2017-18 Faculty Mentor of the Week
Congratulations to all of the 2017-18 Faculty Mentors of the Week! We greatly appreciate your leadership and support of undergraduate research at the University of Kentucky.
Week 36: May 7, 2018 - May 11, 2018
Dr. Corrine Williams is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society in the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Williams is also the Director of Graduate Studies for the MPH Program, as well as the Interim Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs. Even with her busy schedule, Dr. Williams has mentored four undergraduate students and two graduate students. Her research interests include women, gender and health.
Dr. Williams says “One of my favorite things is when someone who has been struggling to understand how all of the pieces fit together finally gets it. There's a moment of recognition that is unmistakable, and in that moment you know that you'e made a difference.” She continues to say that "I think struggling with a problem, and then discovering that you can in fact solve it, is an important growth opportunity that gives people confidence to tackle even bigger problems." Dr. Williams also encourages faculty to mentor undergraduate students, "I think it's important for faculty to realize that everyone has the potential to make a contribution, and sometimes fresh ideas and having to bring someone up to speed on your research lets you re-engage with the topic, even if you've been working on it for years."
When looking for undergraduate mentees, Dr. Williams looks for two key factors that are intertwined -- "undergraduate students who can work independently, but also realize when they need more or further instructions, make great research assistants." She adds that "there's sometimes a mentality that they have to figure it out, but as least in the beginning, there a lot of learning that needs to happen, and it's important to recognize that everyone has to ask for help sometimes."
Dr. William's passion for research and her work reflects greatly on her mentees. Dr. Corrine Williams believes that "undergraduate research can provide amazing value to both the student and the faculty member. I'm always amazed at what excited, engaged undergraduates can accomplish on my research projects, and I know that working on real problems helps them in their future careers or education." We greatly appreciate the outstanding mentoring Dr. Corrine Williams provides and the difference she is making for so many UK undergraduates.
Week 35: April 30, 2018 - May 4, 2018
Dr. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez is a Principal Research Scientist with a focus on Biofuels and Environmental Catalysis at the UK Center for Applied Energy Research. Dr. Santillan-Jimenez completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at the Universidad Autonoma de San Luis Potosi in Mexico and received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Kentucky in 2008. Dr. Santillan-Jimenez's research interests focus on the application of catalysis to the production of renewable fuels and chemicals, with emphasis on the upgrading of algae and vegetable oils to drop-in hydrocarbon fuels via decarboxylation and hydrotreating.
In the past year, Dr. Santillan-Jimenez has mentored an undergraduate student from France, five UK undergraduates, two undergraduate students from Kentucky State University, and one high school student. He also directs an NSF-funded mentoring program that "has involved and continues to support dozens of UK undergraduate students by helping them access both mentoring and research opportunities." When asked how mentoring adds value to his life, Dr. Santillan-Jimenez stated, "Working with students is certainly the most rewarding part of my job at UK. Indeed, although research may have its ups and downs, helping students achieve their goals and make an auspicious entry into academic and professional careers is consistently encouraging and inspiring."
When looking for undergraduate research mentees, he looks for interest, self-motivation, and professionalism (encompasses qualities including punctuality, trustworthiness and collegiality). Dr. Santillan-Jimenez adds, "To borrow a maxim often used by a colleague, we hire the attitude and teach the skills." When asked about the importance of undergraduate research, he replied, "I often tell undergraduate students that research is the perfect way to gain valuable hands-on experience, set themselves apart from their peers and gain some experience in fields other than that directly related to their major. Indeed, employers are always looking for individuals who have a clear idea of how a working environment operates, who stand out from all other candidates and who have proven to be both versatile and trainable. Research experiences give undergraduate students the opportunity to attain all that and more, as students can also travel to conferences to present the results of their work, which gives them the opportunity to hone their communication and networking skills.
Dr. Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez is the true meaning of a successful mentor and his dedication and support continues to be appreciated by the Office of Undergraduate Research, as well as his mentees.
Week 34: April 23, 2018 - April 27, 2018
Week 33: April 16, 2018 - April 20, 2018
Week 32: April 9, 2018 - April 13, 2018
Week 31: April 2, 2018 - April 6, 2018
Dr. Thomas Zentall is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Zentall leads the Comparative Cognition Laboratory where he studies the cognitive behavior in animals including memory strategies, concept learning, and social learning. Over the last year, he has mentored 30 students.
Dr. Zentall says “I love teaching and stimulating students to think critically about theories of behavior. I find that often the questions that students ask become the basis for novel hypotheses that lead to new research questions.” He believes one of the most rewarding aspects of research is "when student ideas form the basis for new experiments to test those hypotheses. I could not do research without their help and input."
When looking for undergraduate mentees, Dr. Zentall looks for "reliability, curiosity about behavior and the willingness to think about alternative explanations, intelligence, commitment, willingness to work as a team, and the ability to think critically." Dr. Zentall values undergraduate reserach and says, “It is my goal to get students to think critically about research. This process can be applied to many activities their chosen career.”
Dr. Zentall was nominated by one of his mentees, who said, "I am nominating Thomas Zentall because of his dedication to his students. He has encouraged me to grow as a student as well as a person. Dr. Zentall is always the first one in the office and the last one out. He loves when students bring him new research ideas. He is always encouraging students to be involved in research and strives for students’ excellence."
Dr. Zentall’s passion for research and his work reflect greatly on his mentees. We greatly appreciate the outstanding mentoring Dr. Thomas Zentall provides and the difference he is making for so many UK undergraduates.
