The national publication "Cell Mentor" has named ASU's Dr. Audrey Napier, interim dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (C-STEM) and chair of the department of Biology, and Dr. Shuntele N. Burns, a professor in the University's department of Biological Sciences, to the list of the most inspiring black scientists in the nation.
Napier said that she is "uncomfortable" with being singled out for the recognition.
"Anyone who knows me understands that I prefer not to be recognized in such a manner as this type of award because I realize that there are so many others at the University who are just as capable and inspiring to both students and colleagues alike. I would prefer that this award instead recognize all of ASU's science-related faculty to whom this award truly belongs," Napier said.
Dr. Burns, who has studied under a number of well-known entomologists, has published groundbreaking research in the area of insect endocrinology that has been cited by scientists around the globe. She is a self-professed "dedicated teacher" who said that she seeks to provide her students with a sound background in biology, as well as an understanding and appreciation of the interconnectedness of all knowledge.
"I love teaching, which is for me, not only a vocation, but a calling.” "It is an honor to be listed...I am also grateful to the black scientists, professors, and mentors who have been an inspiration to me and so many others," Burns stated.
AWARD-WINNING FACULTY WERE ONCE STUDENTS AT ASU
Both of the honorees are alumnae of Alabama State University, with Dr. Burns graduating in 1993 and Dr. Napier being a member of the Class of 1991.
Napier said that she found her interest in science while a student at Alabama State University.
"I got my start at ASU in the MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) laboratory program that introduced me to scientific research and propelled me in the career that I am in today. It is because of ASU that I am involved in science," Napier stated.
Dr. Kennedy Wekesa, associate provost for Academic Affairs at ASU, stated that the magazine’s selection of Burns and Napier is important for ASU and the community.
"This recognition is a testament not only for the high quality of our faculty members at ASU that are represented by both Dr. Napier and Dr. Burns, but also for the impact that they are having at the local and national stage, which is evidenced by both of them being named to this national honor," said Wekesa.
HOW THE HONOREES WERE NAMED
Cell Mentor's editors explain that the list of honorees was gathered by renowned scientists and educators across the nation (they refer to them as “a community of scholars”) with a goal to increase and improve diversity and inclusion throughout each scientific area of study by honoring peers who meet the mark of inspired teaching and research. The editors say that the purpose of this honor is to highlight a network of people that it believes are sometimes excluded from mainstream scholarly journals and publications, yet are excellent and inspiring in their fields.
THE QUALITY OF ASU'S FACULTY IS REPRESENTED IN THESE AWARDS
Wekesa believes that it is important to recognize these two ASU professors, but also to realize that the institution itself deserves to be honored.
"ASU's students should be proud that they are being taught by top-notch faculty members who are recognized beyond ASU like Dr's. Napier and Burns," said Wekesa. "The quality of education that the students are receiving here on campus is of the highest quality."
"What we find as equally important is that these two honorees, these faculty members, are also Alabama State University alumni and have sat in those same chairs, which our current students sit in today. This validates the quality of an ASU education," Wekesa shared.
NOTE: ABOUT CELL MENTOR; The online publication that presented these awards, 'Cell Mentor,' was established in 2019. Among its many purposes includes advancing and assisting biology researchers, faculty members and students to publish professional papers, enhance their laboratory skills and obtain meaningful career advancement through its online articles, tutorials, handbooks and posts, which address a researcher’s scientific journey.
News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.