LAWRENCE — Two University of Kansas faculty members with distinguished records of undergraduate mentoring, Cima Katz and Adrian Melott, received the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award on Saturday, April 27, at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The award winners were selected from a list of 14 faculty members who were nominated through their home departments (the full list can be found here).
The awards were presented by Holly Storkel, associate professor in speech-language-hearing and faculty fellow with the Center for Undergraduate Research, and Sara Rosen, senior vice provost for academic affairs. In her remarks, Rosen said, “We recognize these efforts not to highlight an exception, but rather to set for ourselves a standard of excellence … a standard of mentoring that we all should aspire to follow.”
Katz is a professor in the Department of Visual Art. Her department’s nomination materials highlighted not only Katz’s influential role in mentoring students individually, but also her commitment to promoting a culture of undergraduate scholarship within the department. One faculty colleague wrote, “Professor Katz has had a longstanding and clear commitment to mentoring students in the Department of Visual Art. She maintains contact with students after they graduate and exceeds the bounds of involvement at KU.”
Melott is a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. His department’s nomination materials noted the extraordinary success that his students have had following their undergraduate research experiences. One faculty colleague wrote, “Professor Melott’s success with working with undergraduates is in his skill at developing well-defined projects that are likely to lead to a conference presentation or paper. The student becomes a key contributor to the intellectual development of the project and becomes much more than just a laboratory helper.”
Two nominees were recognized for honorable mention. The first was Cheryl Lester, associate professor in English and American studies. Lester’s student wrote, “The important thing about Cheryl’s process is it empowers the student to envision the vastness of their capabilities (and also their limits) in advance, creating an atmosphere where the student feels in control of their research, rather than feeling that they must satisfy the professor to get a good grade.” The second honorable mention went to Paula Fite, assistant professor in clinical child psychology and applied behavioral sciences. Fite’s student wrote, “I attribute much of my success as an undergraduate researcher to my association with Dr. Fite. Without her support, guidance and encouragement, I would not be where I am today.”
The K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award honors the contribution of outstanding undergraduate research mentors to their students' development and to their own discipline. The award is named after longtime KU professor of chemistry K. Barbara Schowen, who promoted undergraduate research throughout her career. The award is administered through KU’s Center for Undergraduate Research, and it comes with a $1,000 award.