Learning Through Research

Connect with us

Find us on:


2016 Biology Division Mentor Awards

The Biology Division of CUR would like to honor Biology Mentors for their long-term efforts in supervising undergraduate research (UGR) students.  Individuals may be nominated by CUR Institutional or Institutional-Enhanced members, or individual CUR members of the Biology Division.  Faculty mentoring interdisciplinary projects are eligible as long as those projects involve a major biological component.

For information on nomination procedures and requirements, please see information below or go to the CUR Biology Division website https://www.cur.org/governance/divisions/biology_mentor_awards/. Applications/Nominations must be submitted by email in their entirety in a single PDF file by 5:00 pm (PDT), Monday, October 17, 2016, to Shere Byrd at byrd_s@fortlewis.edu.

Applications can be submitted for one of the following three categories:

  1. Early Career: Scientists with 1-9 years of experience mentoring undergraduate researchers. While this generally corresponds to Assistant Professors, the committee recognizes that many mentors are not in tenure track positions and that some scientists begin significant undergraduate research mentoring even before they obtain a tenure track position.
  2. Mid Career: Scientists with 10-19 years of experience mentoring undergraduate researchers.
  3. Mature Career: Scientists with greater than 19 years of experience mentoring undergraduate researchers.

Application requirements:

  1. Institutional profile survey (CUR website listed above)
  2. Nomination Letter – a nomination letter (3 page limit) that can speak first-hand about the nominee’s mentoring of UGR students. In their letter we suggest that the nominator explain 1) the nominee’s personal commitment to mentoring, and 2) how the nominee individualizes mentoring strategies to fit student needs and limitations.   Additional information that gives more detailed insight into the nominee’s mentoring philosophy and style is welcome. 
  3. Nominee CV tailored to showcase mentoring activities – should provide information regarding cumulative mentoring activities involving UGR students (two page limit).  Please indicate all publications and presentations with undergraduate co-authors.
  4. Student Letters – Two recommendation letters from UGR students who were mentored by the nominee within the past two years (two page limit for each letter).  In their letter we ask that students explain 1) how their mentor showed commitment to helping them achieve in areas of their life that mean the most to them (i.e. academic, career, or personal growth); and 2) how their mentor modeled positive behaviors and successful performance.  Additional information that gives more detailed insight into the mentor’s work on behalf of the student is welcome.

The CUR Biology Councilors will review the completed applications and will choose this year’s winners.  The winning mentors will be notified in late October or early November.  We look forward to reading the application letters and learning about the great opportunities and experiences undergraduate students are having across the nation.  If you have any questions regarding the application process, contact Dr. Shere Byrd at byrd_s@fortlewis.edu

2015 Award Winners

Dr. Sara O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Biology at Radford University in Radford, VA was selected as the outstanding early-career mentor in the CUR Biology division for 2015.  Dr. O’Brien received her doctorate in Zoology from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA in 2009, and began working with undergraduates first at Marion University and then Radford University.  In her time as an assistant professor, Dr. O’Brien has mentored 34 students, and supported numerous student presentations at local, regional, and national meetings.  One of her mentees received special recognition for their research at the Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology meetings, and she has manuscripts in review and preparation with student co-authors.  One student nominator says that Dr. O’Brien “always wanted what I wanted for myself (albeit a wiser version)”, and that Dr. O’Brien “helped me push through my own self-doubt and thoughts that I would never be smart enough to accomplish what I have.”  Her colleagues nominated her because “Mentoring undergraduates is how Sara thinks about her work as a professional.”

Dr. Olav Rueppell, Professor of Biology at University of North Carolina, Greensboro was selected as the outstanding mid-career outstanding mentor for 2015.  Dr. Rueppell received his doctoral training at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and did post-doctoral training at the University of Regensburg, Germany as well as in the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis.  Since his academic appointment at the UNC Greensboro in 2003, Dr. Rueppell has mentored over 50 undergraduates in his work on honey bees, with five of his mentees receiving excellence awards.  His student researchers have given (or co-authored) more than 100 presentations at local, regional, national and international conferences, and he has published 73 papers with undergraduate co-authors. His students describe him as “passionate about science and his students” and reflect on “his commitment to inspiring, challenging, and cultivating students to become well-rounded, curious, and successful scientists.”   Colleagues describe his mentoring as focusing “on the individual student with his/her interests and qualifications” in mind.  


Dr. Benedict Kolber, Assistant Professor of Biology at Duquesne University in Pittsburg, PA received an honorable mention as an early-career mentor.  Dr. Kolber received his doctoral degree in 2008 from Washington University in St. Louis, MO.  Dr. Kolber has mentored 18 student researchers, many who have gone on to graduate school and professional programs, and has published with undergraduate co-authors in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience.  Dr. Kolber is described as displaying “persistence and commitment in everything that he takes up”, keeping “a positive perspective towards all outcomes.” 

Dr. Julie Korb, Professor of Biology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado received an honorable mention as a mid-career mentor.  Dr. Korb received her PhD at the University of Northern Arizona in Forest Science, Ecosystem Science and Management.  Since her appointment in 2002, Dr. Korb as directed over 70 student independent research projects which has resulted in 42 student presentations at regional or national conferences. She has published 7 peer-reviewed articles with undergraduate co-authors, and is described as inspiring students “to be better biologists and, more importantly, better people.” 


< Back to Home Page | < Back to News Page