Week 30: March 26, 2018 - March 30, 2018
Carol Street, an Undergraduate Research Archivist at the UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center, is inherently drawn to creative people and the creative process. "Hardly anyone thinks of archives as creative spaces," Carol explains, "but to me they are, and I am so delighted to share that excitement with my students. In the past year, Carol has formally mentored seven undergraduate students and says, "It is truly a privilege to work with the engaged, creative, and motivated undergraduate students here at the University of Kentucky.”
Serving as a mentor to undergraduate researchers offers her a unique experience to share her work with her students, she says “Each student influences me in different ways—for some it’s their positive attitude and for others it’s their insatiable curiosity or fearless determination. But each student—with all of their gifts and challenges—makes me a better mentor, and for that I am grateful to each of them.” When accepting mentees, Ms. Street looks for "engaged and curious students who want to know more about their world, both past and present.“
She is a strong supporter of undergraduate research and believes the experience is invaluable. Ms. Street states, "Through programs like the Learning Lab, where undergraduates work intensely with archival collections, students test themselves to become scholars.”
Ms. Carol Street leads by example and her work with undergraduates is greatly appreciated. Thank you Carol for your dedication and support!
Week 29: March 19, 2018 - March 23, 2018
Dr. Mairead Moloney is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences at UK. Dr. Moloney’s overarching career goal is to become an independent investigator of insomnia and sedative hypnotic use among the health disparities population of Appalachian women. A few of Dr. Moloney’s research interests include medical sociology, gender, sleep, stress, and aging and life course. Dr. Moloney believes that undergraduate research adds great value to students, “Good research requires the ability to think critically and creatively about social and scientific problems. Undergraduate students who acquire these skills are better equipped to succeed in their careers, and beyond.”
Dr. Moloney is an inspiration to her students and mentees. She explains that her role as a mentor "has created immense value in my life. It might sound cliche, but I always feel like I learn more from my mentees than they do from me. I'm so grateful for the perspective, insight, and expertise they share.” This year Dr. Moloney is mentoring five students. When looking for mentees, she looks for students who are self-motivated, can work well both independently and in teams, and possess a great deal of intellectual curiosity. She continues, “They needn’t have finely honed research skill sets, just the desire and discipline to learn and practice their new skills.”
Faculty mentors, such as Dr. Mairead Moloney, provide support, coaching, training opportunities, as well as presentation and research experiences. The Office of Undergraduate Research celebrates Dr. Moloney’s support and dedication to undergraduate research.
Week 28: March 12, 2018 - March 16, 2018
<<<< SPRING BREAK >>>>
Week 27: March 5, 2018 - March 9, 2018
Dr. Jennifer Wilhelm is a Professor and Department Chair of STEM Education at UK. Dr. Wilhelm’s research investigates how people understand science and mathematics concepts as they participate in project work that demands the integration of multiple content areas.
Dr. Wilhelm has mentored eight undergraduate students in the last year. When asked about her role as a mentor, she stated, "I enjoy teaching the students I mentor how to read, interpret, and conduct research. I also enjoy seeing my students grow and achieve in academia." One student that Dr. Wilhelm mentored has become an assistant professor who is now advising her own students and another just received notification of acceptance of her first research proposal. "Such a broad spectrum of students at different points in their research and careers helps to keep me current, grounded, and joyous," said Wilhelm. In her undergraduate research mentees, Dr. Wilhelm looks for ambition, a strong work ethic, and perseverance.
Dr. Wilhelm values undergraduate research and explained, "Working with undergraduate student researchers offers mentoring professors the ability to illustrate through strategic experiences research from the ground up. Determining these experiences can sometimes make research have more purpose and incorporating students’ perspectives can take the research to the next level."
Dr. Wilhelm’s passion for research reflect greatly on her mentees and UK. The Office of Undergraduate Research appreciates and celebrates her as this week’s Faculty Mentor of the Week.
Week 26: February 26, 2018 – March 2, 2018
Dr. Philip Crowley is a Professor of Biology, Ecology, and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology with the College of Arts and Sciences at UK. He is also the Director of the Ecological Research and Education Center. Dr. Crowley’s research addresses a broad range of issues in ecology, especially evolutionary ecology, in an effort to understand the structure and dynamics of ecological populations and communities, life histories, and underlying behavioral mechanisms.
Dr. Crowley has mentored four undergraduate students in the last year. When asked about how his role as a mentor affected his life, he replied, “I love working one-on-one with students on research projects, both undergrads and grad students (and some high school students too). It is exciting because we never know what is going to happen. Encouraging students to deal with contingencies and accept what the data say is meaningful both to them and to me. Getting students excited about doing science keeps me excited about it too!” When looking for mentees, Dr. Crowley looks for an engaging student, “You don’t have to talk to a prospective mentee for long to tell whether they’re really committed to doing a project, engaged in discussing it, ready to go where it leads, not just checking off a box for their resume.” Undergraduate research adds great value to students and he adds, “The opportunity to do research with an accomplished researcher as an undergrad is THE reason to come to a research university. Doing a project early on connects you with a faculty member, schools you in thinking rigorously about a question, and is just plain fun!”
Dr. Crowley’s passion for research and his work reflect greatly on his mentees. The office of Undergraduate Research appreciates his outstanding mentoring provided and celebrates him as this week’s Faculty Mentor of the Week.
Week 25: February 19, 2018 – February 23, 2018
Dr. Ellen Usher is not only an exceptional Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Kentucky’s College of Education, but also the Director of the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab and an outstanding mentor. Dr. Usher’s research focuses on the sources and effects of beliefs of personal efficacy from the perspective of social cognitive theory.
