2022 Fellows Awardees

John Barthell (UCO), Sunghee Lee (Iona) Honored as 2022 CUR Fellows

John Barthell (University of Central Oklahoma) and Sunghee Lee (Iona College) are the latest Fellows of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) to be honored for their leadership and service as role models for those involved in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities. Every two years, CUR Fellows Awards recognize two CUR members who have facilitated undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities at their institution through mentorship and demonstrated leadership activities. Awardees receive a CUR lifetime membership; a plaque; and a Brian Andreen-CUR Student Research Fellowship to support undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activities on their campus. Barthell and Lee will be celebrated during Undergraduate Research Week in a virtual celebration on Thursday, April 21, 2022.

“Drs. Barthell and Lee provide inspiration to all who participate in the important work of undergraduate research,” said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer. “They truly exemplify the spirit of leaders and mentors and have shown dedication to spreading undergraduate research at their home institutions as well as at the national level.”

Dr. John F. Barthell is currently a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (“rotator”) program, and previously served as the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma from 2013-2020. Barthell is an accomplished scholar and former professor who, throughout his 25 years at UCO, advanced the recognition of undergraduate research efforts. From 2006 until 2019, Barthell has been the Principal Investigator of an NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program based in the Republic of Turkey and Greece. In 2019, this program could claim several distinctions, including a diverse background of students, 70% of which are from underrepresented minority groups; produced 141 presentations; over 50% of the student participants came from institutions that would not be considered research intensive (including regional universities and community colleges); and 67% of underrepresented minority student participants from this program finished their undergraduate degrees and have gone to post-graduate educational programs.

Barthell’s long term commitment to students’ careers is shown through his avid work in writing hundreds of reference letters, creating momentum for their award achievements, and coauthoring 21 articles and 126 presentations with students dating back to 1995. Barthell has been recognized with various grants and awards, but he is most proud of receiving the Herbert S. Dordick Outstanding Mentor Award which was based on a nomination by one of his mentored students. Before leaving UCO, Barthell helped to restructure the Office of Research and Grants into what is now called the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and an independent unit called the Office of High-Impact Practices that focuses solely on undergraduate research. Among many other compelling accomplishments, Barthell has been involved with the CUR state Systems/Consortia and CUR Transformations NSF-funded grants. He also has served as a facilitator or consultant at 27 separate CUR-sponsored events, is currently in his fourth term as a CUR Councilor for the at-large division of CUR, and a general representative to the CUR Executive Board.

“I am incredibly grateful for this award from CUR and all that it reflects about the importance of student-centered education. Since my first experience at a CUR Institute nearly twenty years ago, I have had an unending appreciation for this organization and the many professionals who contribute to it. Being named a CUR Fellow represents the honor of my career because of the many colleagues and former students who recognized me with it,” said Barthell. “I therefore dedicate this award to all of them without whom my career in teaching, scholarship, and administration would not have been nearly as fulfilling for me nor as impactful on students.”  

Said Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, president of UCO, “John Barthell is a tireless advocate for the value of undergraduate research. He nurtures curiosity, encourages discovery, and fosters a love of lifelong learning in students. This recognition by the Council for Undergraduate Research is testament to his lifetime of dedication to both students and undergraduate research.”

A mentor to over 94 undergraduates, a recipient of numerous research and education grants including NSF-funded Research in Undergraduate Institution (RUI), Dr. Sunghee Lee is the Iona College Board of Trustees Endowed Professor in Science, and a professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department. Founder of the Iona Scholars Day (ISD) where scholarship and creative activities of students, mentored by faculty members, are shared with the college and community at large, Lee not only gave life to undergraduate research at Iona College but facilitated active participation from all corners of the campus, cultivating high quality undergraduate education through faculty-students scholarship and engaged learning experience. Lee established a research group called Project Symphony in which undergraduate students learn team cooperation, critical reasoning, problem solving, and planning skills through interdisciplinary scientific research experience. As of January 2022, Lee celebrated her students’ latest achievement of publishing a peer-reviewed education article entitled, Structural Determination of Model Phospholipid Membranes by Raman Spectroscopy: Laboratory Experiment, appearing in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, a publication of Wiley.

