John A. Szivek, PhD, professor of orthopaedic surgery, was one of six faculty members named as a 2020 Faculty Mentoring Award winner at the May General Faculty Meeting of the College of Medicine – Tucson. Dr. Szivek has made mentoring students and junior faculty a priority during the 30 years he has been at the University of Arizona.
“What’s truly special about Dr. Szivek’s mentorship is not any one individual thing he has done — it is the duration of his mentorship and the number of opportunities he has afforded to me,” said David Margolis, MD, PhD, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery. “He has been a mentor in my career and my life longer than anyone I have known outside my family. This is why my parents call Dr. Szivek my ‘Tucson Dad’ and why I consider myself to be part of his family.”
For nominees to be considered for the award, now in its sixth year, mentees were asked to submit letters of nomination to the Dean’s Council on Faculty Affairs indicating the types of mentoring they received and how their mentor has contributed to their success. The annual awards honor faculty members who demonstrate outstanding commitment to mentorship and recognize the importance of mentorship for the success of faculty.
“The Faculty Mentoring Awards were established to recognize the selfless faculty who are committed to empowering their fellow colleagues,” said Alice Min, MD, assistant dean of faculty development. “For junior faculty in academic medicine, mentorship is crucial. Finding someone who will support you, coach you through challenges, and help you build networks and find the right opportunities is essential.”
Dr. Szivek’s research focuses on understanding the relationship between activity and musculoskeletal tissue formation, and using this knowledge to develop cartilage and bone regenerative therapies. These techniques include the use of synthetic scaffolds, proteins and adult stem cells extracted from fat tissue. His goal is to develop clinically viable tissue engineering techniques that include monitoring of healing using sensors and implantable transmitters. His students learn about implant development and design, biomaterials and biomechanics research in orthopedics.
“I learned early in my career that both students and junior faculty thrive when they have a real connection with another person who honestly cares about them and their work. I have helped hundreds of undergraduates progress to become graduates and successful professionals and faculty at universities around the country,” Dr. Szivek said. “My happiest moments are when these people, whom I have mentored by providing them with advice and respect, grow into successful principal investigators and instructors at our University and other top-tier universities.”
The other 2020 Faculty Mentoring Award winners are:
- C. Kent Kwoh, MD; professor, Department of Medicine
- Helen Amerongen, PhD; professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
- Mindy Fain, MD; professor, Department of Medicine
- Lawrence Mandarino, PhD; professor, Department of Medicine
- Unni K. Udayasankar, MD; associate professor, Department of Medical Imaging