2021 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: Associate Professor Afsie Sabokbar
Afsie Sabokbar was one of the winners of a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her unwavering commitment to providing a strong support system to enhance both student and supervisor training and development across the University.
COMMITTED TO STUDENT DEVELOPMENT
As Director of Graduate Studies at Botnar Research Centre (NDORMS) and the Director of Skills Training Programme within the Medical Sciences Division, Afsie is recognised for working tirelessly to develop new and improved mechanisms for student training and development. As an example of one of her numerous notable endeavours, alongside Professor Raashid Luqmani, Afsie devoted 5 years to successfully develop and launch a biennial part-time taught Masters in Rheumatology (renamed to Musculoskeletal Sciences).
Since then, this pioneering program that allows clinicians and scientists to enhance their understanding in the diagnosis, pathophysiology, and management of musculoskeletal disorders has developed into an internationally renowned programme integrating orthopaedics and rheumatology. As Director of Graduate Studies of Botnar Research Centre, Afsie helped steer NDORMS as it grew from a handful of students in 2002 to the major departmental presence it holds today. At the Divisional level as Director of Divisional Skills Training, Afsie’s initiative continues as she has developed more than ten new training courses and numerous training opportunities for students in the MSD.
Her devotion to student education and wellbeing also expands to the wider Division and University: Afsie chaired the MSD Graduate Joint Consultative Committee for three years and has been an active member of the MSD Graduate School Committee for over a decade. She has also represented the Division at a number of University Committees, including the Student Wellbeing Sub Committee and the Research Staff Working Group.
Afsie’s dedication to supporting student progress is deep rooted. Inspired by her father who was a Professor in Parasitology and Microbiology, Afsie has always enjoyed the mentoring process. Her interest in teaching further manifested during her PhD and postdoctoral studies. Each student is unique and Afsie develops her teaching approaches bearing this in mind. She states, “the most contributory experience in my teaching career has been the individual students themselves; I endeavour to improve my teaching approach based on their feedback.” While Afsie’s commitment to student education has helped hundreds, the students in turn inspire Afsie. She cherishes seeing the advancement of her students and says she is, “in awe of students’ determination, resilience, and tenacity” as they achieve their goals.
CONTINUING TO MAKE STRIDES IN STUDENT TRAINING
Afsie’s role extends beyond the graduate student body and includes helping and guiding young principal investigators on how to best supervise DPhil and MSc students. As an open and accessible source of advice and guidance, she continues to shape the new generation of successful research leaders. With Afsie’s unwavering devotion to the students and the University, exciting new training and support opportunities will continue to manifest – in her own words, “I, with colleagues in MSD, am working on a new venture on formalising core training for graduate research students… so watch this space!”