UNMC News

Meet Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students Kay-Uwe Wagner, Ph.D.

Kay-Uwe Wagner, Ph.D., professor in the Eppley Institute, is one of two UNMC faculty members who will receive Outstanding Mentor of Graduate Students Awards at Wednesday's Annual Faculty meeting.

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

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Kay-Uwe Wagner, Ph.D., works with graduate student Nirakar Rajbhandari.
  • Name: Kay-Uwe Wagner, Ph.D.
  • Title: Professor in the Eppley Institute
  • Joined UNMC: July 2000
  • Hometown: Eisenach, Germany

How many graduate students do you work with?

I currently mentor three graduate students; one recently defended her dissertation and also gave an oral presentation at the AACR meeting this April. In addition, I have had three students graduate since 2009 who assumed positions as postdoctoral fellows. My first student who graduated is now an assistant professor of molecular biology and genetics at Missouri Southern State University.

What are the greatest rewards of mentoring?

It is rewarding to see that my students recognize how much I value their excellent contributions to the scientific progress we make in the laboratory. I am fortunate to have a great group of individuals, who all work as a team, and it is the team effort that shapes each member.

Describe a moment when you realized your influence made a difference in someone's career.

Before coming to UNMC, I was a postdoc at NIH and I used to oversee the work of several undergraduate and summer students. One of those students came from an underprivileged family of immigrants from Haiti. I was very happy to see that her career progressed to a point that she was accepted to Wake Forest School of Medicine. I was very proud of her when my wife and I were later invited to attend her graduation. She now practices internal medicine and is a good friend and godmother to one of my daughters.

List three things few people know about you.

  • I was born in Eisenach, Germany, a town with an exceptional history for its small size. For example, the birthplace of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach was just a few yards away from my school.
  • My wife and I have two wonderful daughters -- a kindergartener and first grader -- who speak English and German.
  • Recently, I picked up my guitar again to learn from someone who has a platinum recording hanging in his practice room -- that beats any citation index of our scientific articles.

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Lisa Spellman
April 24, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Congratulations on your award Dr. Wagner!