Each year during Graduate Education Week, Virginia Tech's Graduate School recognizes excellence among graduate students and faculty mentors university-wide. 

Faculty mentors are nominated by graduate students and chosen by their colleges. VA-MD VetMed’s outstanding faculty mentor is Linda Dahlgren, professor of large animal surgery, whose nominators highlighted that her guidance, support, advice, and encouragement have been crucial to their research and success.

Anne Nichols, now a postdoc researcher at the University of Rochester, said that Dahlgren has high expectations, but is always available to help students as they work toward their degrees. “She allowed me to explore my interests by designing my own experiments, helped me find funding where appropriate, and helped me synthesize complex ideas through ongoing thoughtful discussions and guidance,” Nichols wrote. “These skills have proven to be invaluable in my postdoctoral work and as I begin to establish my own independent research program. As I have seen some of my colleagues struggle with this transition from student to independent researcher at the postdoctoral level, I am exceedingly grateful to Linda that she helped to develop these skills in me early in my scientific career.”

Current Ph.D. student Sarah Khatibzadeh, who completed a D.V.M. and an M.S. with Dahlgren as advisor, agreed. “Regardless of the time or the day, Dr. Dahlgren will selflessly spend hours of one-on-one time with her mentees in discussing protocols, reviewing data, troubleshooting, and perfecting manuscripts and grant proposals,” Khatibzadeh wrote. “She deeply cares about every student and always goes the extra mile to ensure they succeed, regardless of their experience level or research interests. Her mentorship style also strikes a perfect balance between directly providing her experienced insight and asking the tough questions that stimulate her mentees to grow as scientists.”