Friday, April 7, 2017 – Reynolds Alumni Center

2017 Outstanding Advisor for Graduate Advising: Deborah Finke

Deborah Finke

Deborah Finke has been a member of the plant sciences faculty at the University of Missouri since 2007.

In 2013 she received the CAFNR Distinguished Early Researcher Award. Finke has published 31 refereed publications, advised 10 graduate students and been on the committee for 18 additional master’s and doctoral students. Her current and past graduate students describe her open-door policy, hands-on support, and encouragement to achieve above and beyond.

“She helped me transform into a scientist, researcher, and leader that I myself never imagined I could be,” said Elizabeth Y. Long, assistant professor, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. “She provided the training, guidance, and encouragement required for me to obtain the highest possible degree, and I sincerely feel that my success is in many ways a testament to her great investment in my development throughout my graduate career.

“During my five years at MU, I regularly heard other graduate students in my cohort say, ‘I wish I was in the Finke lab.’ I think this really speaks volumes about Debbie’s enthusiasm for graduate teaching and training — even students outside our lab could see it and wanted to be part of this unique mentor-mentee experience.”

“Outside of the lab or research, Dr. Finke supports her students in every part of their life,” said Jessica Kansman, graduate student. “From giving old baby toys to a student with a child on the way, or caring for my greenhouse responsibilities so that I can visit my family in Michigan, Dr. Finke goes above and beyond for her students.”


The letters of support by her present and former students make it clear that Debbie manages to be caring and at the same time instill uncompromising commitment to high quality research, a rare knack that enables her students to become very successful.

Walter Gassmann, professor of plant sciences