In the past year, Dr. Usher has mentored 16 undergraduate students and stated, “I get most of my professional energy from my research engagement with undergraduate students.” Dr. Usher’s mentees have enriched her life and made her research better in so many ways, including “taking my research to places I never would have guessed, taught me a lot about my own research interest – motivation and learning in diverse contexts, and watching students with little or no research experience come to be. It’s so exciting to be a part of the moment when the research came alive.” When looking for undergraduate research mentees, Dr. Usher looks for a fire…curiosity, eagerness, passion for pursuing justice, openness and humility coupled with a questioning spirit, as well as someone who is witty and fun.
When describing the value of undergraduate research, Dr. Usher replied, “Undergraduate students often bring the freshest, most interesting questions to my research lab.” Dr. Usher is the true meaning of a successful mentor. The Office of Undergraduate Research appreciates her dedication and support to her mentees and research!
Week 24: February 12, 2018 – February 16, 2018
Dr. Peter M. Kekenes-Huskey is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry with a passion for chemistry and mentoring. Dr. Kekenes-Huskey joined the University of Kentucky faculty in chemistry in 2014, and his research interests include calcium, cardiac, molecular dynamics, and partial differential equations. Dr. Kekenes-Huskey states, “My research reflects a long history of exploiting computation to solve problems in biology, chemistry and physics.”
Over the last year, Dr. Kekenes-Huskey has mentored a dozen students, including high school, undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students. When asked about the value of mentoring, he replied, “Einstein has been attributed with the quote "You don’t really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother". My mentees have been brilliant, yet distilling widely accepted scientific dogmas to my team has improved my understanding and ability to communicate. In this process, these discussions often reveal new directions as we challenge widely held, but infrequently questioned beliefs.” Dr. Kekenes-Huskey understands the value of mentorship and looks for mentees “who are passionate about their work and strive for challenges that are uncomfortably difficult.” He believes that the value of an undergraduate student doing research lies in the fact that "undergraduate research catalyzes the growth of a classroom 'learner' to a 'doer' that can make outstanding contributions to society."
Dr. Kekenes-Huskey was nominated by one of his mentees, who noted “his commitment to the success of his students/mentees and his unwavering motivation and love for science. Dr. Huskey pushes his mentees to grow as scientists as well as people. Always there to celebrate the highs of exciting results and to push through the lows of research dead ends.”
Thank you Dr. Kekenes-Huskey for your support and dedication to undergraduate research and your mentees. The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to recognize Dr. Peter M. Kekenes-Huskey as this week’s Faculty Mentor of the Week!
Week 23: February 5, 2018 – February 9, 2018
With her research focused on mechanisms that regulate blood-brain barrier function in Alzheimer’s Disease, Dr. Hartz has been a mentor to 10 students in the past year. She finds research exciting but requires patience. “Being a mentor gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact on my students’ career and life on a daily-basis. I can watch them grow and I can be part of this development…as a parent it fills me with joy seeing my kids grow up. As a mentor it fills me with joy seeing my students grow as scientist and it is exciting to follow them on their path,” says Dr. Hartz.
Like many great mentors, for her mentor-mentee relationship is key. She believes great results evolve when both sides communicate openly and effectively. She says, “Mentees should be open for advice and be able to give their mentor feedback. I look for students that are willing to hear what they need to hear and not what they want to hear. And of course, given that research is not a dash but a marathon, I look for mentees who are willing to commit and work hard on their projects.” Dr. Hartz has been involved in research for most of her educational and academic life and understands the true value of it. As she explains, “The value for an undergraduate doing research is that it gives them insight into a whole new world. The value for me of an undergraduate doing research is the fun I have showing them the world of science and guiding them along the way”.
Dr. Hartz’s passion for research and her work reflect greatly on her mentees. We greatly appreciate the outstanding mentoring Dr. Hartz provides and the difference she is making for so many UK undergraduates.
Week 22: January 29, 2018 – February 2, 2018
Dr. Esther Black received a Ph.D. at the University of Florida in Biomedical Sciences. While completing her postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University, she initiated experiments to examine oncogenic signaling pathways using both biochemical and genomics tools. Dr. Black's lab focuses on understanding how to better predict cancer patients’ response to small molecule and immuno-targeted therapies.
Last year, Dr. Black mentored 2 undergraduate students and believes that “mentoring is always a time to continue to grow. Mentees frequently bring good ideas to the bench and a spark to the lab environment.” When accepting her mentees, she looks for curious, driven, and accepting undergraduates to share with her work in the laboratory. She adds, “Research is an art and a science. It builds a person’s grit and patience.”
Dr. Black’s work with undergraduates makes a difference! Thank you Dr. Black for your dedication and support of undergraduate research.
Week 21: January 22, 2018 – January 26, 2018
Dr. Michele Staton joined the faculty in the Department of Behavioral Science in January 2017. Her research focuses primarily on substance users in the criminal justice system in rural communities, with a specific focus on high-risk related health consequences including HIV and HCV. Last year, she mentored 8 undergraduate students who were “passionate and curious about wanting to do science, and want to make a real contribution to science - such as a poster presentation at a meeting or contributing to an original scientific publication.”
