UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Suzanne Mohney, professor of materials science and engineering and electrical engineering, is the 2019 recipient of the Penn State Graduate School Alumni Society Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award.
The award honors faculty members for exemplary leadership that benefits graduate students and faculty in an existing graduate program at the University.
As chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program (IGDP) in materials science and engineering (MatSE), Mohney grew the graduate program, increased the quality and diversity of students, engaged faculty advisers and expanded professional development opportunities available to students.
Since 2013, IGDP has grown 33 percent to an all-time high of more than 190 students, with about 90 percent pursuing a doctorate. Under Mohney’s leadership, incoming students are more diverse and have improved entering grade-point averages.
Through improved recruiting and communication, the number of students winning external fellowships has grown. In 2017, five continuing students were awarded federal fellowships. Seven students enrolled in IGDP in MatSE have earned NSF fellowships.
Recognizing the link between undergraduate research opportunities and students’ interest in graduate studies, Mohney serves as co-organizer of an NSF Research Experience and Mentoring site, which promotes opportunities for underrepresented minorities and female undergraduates. The site also offers mentoring opportunities for graduate students at Penn State. Mohney has also served as faculty adviser for students in the Graduate School’s Summer Research Opportunity Program, the McNair Scholars Program, the U.S. Naval Academy midshipman rotation and the Materials Research Science and Engineering Research Center.
Mohney proactively recruits new faculty advisers to the program and serves as a mentor for junior faculty advisers. She started several programs aimed at professional development including: securing funding for the Materials Research Society Student Chapter speaker series, arranging the first MatSE Teaching Assistant Workshop and implementing student-speaking opportunities to an external advisory board.
“Dr. Mohney’s leadership not only enhanced our student recruitment, but also significantly increased the number of underrepresented minorities in our program,” a nominator said. “Through her leadership, our program has been highly successful in attracting and hiring underrepresented female and minority students, some of whom are currently pursuing their Ph.D.s. Our department has greatly achieved program diversity, educational equality and national visibility, owing to Mohney’s dedication and efforts in student recruitment.”