CUR Math/CS Division Selects 2019 Faculty Mentor Awardees

HarrisRiehlBerenhaut(from left: Harris, Riehl, Berenhaut)



The CUR Mathematics and Computer Sciences Division has announced the recipients of its 2019 Faculty Mentor Award, which recognizes outstanding mentoring of undergraduate researchers:

A Mexican American, Harris is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Williams College in Williamstown, MA. She received her BS from Marquette University and her MS and PhD in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She was a Davies Fellow of the National Research Council with an dual appointment at the United States Military Academy and the Army Research Lab. Her research interests are in algebraic combinatorics, graph theory, and number theory. Since 2013, she has mentored six undergraduate researchers at West Point, 21 at Williams College, and 8 at SUNY Geneseo. She also co-mentored five students from Youngstown State University and one student from Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. This work has resulted in 14 publications coauthored with students. Harris works to develop learning communities that reinforce students’ self-identity as scientists, in particular for women, underrepresented students, and those who have not had many prior positive mathematical experiences.

Riehl is an associate professor of mathematics at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, IN, and was formerly an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She earned her bachelor's degree at MIT and PhD at UC San Diego, and has research interests in discrete mathematics and biomathematics. Her specialties include prediction of RNA secondary structures, pattern avoidance in mathematical structures, and the use of generating functions. Riehl has a strong record of collaboration with undergraduates, mentoring more than 35 students who have regularly given talks in national and international venues. Riehl and her students have jointly authored 13 papers, including many in top disciplinary journals. A number of these projects involved collaboration of the students with other professional researchers from around the country and abroad. Riehl also garnered significant grant funding as co-principal investigator on a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation titled “PUR: Partnership for Undergraduate Research: Enhancing the Undergraduate Curriculum.” Riehl believes in the transformative power of faculty-student mentoring relationships, not just professionally but personally as well, as she has experienced it herself.

Berenhaut is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. He holds BA and MSc degrees from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Georgia, in Athens, GA. His research interests are broadly focused on areas related to applied probability, discrete dynamics, network science, convergence rates, mathematical inequalities, and discrete structures. Influenced heavily by his interactions with valuable mentors during his years as a student, he took the opportunity to begin working closely with students. His first manuscripts coauthored with students appeared in 2005, and, since then, he has published 22 papers with undergraduate coauthors. His students have presented at conferences in Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Spain, and the United States. In 2007, with support from Wake Forest, he founded Involve, A Journal of Mathematics, which highlights the results of quality collaborations between faculty and students at all levels and requires a minimum of one-third student authorship. The journal has published more than 50 issues and more than 500 papers.


The Council on Undergraduate Research supports faculty development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. More than 700 institutions and more than 10,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.


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