Robert Knight, M.D.

Landis Award for Outstanding Mentorship
Photo of Dr. Robert Knight
University of California, Berkeley, CA

Trainee letters for Dr. Knight clearly demonstrate that he is a beloved mentor, who approaches mentoring with humility and humanity, and is a true champion for women in STEM. He prioritizes the needs of his trainees in many ways: as examples, he supported trainees with young children by converting an office in his lab to a nursery and went out of his way to ensure work-life balance for his trainees, including providing help to line up postdoctoral positions for his own trainees so they could be closer to family. Trainees described how Dr. Knight maintained that his meetings with trainees take precedence over everything else, including meetings with other faculty members.  Scientifically, Dr. Knight requires that all trainees “own” their projects, for which he provides “gentle” guidance, places a heavy emphasis on rigor and ethics, but ensures that the trainee is the lead intellectual voice. Because of the breadth of science created by trainee ownership, the subject matter of the lab is far-reaching across many fields, which makes for an intellectually rich environment. Grounded in passing his passion for science to others, Dr. Knight founded “Frontiers for Young Minds,” a journal aimed at introducing science and scientific concepts to pre-teenagers and teenagers. This award-winning journal connects these secondary school students with distinguished researchers, who submit articles for publication that are reviewed, critiqued, and then discussed editorially by the students with the submitting scientists, who thus serve as scientific mentors for these students. Dr. Knight's research program studies the neural mechanisms by which frontal cortex controls distributed neuronal ensembles critical for both cognitive and social behavior, using neuropsychological, neuroanatomical and electrophysiological techniques to study the physiology of prefrontal function in normal subjects and in neurological patients with frontal damage.