Biological sciences researcher receives Harshini V. de Silva Award

Adam Reitzel, professor of biological sciences, is the 2022 recipient of the Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award. He was honored at a special ceremony Tuesday, March. 15.

“Dr. Reitzel is amazingly supportive of all students training in his research lab,” said Shelcie S. Menard-Harvey, lecturer of biological sciences at Louisiana Tech University. “He is patient, knowledgeable, eager to learn new things and excited to help each individual discover their professional strengths and passions. He does not push his own agenda on his students but instead encourages them to be curious and try new things, allowing their interests to guide them to their ultimate destination in science.”

Reitzel, who also is graduate programs director for the Department of Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and co-director of the Center for Computational Intelligence to Predict Health and Environmental Risks (CIPHER), has secured over $2 million in research grants. His current research focuses on understanding the role of microbial communities in the development and stress tolerance of marine species, the mechanisms of genetic adaptation in response to climate change and the molecular biology of circadian clocks.

“Dr. Reitzel has a knack for figuring out what each student needs from him and being exactly that, plus some,” said Remi N. Ketchum ’21, a postdoctoral associate at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, University of Florida . “While his mentoring style is fluid, his dedication to his students is not. Dr. Reitzel is unwaveringly supportive, consistently strategizing ways to give his students a competitive edge and committed to creating an inclusive and diverse lab atmosphere.”

As a mentor, Reitzel has served as an advisor to 19 doctoral and graduate students and 34 undergraduate students. He has authored numerous publications with his students and has been invited to present his research at universities and conferences across the country. In addition to training his students as scientists, Reitzel engages his students in teaching and community service. Most notably, he and his students work with North Carolina community colleges to increase the retention and success of transfer students in biology.

“Dr. Reitzel’s selfless mentorship has allowed me to be a better scientist, but how he conducted himself on a daily basis has shown me how to be a better and happier person,” said Tyler J. Carrier ’20 Ph.D., Division of Marine Microbiology at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

Reitzel completed a doctorate in biology from Boston University, a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University.

The Harshini V. de Silva Graduate Mentor Award honors its namesake, an exceptional teacher, brilliant scholar and researcher and devoted servant of her profession and community. The award is given annually to the faculty member whose commitment to students, research and scholarly inquiry most closely exemplifies the spirit of de Silva.