Published January 10, 2018
Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pharmacology and toxicology and senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, has been awarded the inaugural Dolores Shockley Minority Mentoring Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP).
The award is in recognition of an ACNP member who has been particularly successful in mentoring young scientists from underrepresented groups in the field of neuropsychopharmacology and related disciplines.
Dubocovich is an ACNP fellow and has been a member of the organization since 1998.
Dubocovich develops and implements innovative programming that ensures inclusion and cultural enhancement as a means to achieve excellence for students and faculty, enriching the learning environment, strengthening the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ ties to nearby communities and contributing in measurable ways to improving the health of the region.
She received the 2017 UB President’s Medal, given in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.
Dubocovich also has been cited as the 2017 Outstanding Research Mentor Award recipient from the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), a grant-funded program sponsored by the New York State Education Department to support talented underrepresented students pursing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), licensed professions and health-related professions.
As the inaugural senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, Dubocovich has worked tirelessly to build culturally diverse and academically inclusive communities of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and junior faculty engaged in bioscience research.
She is director of the Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences (CLIMB) Program, founded at Northwestern University and instituted at UB in 2009; co-director of the UB Institute for the Strategic Enhancement of Educational Diversity (iSEED); and principal investigator of two institutional grants funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) for doctoral students and the CTSA-linked KL2 Mentored Career Development Award for junior faculty.
David Dietz, PhD, associate professor and interim chair of pharmacology and toxicology, nominated Dubocovich for the ACNP award after speaking with a visiting scientist.
“This visiting faculty member was invited by doctoral students through the IMSD and iSEED programs to present a seminar and talk about diversity,” he says. “She was very impressed with the programs and Dr. Dubocovich and mentioned the award to me.”
Dietz says when he read the award description, it was as if the award had been created specifically to honor Dr. Dubocovich.
“Her reach in this very integral issue extends far beyond UB,” he says. “This award shows that the work started by Dr. Dubocovich in the medical school is recognized beyond UB at the national level.”
Dietz says it is one thing to talk about diversity, but it is another thing to actually implement it in instances of mentoring or incorporating it into the classroom.
“Dr. Dubocovich has a passion for this and is someone who can take the words and make them a reality. Her life is committed to this,” he says. “She is a world-renowned researcher, but she is also constantly working on this very important issue.”
“When you talk about diversity and inclusion, you are really talking about changing minds and hearts,” Dietz adds. “It’s about saying the right thing and doing the right thing.”
Dolores Shockley, PhD, was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in pharmacology in the United States when she received her degree from Purdue University in 1955. She was also the first African American woman to chair a department of pharmacology of an accredited medical school (Meharry Medical College in Nashville) in the United States.
Dubocovich accepted the award during the ACNP annual meeting Dec. 4 in Palm Springs, California.
“It was an incredible honor meeting and receiving the award directly from Dr. Shockley, who was in attendance with her wonderful family,” she says. “Dr. Shockley was introduced by the ACNP society president and received a long standing ovation. It was a remarkable moment.”
ACNP, founded in 1961, is a professional organization of more than 1,000 leading scientists, including four Nobel Laureates. The mission of ACNP is to further research and education in neuropsychopharmacology and related fields.