Manuel Leal celebrated for contributions to graduate education

Melody Kroll
News Source
Mizzou Biology

The Division of Biological Sciences congratulates Professor Manuel Leal whose contributions to graduate education have been honored with receipt of the 2020 Outstanding Departmental Contribution Award from MU’s Graduate School.

The award was announced by Dena Lane-Bonds, a graduate research assistant for the Graduate School, in a video that served as this year’s Annual Graduate and Postdoctoral Awards Ceremony.

“Dr. Leal is passionate about excellence in science, and he conveys this passion to his graduate students, which inspires them to pursue outstanding research and learning opportunities,” said Lane-Bonds. “He is a strong advocate for graduate students and has been a great partner to the Graduate School working to improve opportunities for underrepresented graduate students. He is always willing to offer up his help and is persistent in pursuing pathways that will enhance graduate education at Mizzou.”

“I am extremely humbled by such recognition,” said Leal. “However, in my opinion, this award is a group recognition, because our graduate program is a group effort in which faculty, staff, and students all contribute to our success.”

Leal was appointed Director of Graduate Studies in 2019. As director, Leal coordinates the graduate education for the Division’s 60+ graduate student population. He also chairs the Division’s Graduate Education Committee and serves as the primary point of contact for faculty, current and prospective students, and the Graduate School.

A behavioral and evolutionary biologist, Leal has mentored eight graduate students in his lab and has served as a member of over 20 graduate student committees. His lab investigates the biological mechanisms that shape the evolution of behavioral traits and the possible role of behavior in promoting species diversity in West Indian anoles.

Leal is the recipient of the Division’s Eisenstark Fellow Award, which recognizes faculty who demonstrate excellence in research and graduate mentoring. He was appointed a Presidential Fellow by the UM System in 2019.