SU AgCenter scientist hailed as mentor _lowres

Photo provided by LaKeeshia Lusk -- Recent Southern University graduate Mar'Lesha Hollins, left, of Jackson, and her mentor, SU Agricultural Center research scientist Janana Snowden, of Zachary, examine the antibacterial soap Hollins made with hibiscus sabdariffa extracts for her thesis, which she defended May 3.

In an article that appeared in the fall 2015 edition of EGO Magazine — Southern University’s official student magazine — recent graduate Mar’Lesha Hollins, of Jackson, was asked which professor or administrator was the greatest mentor to her or extremely helpful during her time at Southern. The graduate student acknowledged SU Agricultural Center research scientist Janana Snowden, a Zachary native.

Snowden, who is at SU AgCenter investigating the medicinal properties and functions of natural products, met Hollins last summer when Snowden served as an adjunct genetics instructor for the Department of Biology, which Hollins said was her favorite class.

Hollins said in the article she enjoyed Snowden’s teaching tactics so much, she asked if Snowden would serve as her honor’s thesis mentor.

In Hollins’ thesis, defended on May 3, she investigated the antibacterial activity of soap formulation utilizing hibiscus sabdariffa extracts at the Southern AgCenter.

Hollins graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology on May 13, making her the second to graduate with an honor’s thesis under Snowden’s mentorship.

“Since 2006, while working on my doctorate in environmental toxicology, I’ve served as a research mentor for the Upward Bound Math and Science Program, and after graduating and beginning my career as a research scientist with the SU AgCenter, I’ve continued mentoring not only students in the program but universitywide, with most of my students being from the Dolores Spikes Honors College,” Snowden said. “As a mentor, I feel the most important aspect is offering that listening ear or that positive voice needed in stressful or difficult situations.”

Snowden went on to explain that she teaches her mentees to apply problem-solving tactics used in the classroom to real-life situations and provides encouragement to her students by offering up some of her own experiences.

Snowden also discussed how serving as a mentor can be a challenging but rewarding experience.

“Mentoring several students at once keeps me on my toes as well as knowledgeable. The students all receive different projects, and I have to stay on top of each one,” Snowden said. “The most rewarding part of serving as a mentor is seeing my students graduate college and bearing witness to their growth and success as young adults and professionals.”