Dr. Lansing - Faculty Mentor of the Year

Dr. Lansing with her menthe Ashley Belle examining one of her small scale digester projects.

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

November 14, 2014

Department of Environmental Science and Technology Assistant Professor, Dr. Stephanie Lansing received the prestige 2014 Mentor of the Year Award from the 21st Institute on Teaching and Mentoring on November 2nd in Omni CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia.   Dr. Lansing feels very humbled to have received this award. “There have been many mentors in my life that have guided me and helped me become the person that I am today,” said Dr. Lansing. “To be recognized as being a positive mentor for the next generation of students is truly an honor.”   Dr. Lansing’s mentoring philosophy is based on a two-way learning process. “I try to get to know my students' strengths as they start the program. This gives them an opportunity to teach me new things so I can learn and expand my horizons while as imparting knowledge to them based on my research experience and gaining knowledge together through their research experience during the program,” explains Dr. Lansing. As part of her mentoring duties, Dr. Lansing holds writing workshops, shares tips for data analyses and hypothesis formation, and similar initiatives. “I think each student has something unique to offer, and I want them to use their abilities not only for success in the laboratory environment, but also to help them envision how these passions can lead to positive careers and learning experiences,” notes Dr. Lansing.   With her extensive international experience, Dr. Lansing feels comfortable mentoring students from various ethnicity backgrounds. “I have lived abroad for many years, so I know how it feels to be new to a culture and a different way of thinking,” she says. “Some of the best research solutions have come from students attacking an issue from a new perspective and challenging the status quo. Hence, harnessing and understanding differences in perspectives is a central aspect to my mentoring philosophy.”   Native of Oklahoma, Dr. Lansing joined ENST faculty in 2008. Today, her research focuses on agricultural and municipal waste treatment, anaerobic digestion design, microbial fuel cells and sustainable technologies specifically targeted to developing countries. Her current digestion research sites include dairy and poultry agricultural digesters in Maryland, dairy and swine agricultural digesters in Costa Rica, human waste digesters in Haiti, palm oil effluent digesters in Sierra Leone, and anaerobic digesters coupled with microbial fuel cells.   In addition, Dr. Lansing leads the Water Quality and Waste to Energy Laboratory at ENST where she and her team of students work on small-scale digester design projects. Her mentee, Ashley Belle, considers Dr. Lansing a very passionate person when it comes to her research and mentoring. “From our first meeting, I was certain I desired to pursue my doctoral studies under her guidance,” says ecological design graduate student Belle. She believes that Dr. Lansing is significantly contributing to encouraging the advancement of women in this field of agriculture and environmental sciences. Recently, Dr. Lansing was awarded an ADVANCE grant, which is a program funded by the National Science Foundation to increase diversity in higher education and the advancement of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Through this program, Dr. Lansing has encouraged her female students to become actively engaged in activities sponsored by this grant.