Tim Stemmler wins Wayne State’s 2019 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award

Timothy StemmlerThe Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is proud to announce that Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Associate Dean for Research Timothy Stemmler is Wayne State University’s 2019 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award winner. The award is given to one faculty member university-wide each year. 

“Tim is an exceptional scholar, gifted teacher and outstanding mentor who has enriched Wayne State with his uncommon constellation of skills. He cares deeply about the successes of others and about improving the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the college and the university,” said Professor and Chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences George Corcoran. “He embodies preeminence, scholarship, selflessness and compassion, and we are fortunate to have his talents at Wayne State.”

Each year, the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award honors a WSU faculty member whose teaching, scholarship and research have brought distinction to the university’s graduate programs. The award includes a $5,000 honorarium and a citation presented at the Academic Recognition Ceremony on April 25. Since the award’s inception in 1974, Stemmler is only the second individual from EACPHS to have won; Distinguished Professor Anjan Kowluru received it in 2015.

Stemmler came to Wayne State in 2000 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and quickly rose to the rank of professor in 2012. In 2013, he joined the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Since that time, he has held a variety of leadership roles including director of research, associate chair of pharmaceutical sciences, assistant and associate dean of the Graduate School, and now associate dean of research for the EACPHS.

In addition to his exceptional administrative service, Stemmler has maintained an active research program and substantial teaching responsibilities. He continues his internationally recognized research in iron-sulfur biosynthesis, helping us understand how proteins work and what role they play in the genetic disease Friedreich's ataxia, the basic science that must be done to find better clinical treatments. Stemmler and his team have applied biochemical, biophysical and structural tools towards this topic, an interdisciplinary approach that has been highly beneficial for not only his research, but also for the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

He has been highly successful in earning more than $8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Heart Association. His research on the function of Frataxin has been continuously funded by the NIH since 2005. He has also been involved with seven other NIH awards and four American Heart Association grants.

Stemmler has published almost 90 papers in top-ranked, high impact journals including Nature Communications, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Since 2000, his team has presented more than 90 papers at local, national and international meetings. He is in high demand as a speaker at universities and distinguished symposia across the world, including recent meetings in India, Canada, China and France.

Significantly, more than 90 percent of Stemmler’s papers list one or more student trainees as authors, a testament to his mentorship. He has graduated ten Ph.D. students and is currently training four Ph.D. candidates. His graduates have received postdoctoral appointments in prestigious programs including the University of California, Berkley, the Johns Hopkins University and MIT. He has mentored six master’s students, 30 undergraduate students and five high school students, and has been a committee member for dozens of Ph.D. and master’s students.

In WSU Applebaum’s doctoral and graduate programs, Stemmler has coordinated first-, second- and third-year seminar courses, and he has been exceptional at attracting outstanding speakers to the department, fostering an environment where graduate students can interact with some of the most gifted researchers in the country. He teaches Advanced Drug Discovery (PSC 7020), Introduction to Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC 4125) and the Research Scholars Development course (PSC 4395). Outside EACPHS, Stemmler lectures in NanoBioSciences (PSL 7215) and in courses at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and Stanford.

Most importantly for the university, Stemmler created and was the course director and a lecturer for Responsible Research Practices (GS 0900), which educates graduate students across WSU in plagiarism, ethics and responsible conduct in research. This course is a requirement for many federal funding agencies.

He serves or has served on more than 60 committees at the university and nationally, playing a vital role in the Henry Ford/WSU Consortium Planning and Steering Committee, the iBio Steering and Hiring Committees, and the Research Deans and Directors Committee. In addition, Stemmler is active on critical programmatic committees such as the Faculty Search, Strategic Planning Steering, Graduate, Assessment, and Academic and Professional Progress Committees. He also oversees WSU Applebaum’s newly created Research Scholars program.

While Tim has excelled at the highest levels, he hasn’t forgotten how difficult it is when you start,” said WSU Applebaum Interim Dean Catherine Lysack. “Tim gives all of that knowledge, insight and time so generously to his graduate students so they too can find their path. We also see that generosity in his actions as our associate dean for research, as he mentors junior faculty, and as he enthusiastically engages with all of us to lay the groundwork for more and better research collaborations and scholarly possibilities.”

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