Getting to Know Associate Dean La’Tonia Stiner-Jones
The third installment of our “Getting to Know” leadership Q&A series features La’Tonia Stiner-Jones, associate dean of graduate programs in the College of Engineering. Stiner-Jones has served as assistant dean since 2015 and is a biomedical engineering associate professor of practice. She also is the director of a new consortium created by The Ohio State University and the U.S. Air Force to increase opportunities in the Air Force for minority STEM students and graduates.
In her role as associate dean, she provides leadership of graduate affairs and professional development for graduate students and postdoctoral trainees. She also oversees strategic recruitment of graduate students with a focus on increasing diversity, including an annual Graduate Engineering Open House.
College of Engineering: What excites you most about this role and the work you’ll be doing?
La’Tonia Stiner-Jones: Plain and simple, I get to do the three things I am most passionate about every day. In this role I get to do research, teach and help students find their career paths and support their success. My dad told me when I was younger that if I found something I was passionate about, I would never work a day in my life. In this job I get to facilitate positive change, reduce barriers and increase success. I am excited every day to do my job!
CoE: What do you see as the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunity?
Stiner-Jones: In my view challenges are just opportunities. I think the greatest opportunity is helping us align our policies and practices with the goals and expectations we set for ourselves and our students. For example, collectively we all want talented, diverse graduate students, but as times change and markets shift we need to be nimble enough to shift and respond to the ways in which we recruit, develop and retain our students. We have the opportunity to leap ahead of our peers and be innovative in the ways in which we respond to change of various types and I am glad to say we are moving in the right direction.
CoE: What brought you to Ohio State?
Stiner-Jones: I have been at Ohio State since 2004. I came to complete a postdoc and ended up completing two in my field of expertise, immunology. I came to this university with plans of gaining additional expertise and training and ended up building my career here.
CoE: Do you have a favorite mentor?
Stiner- Jones: Not to diminish all the wonderful mentors I have had throughout my career, but there is one whom without her I would not be here today. As an undergraduate at Wright State University, Michele Wheatly took me under her wing and introduced me to research and a career in academia. She invited me into her lab and I fell in love with research. Until that point I had planned to go to medical school to become a pathologist. I had no idea what a scientist was really and that they generate new knowledge. Being able to ask a question that had never been asked before and prove or disprove it through experimentation was incredibly gratifying. I am forever grateful to her for investing time in me and seeing something in me I hadn’t yet seen in myself. She also introduced me to mentoring and getting women and underrepresented minorities into STEM. This is work I continue to this day in my current role. I owe her a great debt that I can never repay, but instead I pay it forward!
CoE: What about your favorite hobbies or interests outside of work?
Stiner-Jones: I love college basketball. As a former NCAA Division 1 basketball player at Wright State, I will always love basketball. I also love track and field and have recently become a soccer fan since my son began playing. And I am a huge fan of horror and action films.
by Meggie Biss, College of Engineering Communications | email@example.com