Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, an expert in maternal-fetal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, has been honored with a 2018 Nature Award for Mentoring in Science.

Aagaard is the Henry and Emma Meyer Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor. She serves as vice chair of research for obstetrics and gynecology and a professor in the Departments of Molecular and Human Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. She is a member of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, Digestive Disease Center, Eisenberg Center for Decision Sciences, the Center for Microbiome and Metagenomics Research, and the School for Tropical Medicine. She is co-director of Baylor’s Medical Science Training Program M.D./Ph.D. program.

Founded in 2005, Nature’s mentoring awards celebrate mentorship, a crucial component of scientific career development that often goes overlooked and unrewarded. Each year, Nature gives the awards in a different geographical region, and this year’s awards honor outstanding mentors in the U.S. South. Awardees are nominated by a group of their former trainees, from different stages of the mentor’s professional life.

“I am beyond humbled and honored with receipt of this award,” Aagaard said. “One of the great privileges and responsibilities of academic medicine is mentoring the next generation of scientists and clinician scientists. I truly love the enthusiasm, compassion and challenge that our mentees bring to the lab and to the patient’s bedside. Cultivating their curiosity and enabling them to ask the right queries in order to find meaningful answers to the big questions of life is the best part of every day.”

With receipt of the prize money from the 2018 Nature mentorship award, she will establish the Aagaard Research Mentorship Award in Pregnancy & Women’s Health. The goal of the award will be to recognize a mentor-mentee pair who demonstrates excellence in what she considers to be of greatest importance: engaging bright minds in often neglected arenas of scientific interest, engaging historically neglected minds in science and medicine, and retaining talent and earned knowledge in pregnancy and women’s health research.

“I am delighted at the achievements of our awards winners, and I am especially enthused this year at the diversity of their experiences and of their commitments to mentoring,” said Sir Philip Campbell, editor in chief of Springer Nature. “It's wonderful for Nature to be able to celebrate researchers who have been so outstanding in their encouragement of a strong scientific ethos in those who come after them.”