by Sue Wuetcher
Published February 17, 2020
Jun Zhuang received the 2019-20 Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award, presented by the Graduate School to recognize UB faculty for their support and development of graduate students through their mentoring activities.
The award, established in 2012, is given annually to members of the graduate faculty who have demonstrated “truly outstanding and sustained support and development of graduate students from course completion through research and subsequent career placement.”
Zhuang, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, was nominated by his department chair, Victor Paquet, professor of industrial and systems engineering. He will also be UB’s nominee for the Geoffrey Marshall Mentoring Award sponsored by the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS). The Marshall award will be presented at NAGS’ annual meeting in April.
In his letter nominating Zhuang for the award, Paquet called his colleague “an enthusiastic and accomplished graduate student mentor” who “feels strongly about ensuring that he is always available to his students, is enthusiastic about his students’ accomplishments, and is sensitive to and appreciates the different abilities and backgrounds of his graduate students.”
“Zhuang views the ideal adviser-advisee relationship as a lifetime commitment, and enjoys watching his former students mature professionally,” Paquet said. “He often speaks of how wonderful it is to witness a student’s “aha” moment,” he added.
Paquet says Zhuang’s mentorship methods go well beyond the typical “one-on-one” and small group methods of graduate student mentorship that faculty often use. “His methods include comprehensive researcher and educator training through large student team discussion and presentations, cooperative publication efforts, games, conferences and even field trips.”
Zhuang’s mentorship methods “have encouraged the best possible performance from students, assisted students who were unlikely to complete their degree, and have supported superior student research and scholarship,” Paquet wrote.
Another colleague, Ann Bisantz, dean of undergraduate education and professor and former chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, noted that Zhuang collaborates with students on his publications, and since joining UB in 2008, “almost every one of his over 100 journal publications and over 200 conference publications are co-authored with students!”
Bisantz adds that Zhuang is committed to his students “as individuals and scholars,” noting that he hosts large groups of international graduate students for holiday meals and supported a graduate student who was directed to return to Turkey for political reasons in completing his doctorate remotely.
Zhuang has long been recognized as an exceptional mentor. He is the recipient of the Office of Student Engagement’s Exemplary Faculty/Staff Mentor Award, the President Emeritus and Mrs. Martin Meyerson Award for Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring, and the Graduate Student Mentor Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his PhD and served as a research assistant, instructor, TA and project assistant from 2004 until he joined the UB faculty in 2008.
Zhuang’s research focuses on integrating operations research, big data analysis, game theory and decision analysis to improve mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery for natural and man-made disasters.
He is the recipient of a UB Exceptional Scholar Award — Sustained Achievement, a Koopman Prize from the INFORMS Military Applications Society and a Chauncey Starr Distinguished Young Risk Analyst Award from the Society for Risk Analysis.
William Solomon, a professor in the Department of English, was also recognized with the award. Both award winners will be recognized at UB’s Celebration of Faculty and Staff Excellence in fall 2020.