Published January 13, 2022
Shambhu Upadhyaya and Jason Briner are the recipients of the 2021-22 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.”
Upadhyaya, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, was nominated for his award by Jinhui Xu, professor and department chair. Briner, professor in the Department of Geology, was nominated by Bea M. Csatho, professor and department chair.
Upadhyaya will be put forward as UB’s sole allowable nominee for the Geoffrey Marshall Mentoring Award administered by the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) every spring. The winners will also be recognized sometime this year at a reception.
In his nominating letter, Xu stressed Upadhyaya’s role as founder of the Center of Excellence in Information Systems Assurance Research and Education, now designated as a national center.
“This center has attracted sustained funding since its inception and has served as a fertile ground for graduate student research and education,” Xu wrote. “It is fair to say that Professor Upadhyaya has placed UB on the map of cybersecurity research and education.”
Xu noted that Upadhyaya’s research “is largely experimental in nature, and many graduate students (master’s and doctoral) have been involved in his center and his research.”
“He has graduated 24 PhD and 24 MS students. His mentorship of students is exemplary — many have published in top-notch journals and conferences in the field. It is very common to see hundreds of citations for papers co-authored with his students,” Xu wrote.
“I can personally attest to their caliber and the high regard that they had for Professor Upadhyaya.”
Csatho’s nominating letter described Briner as an “exemplary graduate student mentor” who has graduated 23 graduate students since joining the UB faculty — five PhD, 15 MS and three MA; he is currently advising two PhD and two MS students.
“As a climate research group member,” Csatho wrote, “I have witnessed how Dr. Briner mentored his graduate students to become successful and productive researchers.”
She cited several key components of his mentoring approach: attention to students’ backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses when advising them on their research topics, and involving students in all stages of research, from fieldwork to lab work to interpreting data and writing papers.
Briner’s mentoring also was praised by Greg A. Valentine, associate department chair, who said that to his knowledge, all of Briner’s publishing graduate students were lead author on at least one paper published in the top journals in the field.
“The rate at which Jason’s students publish their work far exceeds that of any other faculty member’s students in the geology department,” Valentine wrote in a letter supporting Briner’s nomination, an indication that Briner is “extremely successful in supporting students in publishing their research and scholarship.”