Thole recognized with Palmer Faculty Mentoring Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Karen Thole, professor and head of the mechanical and nuclear engineering department, is the recipient of the 2015 Howard B. Palmer Faculty Mentoring Award, an award that honors and recognizes outstanding achievement by a faculty member with at least five years of service who effectively guides junior faculty. It is named for Howard Palmer who served as senior associate dean of The Graduate School from 1984 to 1991.

Junior faculty say Thole is “extremely generous” with her time and resources, which allows them to excel. An expert in gas turbine heat transfer, Thole oversees more than $18 million in research projects, but junior colleagues say she always finds time to guide and mentor them. Following Thole’s nomination, one junior faculty colleague was selected for MIT’s 35 Innovators Under 35 Award, which recognizes top researchers and their impact on the global community.

Thole has instituted a series of policies aimed at strengthening junior faculty. One such policy is a regular lunch series, which pairs senior faculty speakers or representatives from various academic support units with junior faculty members. Discussions focus on graduate student advising, effective teaching strategies and methods for securing research funding. One faculty member said the lunches provide invaluable information but also offer a chance to build relationships with senior members.

Thole also employs a junior faculty mentoring program, which provides assistance to junior members in securing promotions and tenure, and methods for securing and diversifying research.

“Thole is a truly outstanding mentor to junior faculty members and tirelessly promotes our work within and outside the Penn State community while providing support to our career development,” said a junior faculty member.

Last Updated April 09, 2015