Feinberg’s Medical Faculty Council (MFC) honored the recipients of the 2023 Mentor of the Year awards at a virtual and in-person workshop on May 17, with awardees sharing insights from their experiences mentoring students, trainees and peers.
This year’s recipients were Judith Moskowitz, PhD, MPH, professor of Medical Social Sciences, and Daniela Ladner, MD, MPH, the John Benjamin Murphy Professor and vice chair of research and innovation in the Department of Surgery.
Moskowitz and Ladner will be recognized for their awards at the 2023 Lewis Landsberg Research Day in September.
‘Other people matter’
As a social psychologist, Moskowitz studies the impact of positive emotion on adjustment to health-related and other life stress. Her lab designs interventions to introduce positive emotion regulation skills to people living with chronic diseases, caregivers and more.
Moskowitz came to Northwestern in 2014 from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Her academic background includes earning her PhD at Dartmouth College and then earning a Master of Public Health degree at the University of California, Berkeley before becoming faculty at UCSF.
When reflecting on her career, Moskowitz said one of the most important things a young scientist can do is trust their gut and not look back or question their decisions.
“Take the path in front of you and believe it is the best one. No regrets,” Moscowitz said.
In her more than 25 years in academia, Moskowitz told the audience that she doesn’t believe work-life balance to be attainable.
“We prioritize different things at different times,” she said.
Her mentoring philosophy is inspired by Christopher Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology.
“He used to boil down all of positive psychology by saying ‘other people matter.’ When I looked up his quote, I saw that he had actually expanded on that and he often said, ‘Let other people know that they matter. They might benefit and you certainly will,” she said.
‘A back and forth’
As a surgeon-scientist, Ladner, who is also a professor of Medical Social Sciences, specializes in liver and kidney transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery. Her extensive research portfolio is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She is the Founding Director of the Northwestern University Transplant Outcomes Research Collaborative (NUTORC), a collaborative effort that brings together faculty from across Northwestern to address important questions related to end-organ disease and transplantation.
Ladner graduated from the University of Zurich School of Medicine and completed her postdoctoral research fellowship at the Yale School of Medicine. She then pursued her residency in general surgery and a fellowship in transplant surgery at Stanford University. She holds a Master of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.
During the workshop, Ladner shared that she believes her role as a mentor is to help people figure out what they want, not what she wants for them.
“This is fun because they [mentees]challenge me,” Ladner said. “They challenge the way I look at things, the way I approach things and that’s what makes it fun. It’s supposed to be a back and forth.”
Ladner said she knows that being a mentor to the next generation of transplant surgeons is crucial.
“Being a mentor is important to me because otherwise everything I do is just for me. Mentorship is legacy. Mentorship is paying it forward,” she said.
She also shared her advice for mentees: “Talk to people who have walked the path you want to walk and network. What’s most exciting to me is seeing mentees becoming mentors themselves and taking that ownership and then going out and thriving and hopefully exceeding anything that I’ve achieved.”