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Ellen Lau, assistant professor of linguistics, received the 2017 Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. Lau received nominations from Mina Hirzel, a linguistics graduate student specializing in language acquisition, and several other students. The Award carries an honorarium of $1,000 to support mentoring activities.

Outstanding faculty mentors are critical to graduate education and to creating a successful graduate student experience. The Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award recognizes outstanding achievement in mentoring by paying tribute to those faculty members who have made exceptional contributions to a student’s (or students’) graduate education and experience. This Award serves the dual purposes of acknowledging outstanding mentoring provided by individual faculty and of reminding the university community of the signal importance of mentoring to graduate studies.

Lau earned her Ph.D. in linguistics in 2009 from UMD with certificates in neuroscience and cognitive science. She is Co-Director of the KIT-Maryland MEG Lab, a collaborative research center supported by UMD and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT), Japan which studies brain activity.  Lau’s research aims to link what we know about language to what we know about the brain, with the goal of developing better models of language processing, representation and the underlying neural implementation.

This year, 234 graduate students nominated 30 faculty for the Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. A campus-wide selection committee, comprising graduate faculty and graduate students, and chaired by 2016 Award-winner Dr. Edmond Shenassa, evaluated the nominations. Competition for the award was intense. Four faculty members have been named Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year for 2017.