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As the sixth Hispanic-American to attend Swarthmore College in 1988, Michael Romero reflects that "I figured I would eventually end up in law school." Improbable as it may seem, his first declared major was Philosophy. But fate intervened: His first mentor, Dr. Gregory Florant (an African-American Biology Professor) changed his life forever. Romero remembers" ... he reached out to me personally, took me under his wing, and encouraged me to pursue a career in research. He took me into his lab, put me on a project, and kindled a fire that lasts to this day."
Dr. Romero's mentoring proceeds from the belief that one should not spoon feed projects to students, but conversely one should not allow students to struggle as the result of too little support. Romero's mentoring eschews use of the typical one-semester research experience for undergraduates in favor of intensive counseling and year-long immersion in laboratory work that enables his undergraduates to develop technical skills for completing big projects. Importantly, his undergraduate students also learn quickly that manuscript writing is essential for analysis, presentation, and communication of knowledge.
Michael Romero uses his endocrinology course to target talented minority undergraduates with the drive to succeed on a long trajectory through graduate school. Tufts has a strong commitment to admitting women and students of limited means-and since 1997, he has mentored 64 undergraduates (40 women and twelve from minority groups underrepresented in science fields). Twenty-three of his undergraduates are co-authors of published papers. Half of his undergraduates are co-authors on 44 abstracts presented at national or international meetings.
His graduate students are mentored not merely for success in research and grant writing, but for teaching excellence as well. All graduate students must give a number of lectures in Romero's undergraduate classes-both on their thesis research as well as general topics. Graduate students are also paired with undergraduate students for peer mentoring activities. Dr. Romero also mentors graduate students academically, professionally and personally in areas of career-life balance for example.
Fourteen of his undergraduates have entered prestigious graduate university programs. Three of his 10 graduate students have published 12 or more papers in professional journals, and two of his graduate students are post-docs (one at a renowned lab in Belgium and one at Yale University.) Remarkably, his graduate students have raised nearly $250,000 for their stipends, travel, and research supplies.
Dr. Romero is the recipient of a Mellon Foundation Research Semester Fellowship, the Tufts University Faculty Research Award and Award for Curricular Innovation, a National Science Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship and a Graduate Research Fellowship, the American Psychological Association Post-doctoral Fellowship, and the National Institutes of Health Minority Graduate Fellowship Grant. He is a member of the Sigma Xi Honor Society.