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Rajeshwari Sundaram Honored with 2020 Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award

1 August 2020 No Comment
Headshot of Rajeshwari Sundaram

Rajeshwari Sundaram

Rajeshwari (Raji) Sundaram was honored June 10 as the recipient of the 2020 Jeanne Griffith Mentoring award during a virtual ceremony hosted by the Interagency Council on Statistical Policy (ICSP). This year’s ceremony marked the 18th annual presentation of this award and the 12th year the Government Statistics Section (GSS) has managed the award process.

Sundaram earned her PhD in statistics from Michigan State University and a master’s in statistics (applied statistics and data analysis) from the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India. She is a senior investigator at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). She joined the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/Division of Intramural Population Health Research (DIPHR) in 2006 as a tenure-track investigator in the biostatistics and bioinformatics branch. In 2014, she earned a promotion to tenured senior investigator of biostatistics.

As frequently noted in her nomination letters, Sundaram has been exceptionally generous with her time spent mentoring and training staff at all levels. One of her mentees noted Sundaram has an amazing knack for inclusivity, meeting the needs of people from all backgrounds and at all levels and stages of their careers. She is known for listening carefully to questions and providing thoughtful answers that respect the mentee and build self-confidence.

Sundaram has played an active role in advising NIH trainees on their options for furthering their professional trajectories. As a mentee noted, Sundaram inspired her to pursue a graduate degree in biostatistics and counseled her on everything from choosing the right university to identifying appropriate graduate mentors and possible research areas to explore in graduate school.

Sundaram has also worked with mentees to help them develop an array of skills vital to their long-term success. One mentee credited her with significant improvements in his technical writing, adding that by the time he submitted a joint paper with her, he could defend the necessity, clarity, and truth of each sentence. In addition, he noted these skills transferred well to grant writing, where a few unclear sentences could be the difference in getting a grant funded or not.

Those persons nominating Sundaram emphasized she is known as someone who cares about and advances the professional development of her mentees by helping them refine their skills, gain exposure, and build connections through attendance at professional conferences and NIH events. As one mentee noted, Sundaram’s constant support increased her confidence in her research presentation skills and ability to communicate with those both in and out of her field.

The Award

The Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award honors Griffith, who died in 2001 after working for more than 25 years in the federal statistical system. The award acknowledges supervisors, technical directors, team coordinators, or other members of federal, state, or local government statistical staff who make unique efforts to mentor and encourage younger staff at all levels to learn and grow and to recognize and seize career opportunities. The award includes a plaque and $1,000 honorarium. Nominations for the 2021 award can be submitted beginning January 2, 2021.

Questions about the award may be sent to Rick Peterson or Bill Mockovak.

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