Jennifer Schaefer awarded Notre Dame’s Burns Award for outstanding mentorship of doctoral students

Jennifer Schaefer

Jennifer Schaefer, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, is a recipient of the James A. Burns, C.S.C., Graduate School Award — an award given to Notre Dame faculty members who have demonstrated outstanding mentorship of doctoral students.  

This year the Burns Award Committee recognized two mentors: for mid-career contributions and for sustained mentoring over a career. Schaefer was selected as the mid-career winner.

In the award letter, Laura A. Carlson, vice president, associate provost, and dean of the Graduate School noted Schaefer’s inspiring dedication to her students, especially to women and other underrepresented students.

The Schaefer Research Group is dedicated to the study of ion transport and electrochemical processes in systems for electrochemical energy storage and conversion.  In 2016, Schaefer established a Women’s Graduate Student and Postdoc Group in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE). This group provides support and career guidance for women graduate students and postdocs.

“Professor Schaefer recognizes that young women leave academia in greater numbers than do men, in part because they do not have the kind of role models and built-in support networks than men do,” wrote Merlin Bruening, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

“Her efforts are a proactive and effective means of correcting this.”

Schaefer’s graduate students benefit from her mentorship and learn to be effective mentors themselves.

“She cares about the development of grad students not only in research, but in other areas,” said graduate student Lingyu Yang. “She’s always encouraging us to participate in outreach and leadership activities, and she teaches us how to mentor others.” 

— Karla Cruise, College of Engineering