Dr. Staton believes undergraduate research allows students to gain invaluable life lessons, “all of us at UK care deeply about the awesome responsibility we share in teaching and training undergraduates so that they can find their right career paths, so that they can be happy and successful in life.” She believes undergraduate research has influenced, not just her mentees, but also her, she says “When you do science, the results of your experiments are not always what you anticipate, and I am not just talking about failed experiments. Often, an undergraduate project will yield a result that makes you think about a problem in a different way. In this sense, undergraduate research projects have influenced the way I think about designing experiments and more generally, how I do science.” She agrees that undergraduate course provide knowledge, key ideas, and introductions to work in a lab, “However, to understand how knowledge is created in a lab through scientific process, and determine if a scientific path is the right career choice, you have to make a commitment to working in a lab as an undergraduate researcher.”
Week 20: January 8, 2018 – January 12, 2018
Lindsey Fay, an Assistant Professor in the University of Kentucky’s College of Design, researches post-occupancy evaluation to assess the design of healthcare spaces and their impact on care delivery.
In the past year she has formally mentored three undergraduate students, but says she is “always looking for ways to encourage our students to seek out their own research opportunities or engage them in the work that I am doing.” Serving as a mentor to undergraduate researchers offers her a unique experience to share her work with her students, she says “I cannot begin to express how influential their work has been on my own research. Without our undergraduate student researchers, my research would not be possible. It's been such a rewarding and mutually beneficial process!” When accepting mentees, Ms. Fay searches for creativity, problem-solving skills, and organization; she adds “I also look for team players. Our students make great collaborators and having the opportunity to work on a research project is just another great way for students to gain collaborative experience.”
She is a strong supporter of undergraduate research and believes the experience is invaluable. Undergraduate research helps students “realize the value of basing design decisions on evidence. Beyond this, it opens them up to more clearly understanding how interdisciplinary our field is. …I believe it helps the students better understand the value of design.”
Ms. Lindsey Fay leads by example; her work with undergraduates is greatly appreciated. Thank you Lindsey for your dedication and support!
Week 19: January 1, 2018 – January 5, 2018
Dr. Kristin Ashford received her BSN from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and master's degree in nursing from the University of Louisville. She received her PhD in nursing from the University of Kentucky in 2007 and is an Associate Professor in the College of Nursing.
Throughout her time at UK, Dr. Ashford has mentored over 20 students, 6 of which joined her team last year. She says, “mentoring students is an integral part of my professional role and a way to ‘give back’… Investing in students has also allowed me to invest in myself, as they continually renew and remind me of the passion I had when I first embarked on my research career.” Dr. Ashford adds, “Their excitement is contagious and helps gets me through the occasional complacency I have experienced at different times in my research career.”
When picking her mentees, she looks for students with CAN-DO attitudes and believes “It is important for students seeking mentorship to be self-starters, energetic, reliable and professional. I look for one that would ask ‘what more can I do’ or ‘how does this process work’ rather than ‘how many hours do I need to complete.” Dr. Ashford, a great role model and mentor, believes that pursing undergraduate research is an opportunity to “challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone and STAND OUT!”
Week 18: December 25, 2017 – December 29, 2017
Dr. Molly Fisher joined the University of Kentucky in 2009 as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics education. This year, she is mentoring 8 students, adding to her list of 23 mentees in the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program.
One of her favorite aspects about research is getting to cross paths with education majors in other areas, including elementary and special education. She says, “Having their expertise in this program has been invaluable, because they bring other perspectives to my world of STEM Education. I have grown to have a better appreciation of their background and classroom experiences, and I’ve been able to use that in my own teaching and research.”
When looking for mentees, Dr. Fisher looks for independence and self-motivation, and adds, “I want my mentees to be able to be independent enough to carry out a task and then come back to the research team with questions and insights about their work. That involves being motivated and having good time management skills.” She acknowledges the fact that conducting research is hard, “but, the faculty are extremely supportive and want to help you succeed. In the end, the value of doing undergraduate research makes the process worthwhile.” Dr. Fisher continues, “It can help you succeed in other classes and it’s also a great stepping stone to graduate school. If any undergraduate student is considering going to graduate school, then an undergraduate research experience is a very worthwhile endeavor that will open many doors for them to graduate education.”
Dr. Fisher inspires her students and mentees to give back to their communities through education. Thank you Dr. Fisher for your efforts and contributions to UK students.
Week 17: December 18, 2017 – December 22, 2017
Dr. Jenny Minier is a Professor in the Department of Economics in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Minier's primary research interests are in economic growth and development, particularly the role of financial markets in economic development and the relationship between democracy and economic growth.
Last year, Dr. Minier mentored a senior at the Liberal Arts Academy at Henry Clay and has also worked with Chellgren Fellows, students writing honors thesis, as well as students with summer undergraduate research support. She is a firm believer in working one-on-one with her mentees, “Working one-on-one with students adds another dimension to teaching. While I also love the interactions that happen in a classroom setting, working with individual students allows me to learn more about their interests, skills, and life more generally than is typically possible with an entire class.”
Dr. Minier has had a great influence on her students and vice versa, she says “I think that one of the most important things I’ve learned from them is that research isn’t only helpful to students planning to go to graduate school in economics – several students in different careers have told me how helpful their research project was, both during job interviews and in their work.” Her main requirement in a mentee is a good attitude, in addition to acceptance, confidence, and flexibility. “These skills – independence, collaboration, flexibility – are important for so many types of careers, and for life in general. One of the main advantages of attending a flagship research university like UK is access to faculty who are top researchers, giving students the opportunity to learn from, and work with, people who are contributing directly to research in their field.”
Dr. Minier is the perfect example of a mentor. Her guidance and support to her mentees makes a big difference. Thank you Dr. Jenny Minier!
