Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students: Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D.

Image with caption: Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D., center, works with students Karlene Cork, left, and Ted Warren.
Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D., center, works with students Karlene Cork, left, and Ted Warren.
Wallace Thoreson, Ph.D., vice chairman for research, professor for departments of ophthalmology and visual sciences and pharmacology and experimental neuroscience, is one of two UNMC faculty members who will receive Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students Awards at the Annual Faculty meeting on April 25.

Below, Dr. Thoreson reflects on what it means to mentor graduate students.

  • Name: Wallace Thoreson
  • Title: Gilmore Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Departments of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences; Professor, Pharmacology & Experimental Neuroscience
  • Joined UNMC: 1993
  • Hometown: Born in Minneapolis, grew up mostly in Columbia, Mo.

How many graduate students do you work with?
Currently three.

What are the greatest rewards of mentoring?
Seeing students get as excited about science and the projects that we work on as I am.

Describe a moment when you realized your influence made a difference in someone's career.
When I learned that I was receiving this award! I'm proud of past and present students, especially when I see them present quality talks and well-received papers.

List three things few people know about you.

  • My interest in science began with collecting butterflies, rocks and minerals in childhood. I started my undergraduate career as a geology major before switching to biology and was originally accepted for graduate studies in entomology before switching to physiology.
  • I ride my bicycle to work much of the year. When it's too icy to ride, I often walk to work.
  • I enjoy indie rock music. I've been accused of selecting music on the basis of its obscurity, although that's not (entirely) true. The one prerogative of seniority that I claim in the lab is that I can pick the music. Not everyone in the lab always appreciates my song selections (which range from hip hop to europop, hardcore punk to shoegaze, ska to emo, bluegrass to indie folk and beyond) and so I try to be considerate.


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Aaron Mercer
April 18, 2013 at 8:40 AM

Congrats again Wally! This is a most well-deserved award (although I may be a little biased...)

Brooke Dworak
April 15, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Congratulations Wally :)

Marlene Novotny
April 12, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Well-deserved! Way to go, Wally!

Lucia Cadetti
April 12, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Dear Wally! Congratulations! Working with you has been a wonderful experience! Not only you are a great scientist, but you are able to communicate your passion and your honesty to the people that work with you. Moreover, you always put a lot of effort in offering your students and collaborators a positive and welcoming environment, and this make work fun! You fully deserve this award!

Diana Do, MD
April 12, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Well deserved! You are a terrific leader and mentor for our ophthalmology department and UNMC. Best wishes for continued success! Diana Do, MD

kathy austin
April 12, 2013 at 5:37 AM

Congratulations Wally! I am so pleased you received this award. I have always said you are one of the "rocks" in my 19 years in ophthalmology, and that's a great thing. Not just your students learn from you!