Carle Illinois College of Medicine Health Innovation Professor Zeynep Madak-Erdogan is taking on a new role to strengthen resiliency, mental health, and satisfaction among the 20,000 graduate students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Madak-Erdogan has been appointed as a faculty fellow at the Graduate College, where she will focus on improving the experience of graduate students. She will participate in Graduate College dean’s leadership team and act as a faculty liaison, in addition to spearheading projects related to student satisfaction and resilience.
As the Sylvia D. Stroup Scholar and an associate professor of food science and human nutrition, Madak-Erdogan has mentored both undergraduate and graduate students and has led initiatives that provide professional training opportunities that extend beyond the university. “Interacting with my trainees is the highlight of my career,” said Madak-Erdogan. “I am very interested in learning more about the current habits of graduate students and how we can use this information to design effective approaches to ensure student well-being while maximizing their training. We need to be innovative because classical tools might not capture these experiences widely.”
Carle Illinois medical students will benefit from Madak-Erdogan’s understanding of student experiences and well-being. “These are very high-performing students, and most of them come with prior professional experiences. Assuming Carle Illinois students have high resilience might be an oversight on our part and we might miss opportunities to further improve their medical school experiences.” Madak-Erdogan says one possibility is exploring the implementation of peer-support and mentoring groups to improve career outcomes.
“As a Graduate College fellow, I am given opportunities to improve student experience, both professionally and personally, in graduate school,” Madak-Erdogan said. “I feel that it is my responsibility to ensure that they are in the best shape, first physically and psychologically and then professionally, when they graduate and go on with the next chapter in their lives.”
In addition to her role as a Health Innovation Professor at Carle Illinois, Madak-Erdogan also serves as a program leader at the Cancer Center at Illinois and is the director of the Women’s Health and Metabolism Laboratory.