Week 16: December 11, 2017 – December 15, 2017
Ms. Scoobie Ryan is the Associate Director of the School of Journalism and Media. When asked about how many students she has mentored in the past semester she said “Your question is so simple, but the answer is quite complicated. Technically, I would say I mentored four students last year, but, there’s a lot of informal mentoring that goes on in the School of Journalism and Media and it’s collaborative mentoring.” Her strong passion for mentoring is clearly reflected in her mentees, “In April, Campus Voices swept the Associated Press broadcast awards in the best public affairs radio category. In total, seven of my students won first, second and third place awards.” She adds, “Working with students is one of the great joys of being on a University campus. When one of those students is curious and wants to explore and learn, it makes me happy.” Ms. Ryan believes, “Doing journalism is a different type of research than most traditional academic research. I love it. Nurturing that passion in students and having them come to appreciate our Constitutional freedoms and the First Amendment keeps me going.”
Ms. Ryan has affected many of her mentees, but they have also done the same for her, “It’s inspiring to see someone blossom from a shy high-schooler to a brave young woman who is willing to go to some of the most dangerous places on Earth, speak truth to power and stand up for those who have so little in this world. It makes me grateful for all I have in my life.” She is happy to help any student in need, but when it comes to working with a student one-on-one, she looks for honesty, passion, curiosity, and readiness to fail until they succeed. Scoobie Ryan adds, “Passion and knowledge will guarantee success. Grades don’t always equal success. Integrity is vital.” She believes there are many ways to add knowledge to our world, two of which are academic research and solid journalism and stated, “at this time in our country we need both.”
Ms. Scoobie continues to guide students and help them reach their career goals. Both, UK students as well as the Office of Undergraduate Research appreciate her efforts and contributions.
Week 15: December 4, 2017 – December 8, 2017
Dr. Warren Alilain grew up in San Diego, CA and received his Ph.D. at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. Dr. Alilain joined the University of Kentucky in 2015 and is now an Associate Professor of Neuroscience with the College of Medicine and affiliated with the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center.
This past year, Dr. Warren Alilain has been a mentor to 4 undergraduate students, 2 graduate students, and 1 medical student. Dr. Alilian has been providing support, guidance, and guiding these students, just as his previous mentors did with him. Dr. Alilain says, “my mentors looked at me as more than just a student, but saw me as an individual with my own expectations, values, and beliefs.” When discussing his role as a research mentor, he replied,”I try to recognize and appreciate my mentees' own values and career goals and I want to help them achieve them. Above all else, my mentees make me want to be a good teacher and person and somebody worthy of being a mentor.” When it comes to picking students, he says “I look for hard workers with a conscientious attitude. Those two qualities together will yield impressive results.”
He is a strong believer in the value of experiencing research as an undergraduate. He adds “One of the values of having undergraduate research experience is that it allows students to apply what they learn in the classroom in an environment where they can potentially make a difference. It also presents a challenge that once overcome can give a great sense of achievement.”
Dr. Alilain continues to be an inspiration to his mentees. His work is greatly appreciated by his mentees, as well as the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Read more: https://scobirc.med.uky.edu/users/wjal223
Week 14: November 27, 2017 – December 1, 2017
Dr. Joseph Chappell became Chair of the UK College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2013. Dr. Chappell is an acclaimed natural product scientist and helps develop the College’s expertise in plant derived drug candidates. The past two years he has been an outstanding mentor to an undergraduate student. “Students try research and sometimes they find it is their “cup of tea” and sometimes they learn it isn’t. Both are valuable experiences for the students.” Chappell replied, “And when they learn they like research, then they get the bug and want to turn over more moon rocks.”
Dr. Chappell develops personal relations with his mentees and maintains open communication with them. Dr. Chappell prefers “combining wits” with his mentees to tackle a problem, because research is not a one-man job. “Research is a two-way street. For those who think research is just going into your closed laboratory and performing experiments by your lonesome, they are missing the value and importance of the all the communication that goes one.” When looking for the perfect mentee, Dr. Chappell looks for sincerity and interest. He says, “Sometimes, young persons think they want to try research, but it becomes apparent quickly if they aren’t into it heart and soul. That’s when we have a heart-to-heart chat about what is your real interest. And as long as the student then launches down a better path for themselves, the rewards are equally great for them and for myself.”
His laboratory has embraced student mentoring over the years, generally supporting one or two undergraduate research scholars per year. He adds, “Doing research is learning how to set challenges for yourself and learning about yourself. And, there is nothing more fun then seeking to turn over a moon rock and see what is underneath!”
Dr. Chappell is the true meaning of a successful mentor! His work continues to be appreciated by the Office of Undergraduate Research as well as his mentees.
Week 13: November 20, 2017 – November 24, 2017
Dr. Wendy Liu is a Senior Lecturer of Finance and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Finance and Quantitative Methods at Gatton College of Business and Economics. Every year, she informally mentors over 1,000 students! That large number comes from, Liu says, “the large classes I teach and my efforts in helping students in and outside Gatton in their career development. I am the faculty advisor to a finance student organization that has seen 200+ members in the past year.”
Dr. Liu is an inspiration to her students and everyone she mentors. Liu says “students inspire me. They make me want to be the best professor to them I can possibly be. I don’t want to sound melodramatic – but the past three years (since I joined UK) have been such a good journey for students and me, full of memorable moments when students excitedly told me of their successes. I simply cannot imagine a life without students… They show high level social skills, technical skills, work ethic, and ambitions that inspire other students and myself.” When looking for mentees she looks for “willingness to work hard. Equally important is the timing: The competition in marketplace is so intense that students should really start in freshmen year developing soft skills, build leadership experience, and exploring career paths.”
