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News & Press: Events

The NPA Announces the 2020 NPA Garnett-Powers & Associates, Inc. Mentor Award Recipient

Wednesday, January 15, 2020  
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January 15, 2020

John Beacom, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2020 NPA Garnett-Powers & Associates, Inc. Mentor Award. The award recognizes a faculty member who has engaged in exceptional mentoring of postdoctoral scholars. Beacom will be presented with the award at the 2020 Annual Conference on Friday, March 27, in San Diego, CA.

Beacom completed his doctoral degree in physics at the University of Wisconsin in 1997. His first postdoc appointment was as a Sherman Fairchild Fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and his second was as the David N. Schramm fellow at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Since then, he has been a faculty member at The Ohio State University in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy. He is presently the Henry L. Cox professor and an Arts and Sciences distinguished professor. His research spans topics in nuclear physics, particle physics, and astrophysics.

Since 2011, Beacom has also been director of Ohio State’s Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP), which has become an internationally renowned research hub well-known for its culture of interdisciplinarity, interactivity, and inclusion. CCAPP’s postdoctoral fellow program is highly visible, attracting about 300 applicants per year and typically hosting about a dozen fellows at a time. CCAPP fellows have been very successful in being awarded external funding and securing faculty and laboratory jobs worldwide. In 2019, Beacom was named Ohio State’s Postdoc Mentor of the Year.

Beacom was nominated by Tim Linden, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow; Paul Martini, Ph.D., professor and chair, CCAPP Science Board; Annika Peter, Ph.D., associate professor, member, CCAPP Science Board; Todd A. Thompson, Ph.D., professor & vice chair; and, David Weinberg, Ph.D., professor & chair, member, CCAPP Science Board. Testimonials of several past and current graduate students were also included in the nomination packet.

The nomination packet for Beacom included insight into his role as a mentor, stating “John has had an especially important role in recruiting, mentoring, and working with more than a dozen postdoctoral fellows and researchers over his career, and he has been the principal advisor on about 30 refereed publications led by a postdoc. About 10 of these postdoctoral researchers have gone on to faculty positions, an extraordinarily high percentage of the people he has closely mentored.” Giving credit to Beacom’s leadership, one nominator wrote “CCAPP has been extraordinarily successful in promoting postdoctoral fellows to faculty positions. As of 2018, 22 out of 35 (63%!) of CCAPP Postdoctoral Fellows have obtained tenure-track (or equivalent) positions, a ratio that stands out among the most elite institutions. This year, five more former CCAPP students and post-docs have obtained faculty positions.”

Steven Prohira, Ph.D., a current CCAPP postdoc wrote “even before arriving at OSU to begin my postdoc, John was actively engaged in my mentorship. I remember being in a car driving from an experiment when I received a call from John---the summer before my appointment began---suggesting that he nominate me for a new-postdoc fellowship at OSU (with him as my mentor), which I subsequently received. He did this knowing how much it would mean to my research program to have some additional time and resources at my disposal, as well as the strong mentorship he has continued to provide.”

Beacom is credited with starting quarterly postdoc check-ins, where postdocs receive advice from different CCAPP-affiliated faculty to benefit from perspectives beyond their official research mentors. His nomination packet also notes that Beacom seeks out postdocs and students to bring to OSU for short visits, providing those who need more exposure in the United States or within their research communities with increased visibility.

Beacom was also described as “staunchly active in improving the inclusivity of physics.” He was identified as an advocate for women and minorities in academia. He was faculty sponsor for the Science Accessibility Conference, which took place at OSU in June 2019 to discuss methods for improving the accessibility of science for people with disabilities.

Katie Auchettl, Ph.D., former CCAPP postdoc, stated “even though I have moved from CCAPP to a different university, John is regularly the first person I turn to when I need advice or guidance and absolutely without fail John is always there to support me whenever I need. This is definitely a rarity that one does not always come across in academia! It seems that once John is on your ‘team’, he becomes a team member for life and I can say without question that without John's support I would not be where I am today.”

The NPA applauds Beacom for his contribution to the postdoctoral community and the considerable time and effort he has dedicated to the mentoring and development of postdocs.

Past recipients of the Mentor Award are*:

2019 - Edward Krug, Ph.D., professor of regenerative medicine and cell biology, associate dean for postdoctoral affairs, Medical University of South Carolina

2018 - Leanne Redman, Ph.D., FTOS, associate professor, Clinical Sciences Division, Pennington Biomedical Research Center

2017 - Malene Hansen, Ph.D., associate professor in the Program for Development, Aging and Regeneration at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery

2016 - Shannon Manning, Ph.D., M.P.H., Michigan State University (MSU) Foundation associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

2015 - Jennifer Silk, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

2014 - Joel Elmquist, D.V.M., Ph.D., Maclin Family Professor of Medical Science, in honor of Dr. Roy A. Brinkley, the Carl H. Westcott Distinguished Chair in Medical Research, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, director of the Center for Hypothalamic Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas

2013 - Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Ph.D., professor of agricultural and biological engineering, University of Florida

2012 - Tayyaba Hasan, Ph.D., professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, professor at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology

*Title and institution listed here reflect the title at the time award was given.