Congratulations to our Outstanding Faculty Mentor Awardees for 2017!

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 2017 Outstanding Faculty Mentors!

Dr. Sevag Gharibian, Dept. of Computer Science, VCU School of Engineering – Student: Justin Yirka

Dr. Gharibian surprised me and offered to let me work with him as part of his Quantum Computing Lab, even insisting that I be paid for my time. Dr. Gharibian took the time to help me build the necessary background – a full semester before I ever took the related courses. Over the course of the next year, Dr. Gharibian treated me not just like an adult, but as a peer. Of course, the publication, the conference acceptance, and the experience listed on my CV are invaluable for my future applications. But now, as I look forward to continuing my work in quantum computing at the University of Maryland this summer, and as I prepare to apply to graduate programs, I can say that I am most thankful for the confidence that Dr. Gharibian inspired in me to pursue such opportunities. Dr. Gharibian helped to teach me that the title “undergraduate” carries no limitations, and to realize that the professional world will evaluate me based on the work I produce.”


Ms. Megan Hodge, VCU Libraries – Student: Cassidy Sheehan

“My personal relationship with Megan solidifies my conviction that she is one of VCU’s outstanding undergraduate research mentors. We became very close while working together for the 2015 Honor Summer Undergraduate Research Program and undertaking an independent study during Fall 2015. With Megan’s guidance, I gained both important research skills and valuable life lessons that have since defined my career goals. Megan assisted me in writing a review of library management literature, an experience which has enhanced my ability to research systematically and to use evidence concisely. Megan has highlighted multiple venues where I could present our research, giving me ample occasion to improve my presentation skills. Furthermore, Megan has encouraged me to pursue opportunities that will facilitate my goal of becoming an English professor. Her insights gave me a new perspective on academia that will guide my professional path throughout my life.”


Dewey Taylor, Mathematical Sciences

Dr. Dewey Taylor, Dept. of Mathematics – Student: Morgan Norge

Dr. Taylor is one of the most inspiring professors that I have ever worked with. She is passionate about what she does and, most importantly, passionate about her students. The knowledge that she has passed onto me is extremely valuable and I will be eternally grateful for the time she has put in working with me. She is caring, explains things in a way that is accessible to students, and gives her students opportunities and experiences that could never be replaced. She believed in me before I believed in myself and she showed me the power of combining hard work and knowledge. I am an applied mathematics student and she has guided me in research in an area of mathematics that is completely out of my comfort zone. Without her, I would have never explored pure mathematics and come to find out that I actually really love it. I never thought that I would be able to successfully do anything in pure mathematics, but with her help I have been able to present and publish on research in graph theory.”

Please join us in congratulating our outstanding faculty mentors, and all faculty who provide guidance to our students at VCU.  Undergraduate research at VCU would not happen without the commitment and contributions of our mentors!