“We learn through experience…we are always learning.”
That is how Linda Gutierrez, Wilkes University assistant professor of biology, looks at science. “I always tell my students to come to the lab with an open mind,” says Gutierrez. “I consider research a powerful tool for teaching and learning.” Her goal is to make students feel comfortable in her labs, located in the new Cohen Science Center. She likes them to be themselves and enjoy the journey of the scientific discovery. “For me, students are always first.”
Anup Patel, a Wilkes University biology senior, agrees with his mentor. “Dr. Gutierrez is very nurturing, very personal, and approachable. She is like a second mother.”
Dr. G., as she is affectionately called by her students, truly loves what she does. “I’m passionate about research and I speak with my eyes and my hands.” She also feels very lucky to have a fantastic group of students. “There is no pressure in my classes. We are like a family. It is a non-competitive environment. I encourage students not to be afraid of making mistakes as that is how we become good scientists.”
Dr. Gutierrez believes it is the responsibility of the mentor to make the interaction with students inspiring, thus encouraging cooperation and raising the bar for excellence.
Anup reflects upon his relationship with his mentor. “I have learned to pay more attention to small details, which is an essential ingredient in science. Dr. G has made me feel like a co-collaborator and helped me become a much better critical thinker --- a key component in science because experimentation must be accurate, using standardized data in order to produce a reliable conclusion.”
“She is constantly reinforcing scientific principles,” says Anup, “Yet she is open, approachable, and flexible to new ideas.” Anup has captured the excitement and passion for science, which are trademarks of his mentor. Dr. G describes Anup as an intelligent student who is meticulous, reliable, honest and good-hearted. “He has matured very fast, especially in his interaction with others.”
Dr. Gutierrez is working on a project involving angiogenesis, researching how specific proteins may inhibit the formation of new blood vessels nurturing the cancer cells and allowing them to proliferate. She says her role as a mentor is to help students discover their own capabilities, enabling them to be the best they can be. “I have seen the growth of my students over the years,” she says. “I really believe working in research can make a big difference in the personal and professional growth of our students.”