Undergraduate research adds great value to students, Dr. Liu adds, “Doing research builds not only relevant technical knowledge but also critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills in the process. I would strongly encourage students to seek out research opportunities as early as possible.”
Faculty mentors, such as Dr. Wendy Liu, provide support, coaching, professional networks, training opportunities, as well as presentation and research experiences. Dr. Liu’s dedication to her students is very much appreciated, as is her invaluable contribution, expertise, and guidance to undergraduate students.
Week 12: November 13, 2017 – November 17, 2017
Dr. S. Randal Voss - College of Medicine - Neuroscience
Dr. Randal Voss joined the University of Kentucky in 2002 as a Biology professor and became a professor of Neuroscience with the College of Medicine this past summer. Dr. Voss is also an Associate with the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center. Last year, he mentored 13 students, including 8 undergraduates, 4 graduate students, and 1 high school student. “I think all of us at UK care deeply about the awesome responsibility we share in teaching and training undergraduates, so that they can find their right career paths and can be happy and successful in life. Sharing my biological knowledge and love of doing science with students that go on to be successful in life is invaluable,” stated Dr. Voss.
His passion for research is reflected on his mentees, “I think all of my mentees have influenced me; undergraduate research projects have influenced the way I think about designing experiments and more generally, how I do science.” As a mentor, Dr. Voss looks for students who are passionate, curious, and want to contribute to science. “Undergraduate education courses at UK provides the foundation for learning key concepts and knowledge, and in some cases, they provide an introduction to what goes on in a laboratory setting. However, to understand how knowledge is created in a lab through scientific process, and determine if a scientific path is the right career choice, you have to make a commitment to working in a lab as an undergraduate researcher,” says Dr. Voss.
Dr. Randal Voss is one of UK’s many great mentors who are always willing to guide students. His work is definitely appreciated by the Office of Undergraduate Research and his mentees.
Week 11: November 6, 2017 – November 10, 2017
Dr. Judy Goldsmith - College of Engineering, Computer Science
With research interests that include decision making under uncertainty; computational social choice, automation of information elicitation, preference elicitation, representation, and computational complexity, Dr. Goldsmith has been a tremendous research mentor to 10 students this past year. She takes mentees starting from high school students all the way to Ph.D. students.
As much as she influences the way her students think, her mentees have a great influence on her too, she says “Most of my research has been driven by student interests, and research is a huge part of my life. Some of my favorite co-authors were my students, and my former postdoc has radically changed how I think about pedagogy and computer ethics.” When looking for a mentee, she looks for someone with “interest in their field (usually, but not always, computer science), a willingness to show up and communicate with me, and some creativity.”
In 2016, she received one of the first CRA (Computing Research Association) Undergraduate Research Mentoring Awards. Dr. Goldsmith believes the statistics that prove that undergraduates who do research, on average, do better in college in terms of grades, personal satisfaction, and post-graduate employment. “Some of that is attributed to the feeling of belonging to a research group, some is access to an advisor, and some is the satisfaction of the work itself.” When questioned about student research projects, Goldsmith replied, “Students should look for projects that excite them and/or professors whose management style works well for them.”
Dr. Goldsmith remains a strong force of inspiration to not only Computer Science students, but all engineering students. Thank you Dr. Goldsmith for allowing students to discover their potential.
Week 10: October 30, 2017- November 3, 2017
Dr. Ryan Temel - College of Medicine
Dr. Ryan Temel is not only an exceptional assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, but also an outstanding mentor to nine students. He is one of the Spirit program mentors and greatly enjoys having a diverse background in his lab. Dr. Temel says, “getting to know the mentees has allowed me to learn a lot about different cultures and mindsets. In addition, I have developed close personal relationships with many of my mentees.” Like many mentors, Dr. Temel looks for students who are “intelligent, sociable, dedicated, thoughtful, and independent. It is also extremely important that mentees be excited about and engaged by their research.”
Dr. Temel believes undergraduate research is necessary and states, “Research in biomedical sciences has great value for undergraduate students, since it provides them with the opportunity to contribute and gain insight on the cutting-edge science.” He also appreciates diversity in his lab and says, “Our lab is quite diverse and consists of male and female staff and students from the US, China, India, and Taiwan. The SPIRIT students that I have mentored over the past three summers have added even greater diversity to our lab and bring a unique religious and cultural perspective. During a time when many in politics and the press negatively stereotype Muslims, the SPIRIT students show us that individuals from Middle Eastern and other predominately Muslim countries are friendly, considerate, and intelligent people.”
Dr. Temel is the true meaning of a successful mentor; his work continues to be appreciated by the Office of Undergraduate Research as well as his mentees.
