Dr. Marc Branch


UF Department of Pschology

2008-2009 UF Doctoral Mentoring Award Winner

One of the great pleasures of being a faculty member at a research university is the opportunity to work with graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees. I can still recollect that when I was a graduate student looking for an academic job, one of my fervent hopes was to be able to get an appointment at a research university precisely so I could work with graduate students. I can think of nothing that keeps a researcher or scholar more on her or his toes intellectually than having eager, interested graduate students with which to interact. It has therefore been my extremely good fortune to have been able to work at the University of Florida and to work alongside a very fine group of young people.

My approach to mentoring has been based primarily on the apprentice/young colleague model. All the research that I do is in concert with graduate students, so we problem solve together. My goal, of course, is to prepare the student to be an independent research/scholar, and I hope I have been generally successful in that. Because I am a basic scientist in a relatively small subdiscipline, I have made it a point not to supervise too many students, so over my 35 years here I have directed 16 students to the Ph.D. What I am most pleased about is that all are gainfully employed in positions relevant to their training, and even more important, all seem very happy with their careers. Seven of them are in tenured or tenure-track positions in universities, with three of them serving currently as department heads. One other left a tenured position at West Virginia University to take a position at Stanford Medical school, from whence he has moved on to a private medical-instrument company. Two of my former students have served terms as associate editor for the top journal in my discipline. My two most senior graduates (interestingly missing from the list kept by the graduate school) have ascended to positions of considerable authority. One, Greg Galbicka, is the director of laboratory animal science for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmaceuticals. Before that, he was the Director of the Medical Neurosciences Division at The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The other, Steven Dworkin, is currently Department Head at Jacksonville State University, having left a professorship at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

Several of my more recent supervisees, four to be exact, have received prestigious National Research Service Award (NRSA) pre-doctoral fellowships from the National Institutes of Health. I believe that partly because of that I was able to secure a K05 Senior Scientist/Mentor grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It is an honor for me to be selected as a nominee from my department, but even more of an honor to have a cadre of former students who are successful and happy.