History of Mentorship

Students in the College of Life Sciences spend much of their time in the John A. Widtsoe Building and the Thomas L. Martin Building. These two buildings were named after pioneering educators who came to BYU and made a difference. John A. Widtsoe and Thomas L. Martin are two giants who laid the foundation of the College of Life Sciences and of Brigham Young University.

John A. Widtsoe

John A. Widtsoe was the first BYU faculty member with Ph.D. training. His focus on advanced degrees for faculty helped to lay the foundation of the College of Life Sciences.

Thomas L. Martin

Following in Elder Widtsoe’s footsteps, Thomas L. Martin lived a philosophy of mentoring students, encouraging them to meet their potential, and then bringing some of them back to help build BYU.

Alan Lee

Alan Lee graduated from BYU in Molecular Biology in 2008 with the intent of going on to medical school. During his time at BYU Alan performed mentored research under the direction of Dr. Kim O’Neill. He excelled in his field and was able to present the results of his work on early cancer detection. Dr. Giuseppe Giaccone of the National Institutes of Health saw Alan’s work and offered him a fellowship usually reserved for graduate or post-doctoral students.

Chris Kelsey

The mentoring of Dr. Keith Crandall shaped the career of Chris Kelsey. Chris graduated from BYU, went on to medical school and did his residency in Oncology at Duke University medical center. He now practices medicine, teaches, and performs research at Duke University Medical School.

Steven Johnson

As Elder Widtsoe and Thomas Martin would have it, some of those who go on for advanced training come back to BYU. 78 of 102 faculty members in the College of Life Sciences today are such “returners”. Steven Johnson graduated from BYU, went on to San Diego State University for a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology then to Yale for a Ph.D., where he made significant discoveries in genetics and DNA sequencing. He then went to Stanford University for post-doctoral work. Dr. Johnson has recently joined the faculty of the College of Life Sciences.