A professor in The University of New Mexico Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering was recently selected for a New Mexico EPSCoR Mentor Award.

Ali Bidram is one of two professors to receive the award. Nominated by their mentees, recipients stand out for their exceptional efforts to build strong professional and interpersonal relationships with students; advance their mentees’ academic, research and professional goals; and create inclusive environments for diverse students.

Bidram is co-lead of two NM SMART Grid Center research teams and was nominated separately by multiple mentees for his inclusive personality and compelling instructional style.

“His lectures, talks and discussion are always informational and motivational. He is always interested in understanding a student’s culture and always [creates] an inclusive environment for every student. His ability to listen to students empathically and be there for them has developed a sense of ownership in me, which has eventually made me more mature and responsible at my work and decision-making level,” wrote one mentee.

Another student nominated Bidram because, “He is so patient, knowledgeable, accessible, supportive and reliable. His mentees always feel [comfortable] to contact him to share their concerns in each stage of their study. As a mentor, he respects all his mentees regardless of their race, age, gender, culture, etc. To be honest, I can always express my opinion and feelings to Dr. Bidram without any concern [of] misunderstanding. He works hard to advance his students' knowledge and experience to reach their goals.”

Bidram said he attributes his own success to the support of mentors throughout his career.

“I learned from my Ph.D. advisor that students come first,” he said. “If I have been successful in my professional career so far, this is because of the vision I have got from my mentors. [They] envisioned a bright future for me in which I could flourish and show my capabilities.”

The other recipient of the award, Olga Lavrova, is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at New Mexico State University. She is a previous faculty member of UNM’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

New Mexico EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation to build the state's capacity to conduct scientific research while cultivating a diverse, well-qualified STEM workforce. The current NM EPSCoR NSF-funded project, the NM SMART Grid Center, is addressing design, operational, data and security challenges of next generation electric power production and delivery.