YSPH Announces Teacher, Mentor of the Year

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Mayur Desai recognized for the second time with top honor; Howard Forman receives mentorship award.

Learning epidemiologic methods in an intensive 7-week summer session and mastering the intricacies of the SAS software program for data analysis can be difficult and frustrating.

But students in Mayur Desai’s “Accelerated Epidemiology” and “Applied Analytical Methods in Epidemiology” courses describe their immersion in research methodology and the powerful computer program as “fun.”

Desai’s ability to bring epidemiology and data analysis—and their public health applications—to life did not pass unnoticed by M.P.H. students graduating this year. They selected Desai as the School of Public Health’s 2013 Teacher of the Year in an online ballot. He also received the honor in 2009.

“Dr. Desai is one of the best teachers I have ever met,” one student wrote on behalf of Desai’s nomination.“[He] excels at presenting complex epidemiological concepts … [and] is also extremely sensitive to students’ needs and concerns. His classes are interactive and he always makes sure to use real life examples while teaching.”

Desai, who has been with the School of Public Health since his days as a student in the early 1990s, said that teaching public health continues to be his passion.

“Teaching the next generation of leaders in public health research and practice is a joy and a privilege,” said Desai, M.P.H. ’94, Ph.D. ’97, associate professor in the Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology and director of YSPH’s one-year Advanced Professional M.P.H. Program. “I’m deeply honored by this award. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I’ve been able to help our graduates develop critical skills as they enter the next phase of their careers dedicated to improving health and health care for all.”

Desai’s colleague, Howard “Howie” Forman, M.D., director of the Health Care Management Program at YSPH, and professor of diagnostic radiology, economics, management and public health (in health policy), received the school’s Distinguished Student Mentoring Award. The honor recognizes people who are shaping the next generation of public health professionals.

Writing in support of Forman’s nomination, one student said that he is the definition of a mentor and a great asset to the School of Public Health.

“I remember moving to New Haven and having many thoughts of uncertainty. I was unaware of what my future would entail in this new town, but I knew that this next chapter in my life would be a pivotal moment. Fortunately, I found solace and guidance with Dr. Howard Forman who reached out to me before class began to meet over coffee,” the student wrote. “There, he warmly reassured me of my decision to pursue a degree at Yale. From that point on, my interactions with him have always been casual and friendly.”

Among the criteria for the mentoring award, the recipient is expected to be a role model for their students, convey their passion for public health and encourage students to achieve their full potential. Forman was nominated by graduating students and selected by a student/faculty sub–committee of the Education Committee.

Forman said he was honored to receive the award, noting “mentorship is a means in which our graduating students can have a disproportionately positive effect on the health of society and the future of our discipline.” He also added "mentoring is a lifelong opportunity to help others, not limited to our professional areas of expertise."

Dean Paul Cleary said that the School of Public Health is fortunate to have the dedication and expertise that both Desai and Forman bring.

“Drs. Desai and Forman are “best of the best” educators.  Their skills, responsiveness to student queries and interests, and dedication to providing an outstanding learning experience are  “best practices” for all of us to emulate,” he said.

Both educators will both be honored at the YSPH Commencement ceremony on May 20 at Battell Chapel, and their name will be inscribed on plaques that hang outside of Winslow Auditorium.


This Article was submitted by Denise L Meyer, on Friday, May 10, 2013.