Murthy faculty profile

Murthy lab website

(l to r) Julien Grimaud, Venki Murthy, Hao Wu, and Jenelle Wallace

(l to r) Julien Grimaud, Venki Murthy, Hao Wu, and Jenelle Wallace