Stefan France is the 2019 recipient of the Mentor on the Map award of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). He will receive the award at the 46th NOBCChE Annual Awards Ceremony in St. Louis, Missouri, in November.
The award honors an individual who has demonstrated leadership in mentoring and coaching others, has had a significant impact in influencing the careers of other technical professionals, and/or encourages students to pursue technical and scientific careers.
France is an associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry (SoCB) with expertise in organic chemistry and synthesis, natural products, medicinal chemistry, catalysis, and synthetic methods development. He has a track record of successful mentoring of graduate and undergraduate researchers. In his research group, he has graduated 1 M.S. and 12 Ph.D. students. He serves on numerous thesis committees for other graduate students in SoCB.
France is faculty co-advisor of the Georgia Tech chapter of NOBCChE and faculty advisor of SoCB’s Bridge to the Professoriate (B2P), a newly formed group of graduate students and postdocs interested in becoming professors at research and teaching universities.
In recruiting, mentoring, and working with undergraduates, France focuses on exposing them to research opportunities and encourages them to explore careers in STEM. “I truly enjoy working with undergrads and helping them to better understand themselves and find their passions,” he says.
So far France’s lab has hosted about 30 summer REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) students and a similar number of Georgia Tech undergraduate researchers, including two international exchange students. He is the principal investigator of SoCB’s FAST (Chemistry Function, Application, Structure, and Theory) REU site.
Among the students who have done research with France, 48% are women, 20% are black or African-American, and 10% are Hispanic; 75% have been chemistry or biochemistry majors. Some of his former undergraduate students are now enrolled in medical, pharmacy, or graduate school programs. Others are teachers, researchers at government labs, or working in other STEM-related professions.
“I am honored and humbled to receive the award,” France says. “As others have mentored and helped me to get where I am, it is my responsibility to do the same for others.”