Lee has published 41 publications with over 70 Iona student coauthors and presented over 300 conference presentations with all student coauthors. Through nearly two decades of scientific research with undergraduates, over 75% of her mentored students have progressed to advanced degrees in Science, contributing to diverse sectors of academia and industry as future leaders. Lee has made significant inroads in making Iona’s chemistry department attain compounded successes, including acceptance from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for its BS in Chemistry Program; increasing enrollment in the chemistry/biochemistry majors by 500%; establishing two new combined degree programs; and promoting high-quality undergraduate curricula and student-faculty collaborative research with increased extramural funding. Lee received many prestigious honors and awards including The Rising Star Award by ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC), Distinguished Scientist Award by NY ACS, and recognized by her students and fellow faculty including Br. Arthur Loftus Faculty Award for Outstanding Student Research and most recently Senior Faculty Award in 2020. Lee has demonstrated her aptitude for leadership in her department, campus-wide, and to the broader community. She serves as a member of the ACS Committee on Professional Training (CPT). She is a member of the chemistry division within CUR and served two-terms as a councilor of the CUR chemistry division.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive such a significant award and I want to share this recognition with all my students past and present who made this recognition possible. Receiving this recognition from CUR is in every way a testament to the power of undergraduate research, and especially, to my students, without whom I would not be here today,” said Lee. “Their dedication to science truly propels me, and we act to motivate each other to extend the boundaries of what is known in Chemistry.”

Said Seamus Carey, Ph.D., president of Iona College, “It is my honor to congratulate Dr. Lee on this prestigious award. Dr. Lee consistently goes above and beyond in her dedication to both Iona and our students. It shows not only in the results that emanate from her lab, but also in the passion that her students bring to their work and their lives beyond the classroom. I know the best is still to come as we continue to elevate the Iona experience.”

Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity. Among the many activities and networking opportunities that CUR provides, the organization also offers support for the professional growth of faculty and administrators through expert-designed institutes, conferences, and a wide-range of volunteer positions. The CUR community, made up of nearly 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, continues to provide a platform for discussion and other resources related to mentoring, connecting, and creating relationships centered around undergraduate research. CUR’s advocacy efforts are also a large portion of its work as they strive to strengthen support for undergraduate research. Its continued growth in connections with representatives, private foundations, government agencies, and campuses world-wide provides value to its members and gives voice to undergraduate research. CUR is committed to inclusivity and diversity in all of its activities and our community.

CUR focuses on giving a voice to undergraduate research with learning through doing. It provides connections to a multitude of campuses and government agencies, all while promoting networking and professional growth to its community.

Founded in 1940, Iona College is a master's-granting private, Catholic, coeducational institution of learning in the tradition of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. Iona's 45-acre New Rochelle campus and 28-acre Bronxville campus are just 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. With a total enrollment of nearly 4,000 students and an alumni base of over 50,000 around the world, Iona is a diverse community of learners and scholars dedicated to academic excellence and the values of justice, peace and service. Iona is highly accredited, offering undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, science, and business administration, as well as Master of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees and numerous advanced certificate programs. Iona’s LaPenta School of Business is accredited by AACSB International, a prestigious recognition awarded to just five percent of business schools worldwide. The Princeton Review recognized Iona’s on-campus MBA program as a “Best Business School for 2021.” Iona College also recently launched a new, fully online MBA program for even greater flexibility. In July 2021, Iona College and NewYork-Presbyterian announced the establishment of the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences, to be principally located on the College’s new campus at 171 White Plains Road, Bronxville, N.Y. Supported by a $20 million gift from NewYork-Presbyterian, the NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences is expected to offer a new vision for collaborative health care education, modern workforce development, and community care.

With strong connections throughout the Oklahoma City metro, the University of Central Oklahoma is dedicated to developing in students the confidence to succeed through transformative learning experiences. Central prides itself as a smart investment for success, preparing future leaders in an opportunity-rich environment, with access to more than 200 student organizations and the internship, employment, entertainment and cultural offerings of the rapidly growing Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Founded in 1890 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Central connects its nearly 14,000 students to unmatched value found in 119 undergraduate areas of study and 80 graduate programs from its main campus in Edmond and facilities throughout the metro area.