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Maria Linder Is Inaugural Shields Award Recipient

Scientist Cited for Excellence in Scholarship, Student Mentorship

May 10, 2013

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President Mildred García hugs Maria Linder after announcing that the professor is the first recipient of the Shields Award.

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For her excellence in research, mentorship to her students and commitment to the educational mission of Cal State Fullerton, scientist Maria C. Linder is the inaugural recipient of the L. Donald Shields Excellence in Scholarship and Creativity Award.

During a surprise visit to Linder's morning seminar with her Howard Hughes Medical Institute scholars, President Mildred García today presented her with the award before the educator's students and colleagues, who cheered the news.

“Thank you for all you do for our University and our students, and for bringing research to our community. You are our superstar,” said García, who also presented Linder with a congratulatory letter from the award's namesake, who served as Cal State Fullerton's second president from 1970-80. 

“You have two presidents who are so proud of you. You are a role model for our University faculty,” added García. 

The professor of chemistry and biochemistry thanked the president and the award selection committee for "an overwhelming honor,” she said. “I’m one of many wonderful faculty members who are great scholars. I’m pleased that this is an award for research and scholarly activity. I’m so glad to be recognized for my research.” 

Linder, who joined the faculty in 1977 following a post as associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been involved in research in the field of nutritional biochemistry. Her research focuses on mechanisms of copper transport, especially in the period before and after birth, and on how the iron stores in the body are tapped when needed.

During her tenure, Linder initiated grant proposals that have won the university more than $12 million in competitive grants, including funding for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute program, which she directs. Under the program, Titan undergraduates and students from nearby colleges and high schools, conduct high-level research projects with faculty members. Throughout her career, she has mentored students and engaged them in research experiences.

Colleagues lauded Linder for her "exemplary record of mentoring students," ensuring they played major roles in her research, and for going the extra mile to make sure her students are professionally and fiscally supported.

Navid Madani '90, '92 (B.S. biochemistry, M.S. chemistry-biochemistry), a research scientist at Harvard Medical School with a hospital appointment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, met Linder as an undergraduate chemistry student in 1989. "I know that my success in science and humanitarian work can largely be attributed to the impact that Maria Linder had on me as a student and young scientist ... For me, (Linder) is probably the best scientist and teacher that I have come across. She takes her mentorship of young students incredibly seriously and trains us to become successful future scientists, investigators and health professionals."

Lawrence W. Gray '05 (B.S. biological science), a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that "Dr. Linder's belief in being a well-rounded scientist, both experimentally and socially, provided me with opportunities to showcase the results of our efforts at numerous national research conferences. ... Ultimately her commitment to my success was instrumental in the decision to follow in her footsteps."

Linder has published more than 125 articles, often including her students as co-authors, written two books and received numerous accolades, including the University's Outstanding Professor Award (1984-85), the California State University Wang Family Excellence Award (2007), and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Distinguished Faculty Member (1998 and 1992).

She earned a B.A. from Vassar College, a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University and did postgraduate work at MIT and Harvard Medical School.

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

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