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Doctoral Student Advisor Awards Announced

Soil Scientist, Historian Receive Doctoral Dissertation Advisor, Mentor Awards

UCR’s Graduate Division recognizes Robert C. Graham and Clifford E. Trafzer for their guidance of graduate students through their advanced degree work.

(June 13, 2006)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — When it comes to guiding doctoral students through the rigors of achieving their degrees, soil scientist Robert C. Graham and historian Clifford E. Trafzer have emerged as this year’s most successful faculty mentors, receiving the 2006 Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Awards.

Faculty are nominated for the Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring award by their students. This year’s awardees were selected from a committed and exemplary group of nominees, Graduate Division Dean Dallas Rabenstein noted.

“From the nomination letters, it is clear that Professors Graham and Trafzer truly have the respect and admiration of their students,” Rabenstein said. “It also is clear that the overall quality of mentoring on our campus is reflected in the attainments of our graduate students.”

The Graduate Council of UCR’s Academic Senate — the campus faculty’s governing body — and the Graduate Division, which coordinates graduate studies campuswide, instituted the Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Award in 2003 to recognize faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the education of advanced graduate students at the university. The 2006 recipients are listed below:

Robert C. Graham
Prof. Graham is a soil mineralogist in the Department of Environmental Sciences. He came to UCR in 1986 after completing his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. His research focuses on mineral weathering, wild land soils and the function of soil in landscapes and ecosystems. Nine students have completed Ph.D. dissertations and 10 have completed their masters’ theses under his direction.

Current and former students who wrote in support of his nomination for the award noted his integrity and respect for students as prime personal qualities, putting students first and leading by example. His students also cited his encouragement for them to present and publish their work.

“Professor Graham’s strengths as an advisor lie both in his own talents for research and in his ability to bring out the best talents of his students,” one student wrote.

Graham said he enjoys sharing in students’ discoveries about the natural world and seeing them develop their own style of research, teaching and leadership.

“I have to say, though, that my job as an advisor and mentor has been made relatively easy because I've been very fortunate to have had excellent students and I've been in a very supportive department,” Graham said.

Clifford E. Trafzer
Prof. Trafzer is a historian of Native Americans and has been on the UC Riverside faculty since 1991. He completed his Ph.D. with a specialty in American Indian History at Oklahoma State University. He was a museum curator and archivist in addition to holding other teaching positions before joining the UCR faculty. Trafzer has authored or edited a dozen award-winning books on aspects of Native American history.

"My greatest joy in dealing with Graduate Students is knowing I am helping direct them to achieve excellence through their research and publications, which positively influences their teaching," Trafzer said. "I want each student to be the best scholar possible and I do all I can to make this happen for my students."

Students note and respect his scholarly accomplishments and assistance in enabling them to achieve their own success. They credit him with providing the support and resources needed to publish their work.

One student wrote: “Without his encouragement, I would not have come this far.” Another wrote of Trafzer: “He is an exceptional educator; he effects great change in students, providing them the tools needed to become independent professionals, capable of mentoring others.”

Robert C. Graham

Robert C. Graham

Clifford E. Trafzer

Clifford E. Trafzer

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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