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2020 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award winners announced

Thursday, May 07, 2020

LAWRENCE — The Center for Undergraduate Research has announced the winners of two annual awards given to recognize undergraduate research mentors who make a difference in the lives of their students at the University of Kansas.

Jennifer Gleason, associate professor in ecology & evolutionary biology, is the 2020 recipient of the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Gleason has mentored dozens of students over her time at KU, supporting them as they developed their research skills, encouraging them to share their research results and guiding them as they navigate their career path after they leave the university. Gleason’s efforts to promote undergraduate research have gone beyond the traditional one-on-one model in her lab, seeking to broaden the pool of students who have the opportunity to do research. She has redesigned several courses to include authentic research projects, worked with others in her department to incorporate research skills into the curriculum and spearheaded a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program through the National Science Foundation that brought students from underrepresented groups to KU’s campus for summer research experiences. This award is named after K. Barbara Schowen, professor emeritus of chemistry, whose efforts to promote undergraduate research at KU led to the development of the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Gleason will receive $1,000.

Kathryn Rhine, associate professor of geography & atmospheric science and African & African-American studies, received honorable mention for this award.

Romana Jarosova, postdoctoral researcher in chemistry, is the 2020 recipient of the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Jarosova’s work with undergraduates stands out for her efforts to make sure that students truly understand the logic of research and are involved as collaborators on all stages of the research process. This award was started in 2014 at the request of undergraduate students who wanted to recognize the important role that graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and academic staff play in mentoring undergraduate researchers at KU.  Jarosova will also receive $1,000.

“At this time when so much is in flux, the work that these mentors do truly exemplifies the difference that a KU education makes for our students,” said Alison Olcott, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research and associate professor in geology. “Being a student at a research-intensive university opens up a world of opportunities for undergraduate students, and these mentors proactively bring students into their research and facilitate their development as researchers. Now more than ever, the work involved with building up the next generation of scholars is a critical part of KU’s contribution to society.”

Both mentor awards are coordinated through KU’s Center for Undergraduate Research.  Mentors were nominated through a two-part process: students, faculty, or staff submitted recommendations for a mentor to be considered for the award, then home departments and supervisors submitted full application packets. The full list of 2020 mentor award nominees can be found on the Online Undergraduate Research Symposium website.


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