Read more: https://pharmns.med.uky.edu/users/rete222
Week 9: October 23, 2017- October 27, 2017
Dr. Julie Hobbs - College of Fine Arts, Music
Dr. Julie Hobbs is Assistant Professor of Flute at the University of Kentucky, where she teaches Studio Flute and is a member of the McCracken Woodwind Quintet. Dr. Hobbs holds a Doctor of Music degree in Flute Performance from Northwestern University as well as degrees from Baylor University and the University of Iowa. Her primary teachers include Walfrid Kujala, Helen Ann Shanley, and Betty Mather. Last year, she considered herself a mentor to 20 students, with 5 actively working on research projects. Her continuous hard-work and mentoring has inspired students and sparked the interest of her students even more. She says, “One of my students is developing a method for teaching new performance techniques to younger flutists, and I personally have used a few of her strategies in the classroom to great success." Dr. Hobbs continues, “Another student is currently researching the phonetics of the French language and connecting it to how flute players perform works by French composers. This has personally influenced my own playing.” Dr. Hobbs’ mentees must be curious, since she believes that “great topics begin as great questions, such as “I wonder why that is?” She also believes that, “following your interests in a way that is beneficial to others in the field will be at the heart of whatever you do professionally. Starting a research agenda while an undergraduate student will develop the confidence and skills every young professional needs.”
Dr. Hobbs' is a great inspiration to her students and mentees. Thank you for your great work Dr. Hobbs.
Week 8: October 16, 2017- October 20, 2017
Dr. Elizabeth Head - College of Medicine
Dr. Elizabeth Head has a strong interest in neuroscience with a research focus on prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. Last year, Dr. Head mentored 6 students, 2 of which were part of the UK SPIRIT program from Al-Fasail University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Her passion for research reflects on her mentees. Dr. Head says, “I enjoy watching my students grow and learn how to be scientists. As a researcher, it is also very important to me to lead by example and share a passion for research. If we are going to find cures for devastating diseases, we need to continue to teach and provide exciting opportunities for mentees so that they go on to become our next generation of scientists.”
In her mentees, Dr. Head looks for enthusiasm. “Almost everything about bench science can be learned, but a positive attitude, dedication and a desire to learn absolutely have to be expressed by that mentee.” When asked about being a mentor for students from different cultural backgrounds, through the UK SPIRIT program, she said “Our lab is always excited to have students from different countries and cultures, with positive attitudes, who we can learn from and, in turn, can learn from us. Science is an international collaborative effort and having students from various backgrounds work in our lab provides us with new, interesting perspectives on our work. Our SPIRIT students have been a true joy and have significantly enriched our laboratory and research team.”
Week 7: October 9, 2017- October 13, 2017
Dr. Chris Crawford - College of Arts & Sciences, Physics and Astronomy
Dr. Crawford has a strong interest in Nuclear Physics. He earned his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 before becoming a UK physics and astronomy professor. Last year alone, Dr. Crawford mentored 19 students!
His mentees inspire him with the energy and creativity in which they approach research and how they are able to juggle so many different activities. He appreciates students sharing their excitement with him. In his mentees, Dr. Crawford looks for “motivation and independent creative thought.” He says, “I accept everyone interested in doing research in my group and try to tailor projects to each student’s unique background, interest, and talents.” He, like many other professors, is a strong supporter of undergraduate research. Dr. Crawford says “Undergraduate research complements coursework, giving students a chance to apply their textbook knowledge to real-life problems. It helps students discover their own passion early in college, giving direction to their education and future career, albeit research or otherwise.” He adds, “teaching helps organize your thoughts and imagine new research directions, while research provides a wealth of experience to draw from in class.”
Read more at: https://pa.as.uky.edu/users/cbcraw2
Week 6: October 2, 2017- October 6, 2017
Dr. Luke Bradley - College of Medicine
Dr. Bradley completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at Ohio University and received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio State University. He was a Council of Science and Technology Postdoctoral Research and Teaching fellow at Princeton University, where his research focused on protein design, protein engineering, and synthetic biology.
This previous year, Dr. Bradley mentored nine students total. He believes being a mentor has enriched his life, as it is rewarding for him to have students challenge themselves in the context of a research project and grow in positive, new directions. Dr. Bradley says “The lessons learned, by everyone, often go beyond the research projects and prepare [the students] well for the next stages of their careers and life. The mentees provide a valuable energy, enthusiasm to what we are working on.” When picking his mentees, he looks for curiosity and desire to be independent. He believes “undergraduate research is the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom. Not only will you get the opportunity to get technical training and experience, but you also get to ask and hopefully answer questions that haven’t been answered before.” Dr. Bradley adds that his students are definitely not the only ones benefiting from the experience, “It has been a wonderful experience for everyone. The SPIRIT students quickly become integrated in the lab and everyone learns from one another.”
Dr. Bradley is the true meaning of a successful mentor, his work continues to be appreciated by the Office of Undergraduate Research as well as his mentees.
Read more at: https://biochemistry.med.uky.edu/users/lhbrad2
Week 5: September 25, 2017- September 29, 2017
Mr. Dan Howell - College of Arts & Sciences, English
From a collection of poems, Mr. Howell’s, Lost Country (Massachusetts), was the runner-up in 1994 for the Norma Farber First Book Award of the Poetry Society of America, and short-listed for the 1994 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. He has taught English and creative writing courses at a number of schools, including the University of Kentucky, Louisiana State University, Loyola University Chicago, UC-Irvine, Columbia College Chicago, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Northwestern University.
Mr. Howell believes in working one-to-one with students since he values a more direct, individuated teaching process. He says, “In Alexander's (his last mentee) case, my reward was in part how much he trusted my assessments of what he was doing and seeing his work develop and sharpen into the impressive video documentary it became.” Mr. Howell looks for students who can take rigorous critiques of their work and respond constructively.
When asked about the value of undergraduate research, he said, “To the extent that an undergraduate's research is self-generated and represents a special interest or passion or simply curiosity, it's invaluable -- every well-educated person has done at least a little self-teaching.”
