Justin Jaworski — 2008 Student Dean’s Mentoring Award Winnner

April 09, 2008

<a href="/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/jj3sized.jpg" title="Justin Jaworski"><img src="/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/jj3sized.jpg" alt="Justin Jaworski" align="right" height="253" width="370" /></a>Justin Jaworski exemplifies the common belief that music and mathematics are not as distinct as they might appear on the surface.<br/><br/>The fourth-year graduate student whose interests lie in studying the phenomenon of flutter in flexible objects such as airplane wings or bridges is also a consummate singer, having spent his undergraduate and graduate years singing with Chapel Choir, the Vespers Choir and the Duke University Chorale.<br/><br/>&#147;Music is a great combination of math and creativity, the analytical and the aesthetic,&#148; he said. &#147;The reason I first came to Duke as an undergraduate was my huge interest in math and science, as well as in music. I can do both here – in balance.&#148;<br/><br/>He is also the recipient of the 2008 Dean&#146;s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, which recognizes &#147;the considerable efforts and accomplishments of graduate students who consistently serve as effective mentors.&#148;<br/><br/>Jaworski&#146;s initial experience with the role of a mentor occurred while he was a Pratt undergrad, and then a Pratt Undergraduate Fellow, working in the lab of Earl Dowell. Though he didn&#146;t fully realize it at the time, Jaworski said, Dowell facilitated his success in engineering school.<br/><br/>A key element was networking, a modestly acknowledged but important part of mentoring,&#148; Jaworski said. &#147;There were many things Earl did to ensure a smooth transition for me that I now understand he did without my conscious knowledge. For example, whenever I travelled, he always made sure I talked to the right person or made the right contact.<br/><br/>&#147;He always spoke to me, and other students, as peers,&#148; Jaworski, a Tampa Bay native, added.<br/><br/>After graduating, he had a brief sabbatical at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but returned to Duke mainly because of Dowell and his research opportunities. He hopes that what made Dowell a good mentor for him and others has rubbed off on him.<br/><br/>&#147;I really enjoy working with undergraduates and grad students on their research projects,&#148; Jaworski said. &#147;Even more, I enjoy the interactions that go beyond just the research – especially helping students prepare for the next stage of their careers, whether it&#146;s graduate school or somewhere else.<br/><br/>&#147;I know that I would eventually like to teach, so I value the opportunities to serve as a mentor to others,&#148; Jaworski said. &#147;It gives me the chance to interact with students, to come up with new ways to teach a particular concept, and to help guide the research project of someone else.&#148;<br/><br/>Last summer, Jaworski won a $5,000 North Carolina Space grant to study alternatives to batteries as a source of electricity. One of the students working on the project was Will Gardner, a junior in mechanical engineering and materials science.<br/><br/>&#147;Justin has always been very approachable and accessible,&#148; Gardner said. &#147;He works hard. I&#146;m not the only student who works with him – others have had the same experience. He&#146;s the kind of guy that you can discuss the technical aspects of some problem in one moment, and then go out and have a beer the next.&#148;<br/><br/>Jaworski, as well as winners of other Dean&#146;s Awards, will be formally honored during a ceremony April 22.<br/><br/>