Vanderbilt University’s Kelly Holley-Bockelmann Earns Mentor Award

Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Stevenson Professor of Physics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, has received the 2022 Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The award is for individuals who have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students who are working toward doctorates in STEM.

Professor Holley-Bockelmann is being recognized for her leadership of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program. Since its founding in September 2004, the mission of the program has been to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in astronomy, physics, materials science, and biology. Students earn a master’s degree from Fisk University, a historically Black institution while receiving full financial support, research opportunities, and intensive mentoring. Students can then “bridge” to a Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt or another institution.

“Honestly, I have a lot of conflicting emotions about this award,” Dr. Holley-Bockelmann said. “My first reaction was embarrassment because I remembered so many times I failed to listen or said exactly the wrong thing. But as I thought more, I realized that my best mentoring relationships were ones where I did make mistakes and learned how to do better. So, I’m also really grateful to work with students who are willing to trust that we’re both going to grow together as partners.”

Dr. Holley-Bockelmann is a graduate of Montana State University, where she majored in physics. She holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan.

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