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Krajewski Recognized as Outstanding Mentor

Witold Krajewski and former graduate student Luciana Kindl Da Cunha.

Witold Krajewski and former graduate student Luciana Kindl Da Cunha.

College of Engineering faculty Witold Krajewski and K.K. Choi each earned top recognition from the University of Iowa Graduate College for excellence in mentoring graduate students. Krajewski and Choi are the co-winners of the 2012 Graduate College Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award in mathematical and physical sciences and engineering.

“This is an award for a body of work. Twenty-five years is a good chunk of time, and I’ve had a pretty good run with my students,” says Krajewski, who joined the UI faculty in 1987. Krajewski is also an IIHR research engineer, as well as director of the Iowa Flood Center.

Krajewski and Choi were nominated for the award by their students and colleagues and honored at a ceremony Nov. 27, at the Levitt Center for University Advancement.

Krajewski says his goal as a mentor is to learn from his students. He uses a coaching approach, drawing on his athletic background, which includes training and competing nationally in judo.

“The coaches I appreciated the most were able to balance direct criticism of my skills with encouragement and trust in my abilities,” says Krajewski, who is also chair of water resources engineering. “I pride myself in bringing in three-star recruits and developing them into high-level professionals.”

Eight of his doctoral students have received the prestigious NASA Global Change Fellowship. Application materials included a detailed research proposal developed under Krajewski’s guidance.

Krajewski and his colleagues also initiated an annual legislative breakfast at the Iowa State Capitol at which UI faculty and students affiliated with the Iowa Flood Center communicate with state representatives.

“Professor Witold creates avenues for his students to appreciate the impact of our research in the real world,” writes doctoral student Tibebu Ayalew in his nomination letter on Krajewski’s behalf. “I had the opportunity of presenting my research results at the 2012 Iowa Legislative Breakfast. My challenge was to prepare a poster and be able to effectively communicate my research findings to the general public. He was very helpful throughout the process.”

Krajewski sees mentoring as part of learning alongside his students.

“We learn together. I want to learn more from what they are doing,” Krajewski says. “The research we do is trying to figure out nature, so there are plenty of surprises and plenty of complexities.”

Last modified on December 4th, 2012
Posted on December 4th, 2012