Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award

The Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award was established in memory of Dr. Harshini V. de Silva, an associate professor of biology, who was noted for her deep dedication to the academic and professional development of graduate students. Each year, the Chancellor’s Office and the Graduate School present this award to a full-time member of the graduate faculty who evinces these qualities of outstanding graduate mentoring.


The recipient will be honored at a ceremony held on the UNC Charlotte campus in the early spring with an award of a crystal obelisk, a framed citation, and a cash prize.


All regular members of the graduate faculty (tenured/tenure-track) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte are eligible to receive this recognition. Nominees should be distinguished, active scholars in their appropriate fields and should have proven records of continuing interest in the growth and success of their students. Evidence of an outstanding graduate mentor should include activities that demonstrate not only a clear dedication to providing graduate students with the skills and resources that they need to succeed as scholars, but also a sincere and active interest in the well-being of their students. These efforts should be related to past students’ professional appointments and accomplishments as scholars.


Although graduate students, past or present, and faculty/staff members of the University may recommend members of the graduate faculty for this award, nominations should come from chairs of academic departments of UNC Charlotte. If the nominee is a department chair, the nomination should be made by the college dean. 

Nominations remain eligible for consideration for two years. The nominator should submit a memo in the second year stating the nominee agrees to be considered for the next round. Please submit the second-year memo to cskerlak@charlotte.edu. 

Nomination materials should include the following:

  • Nominator’s letter clearly explaining the nominee’s qualifications. What sets this individual apart from the ordinary in their devotion to graduate students and to graduate education? Also, evidence should be presented that the nominee’s commitment to graduate student education goes significantly beyond that of the average, but dedicated, member of the graduate faculty.
  • Nominee’s curriculum vitae, highlighting activities conducted with graduate students.
  • Up to six letters of support from graduate students, faculty, alums, and others.
  • Nominee’s written statement discussing their perspective on the role of mentoring in graduate education.

The nomination period is currently closed. For more information, visit the award site.


  • 2023-2024: Dr. Juan Vivero-Escoto, Chemistry
  • 2022-2023: Dr. Margaret Quinlan, Communication Studies
  • 2021-2022: Dr. Adam Reitzel, Biological Sciences
  • 2020-2021: Dr. Ya-yu Lo, Special Education and Child Development
  • 2019-2020: Dr. Suzanne Leland, Political Science and Public Administration
  • 2018-2019: Dr. Rich Lambert, Educational Leadership
  • 2017-2018: Dr. Chuang Wang, Educational Leadership
  • 2016-2017: Dr. Heather Smith, Geography and Earth Sciences
  • 2015-2016: Dr. Chance Lewis, Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education
  • 2014-2015: Dr. Dena Shenk, Anthropology
  • 2013-2014: Dr. Ryan Kilmer, Psychology
  • 2012-2013: Dr. Larissa Brunner Huber, Public Health Sciences
  • 2011-2012: Dr. Claudia Flowers, Educational Leadership
  • 2010-2011: Dr. Harish Cherukuri, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
  • 2009-2010: Dr. Robin Coger, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
  • 2008-2009: Dr. Zbigniew Ras, Computer Science
  • 2007-2008: Dr. William Brandon, Political Science
  • 2006-2007: Dr. Karen D. Wood, Reading and Elementary Education
  • 2005-2006: Dr. Robert J. Hocken, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science
  • 2004-2005: Dr. Boyd Davis, English
  • 2003-2004: Dr. Roslyn Mickelson, Sociology and Anthropology
  • 2002-2003: Dr. Bernadette Donovan-Merkert, Chemistry
  • 2001-2002: Dr. James D. Oliver, Biology
  • 2000-2001: Dr. Tony E. Jackson, English