Read more at: https://english.as.uky.edu/users/jdhowe3
Week 4: September 18, 2017- September 22, 2017
Dr. Yvonne Fondufe-Mittendorf - College of Medicine
As an assistant professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry, Dr. Fondufe-Mittendorf has mentored a total of six students, two of which were a part of UK’s SPIRIT program from Saudi Arabia this summer. She, like any outstanding mentor, is passionate about her research and assures her mentees are as well.
Dr. Fondufe-Mittendorf says, “I feel very blessed having students who come in not knowing anything about a molecular biology lab and by the end of their training, they have blossomed into scientists, asking pertinent questions about their project. I try to have an open door policy where students are not afraid to make mistakes and are allowed to be creative and hardworking.” Moving from Cameroon to Germany, Dr. Fondufe-Mittendorf herself participated in research. She accredits her devotion to her mentees to her first mentor, who explained lab procedures and equipment without making her feel foolish. “This is what I hope to pass on to the mentees that come into my lab - Science can be fun, if we have open discussions and not worry so much about our fears and mistakes.
My ultimate goal is to generate excitement in science,” she says. In her mentees, Dr. Fondufe-Mittendorf, looks for students who are driven and passionate. When asked about her experience with the UK Spirit program, Dr. Fondufe-Mittendorf said “I strive to ensure that everyone is welcome to my lab, especially minority students. I strive for the lab to have a collegial atmosphere. I have trained so far three female SPIRIT students and my hope is to instill in them the idea that they too can be good scientists, with the will and drive, nothing should stand in your way."
Read more at: https://biochemistry.med.uky.edu/users/ynfo222
Week 3: September 11, 2017- September 15, 2017
Dr. Mary A. Arthur – College of Agriculture
Dr. Arthur is a Professor of Forest Ecology with the College of Agriculture at UK. She is also Chair of the Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES) Steering Committee, Co-Director of the Greenhouse Living Learning Community and Co-Lead for the Urban Forest Initiative Working Group.
Her mentoring does not only impact her formal mentees, as she is always ready to help. When asked about how her role as a mentor affected her life, she said “Mentoring engages students and seeing them grow and expand their horizons is one of the most important and meaningful activities I do as a faculty member.” She loves to conduct research, write successful grant proposals, and publish articles. She added, “I am well aware that the true and most essential component of my legacy as a faculty member is the work I do mentoring students in all sorts of different roles.”
Generally, Dr. Arthur looks for students who are fully engaged intellectually, who are curious, hardworking, able to take direction, and demonstrate initiative. Dr. Arthur strongly believes that research has great value and is extremely necessary to help a student develop. Dr. Arthur says “I always tell students that while classes make up the intellectual backbone of their experience and learning in college, the value of research, extracurricular activities, and internships and jobs in their field of interest, are the activities that put the real flesh on the bone, rounding out their understanding of how knowledge is applied to real problems.”
Read more at: http://www2.ca.uky.edu/forestry/arthur.php
Week 2: September 4, 2017- September 8, 2017
Dr. Richard Milich - College of Arts & Sciences, Psychology
Dr. Richard Milich is Professor and Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Kentucky. Regarded internationally as one of the leading investigators in the field of ADHD, Dr. Milich has over 135 publications in this area. His research has addressed a variety of topics germane to the problems experienced by children with ADHD. Last year alone, he mentored 7 students!
Dr. Milich says “being a mentor is like being a parent, you guide the student through the many transitions of college, including helping them make choices about their life after college and then, when appropriate, helping them achieve these goals.” He believes research does not only include a better understanding of the research process but also being comfort in having research discussions with faculty and graduate students. Dr. Milich finds it rewarding to see students who work for several years with him maturing in their comfort and their ability to assume greater levels of responsibility.
As a mentee for Dr.Milich, you have to be both conscientious and meticulous as well as have experience with children. Often his students work on federally funded research projects, so there is a great premium placed on being responsible and reliable. He says “Participating in undergraduate research offers the student so much more than just a letter of recommendation.”
Read more at:https://psychology.as.uky.edu/users/milich
Week 1: August 28, 2017- September 1, 2017
Dr. Kevin Pearson – College of Medicine
As an assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Dr. Pearson has mentored over 15 students, including 4 of from Al-Faisal University in Riyadh as part of the UK SPIRIT program, a post-doctoral fellow, and a master’s degree student.
Dr. Pearson accredits his great mentoring reputation to his team. "Leryn Reynolds, Sara Tenlep, and Brittany do such a great job with the students’ preparation and oversight that I really try to lend my support in other ways—such as making sure they are doing the things that will make them successful in the future", he says.
His mentees are considered top priority; not only does he help them accelerate academically, but he also constantly guides them to reach their career-goals. "In my day to day interactions with them, I talk about their life-long career goals and advise them on how best to achieve those goals, even if that means spending time outside of the lab." Dr. Pearson views science as such a negative field, since failure rates are high, "because of this, I have learned to enjoy the successes of my undergraduate students more and more over the past several years.", he says.
In his mentees, Dr. Pearson hopes to see curiosity and excitement and believes "there are always faculty at UK that are looking for passionate students!" When asked about how UK SPIRIT students add to his lab's diversity, Dr. Pearson said "The Pearson laboratory has always been a very diverse place with members from around the country and world. However, we have enjoyed the participation of the medical students from Saudi Arabia as they are quite eager to learn and put their book smarts to the test in the laboratory."
Dr. Pearson continues to be an inspiration to his mentees. His work is greatly appreciated by his mentees as well as the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Read more at: https://med.uky.edu/users/kjpe222