Each year, the VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program accepts nominations from students for our “Outstanding Faculty Mentor” Awards. Undergraduate researchers are asked to identify a professor or faculty mentor who regularly goes above and beyond to create and engage students in research opportunities.
Students provide a written statement that describes why the chosen nominee deserves an outstanding mentorship award, including specific examples that detail their nominee’s contribution to undergraduate research at VCU. The main criteria for these nominations include; how the faculty member has enhanced the skills related to undergraduate research in their discipline, how the nominee has expanded the knowledge base of student researchers, the ways in which the mentor has assisted undergraduates in their engagement with research, the lasting impression the mentor has made on students’ future academic and professional plans.
Please join us in recognizing our 2015 Outstanding Faculty Mentors!
Dr. Daniel Conway is Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Conway was nominated by undergraduate researcher and previous UROP Summer Research Fellow, Natalie Noll, who had this to say about her mentor’s guidance: “During my time working in Dr. Conway’s lab, he has constantly assisted me in my acquisition of knowledge in my field of research. By providing me with personal hands on learning, he made sure from day one that I was following procedure correctly, and performing every technique flawlessly. After participating in the UROP program, and having such a positive experience in Dr. Conway’s lab, I have changed my career path to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering so that I can do research for a living. Through Dr. Conway’s passion for his research and his willingness to employ students to do their own research projects in his lab I have come to love research.”
Dr. Andrew K. Ottens is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology in the School of Medicine, with affiliate positions in the Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Psychology. Dr. Ottens was nominated by undergraduate researcher and Biology major, Pallavi Pilaka. Pallavi included the following statement regarding Dr. Ottens’ mentorship in his nomination: “This semester Dr. Ottens has me leading a grant on the effect of childhood secondhand smoke on the relapse to alcoholism in adulthood. The knowledge I have acquired from Dr. Ottens has given me the opportunity to train another undergraduate student and a graduate student in conducting and analyzing behavioral assays and biofluid processing for mass spectrometric analysis on this grant. As an undergraduate, leading a grant is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and acquire real world knowledge and experience of what it would take to become a research graduate student. During my year in Dr. Ottens’s lab, my experience inspired me to pursue a career in Neuroscience; I will be applying to graduate programs this fall.”
Dr. Manoj Thomas is Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Systems with the VCU School of Business. Dr. Thomas was nominated by undergraduate researcher and previous UROP Summer Research Fellow, Siobhan Gray, who detailed the unique global service component of her mentor’s area of research: “The work I have done with Dr. Thomas as part of my Fellowship is why I am in the field I am. Helping others obtain access to technology is a great step forward for Haiti. Being able to be a part of the research solutions for those students was a great honor. My hope for my future is that I will be able to help others in the same way that I have helped the Haitian youth through my project. Working with Dr. Thomas truly opened my eyes to the challenges faced by many in the world. I hope to help others the wayhe has and to devise solutions for all those in need.”
Dr. Angela Starkweather is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems in the VCU School of Nursing. Dr. Starkweather was nominated by undergraduate research and previous UROP Summer Research Fellow, Jeff Petraco, who had this to say about his research mentor: “Dr. Starkweather’s engaging and supportive approach makes working through even the most challenging issues an intellectually enjoyable experience. By skillfully assessing students upon their expression of interest in research, Dr. Starkweather’s approach builds on their strengths to enable them to develop research skills commensurate with their abilities and background. Her joy for research and her dedication to and compassion for her students encourage them to give serious consideration to pursing a graduate degree in nursing research.”
If you are interested in recognizing your faculty mentor for the outstanding guidance they provide to you and other undergraduate engaged in research and scholarship at VCU, please recognize them by nominating the for future Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awards here: http://go.vcu.edu/uropmentoraward
Questions or concerns? Contact your UROP Director, Herb Hill at email@example.com