Learning Through Research

CUR Fellows Award Recognizes Excellence in Undergraduate Research

February 24, 2016 08:00 AM
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Singer and Osborn
© Singer and CUR

Washington, D.C. - The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) will present the CUR Fellows Award to Dr. Jeffrey M. Osborn, dean of the School of Science at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), and Dr. Jill Singer, professor and director of the Office of Undergraduate Research at SUNY-Buffalo State. The awards will be presented at the 2016 CUR conference in June at the University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, www.cur.org/conferences_and_events/biennial2016/.

The biennial awards are presented to two individuals who have developed nationally-respected research programs involving undergraduate students. Each CUR Fellow’s institution is also awarded a Brian Andreen-Student Research Fellowship that goes to support the awardee’s undergraduate research colleagues at their respective institutions. "The CUR Fellows Award recognizes individuals who excel in teaching, scholarship, and mentoring of undergraduate students, and who provide leadership in the area of undergraduate research. The achievements of Dr. Singer and Dr. Osborn are very impressive—they have had a huge impact on undergraduate research both at their home institutions and at the national level. They truly exemplify the spirit of the CUR Fellows Award," affirmed Dr. Nadine Barlow, CUR Fellows Committee chair and professor and associate department chair, Northern Arizona University.  Adds CUR Executive Officer Dr. Elizabeth Ambos:  “The marvelous achievements of Jill Singer and Jeff Osborn to the undergraduate research movement model solutions to one of higher education’s deepest challenges: how to increase student, faculty, and institutional success, and build the quality of degrees our students receive.”

For more than 30 years, plant biologist Jeffrey Osborn has been deeply invested in broadening participation of all students and faculty in undergraduate research, with a focus on access and inclusion. The impact of his dedication can be felt on his campus and at a national level, and he has been active in both National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health grant-funded programs to expand undergraduate research programs and build research infrastructure capacity. His leadership at TCNJ has transformed the learning environment, weaving mentoring into the tenure and promotion process, attracting external funds, and creating an institutional culture centered around undergraduate research. The words of one colleague just scratch the surface of his impact: “he not only promotes undergraduate research as a high-impact, educational practice that makes a significant difference to student success, he epitomizes the ideal teacher-scholar who actively collaborates with undergraduates in research of high scientific merit and tangible professional outcomes."

Jill Singer has demonstrated a unique depth and breadth in contributions to the growth and improvement of undergraduate research. Instrumental in gaining funding to award hundreds of summer undergraduate research fellowships, student research projects, and travel stipends for students to present their work at professional conferences, she has also supported the work of faculty to transform more than 40 courses to involve research, scholarship, or creative activity. With all of her accomplishments, however, perhaps the most revealing of Singer’s impact is what students say: "Jill is our lighthouse, and the waters are calm while she is shining," "Her encouragement, unwavering support, and dedication to her students is second to none," and "have had the opportunity to work with her in the laboratory, in the field, as well as in the classroom---working under her guidance in these venues has made me a better person and scientist." A long-time member of CUR’s Geosciences Division, she has also been active in National Science Foundation projects to expand and assess undergraduate programs.