CUR Engineering Division Announces 2021 Mentoring Awardees, Student Video Competition Winners

The CUR Engineering Division announces the 2021 recipients of its Mentoring Awards and winners of its Student Video Competition. The Mentoring Awards recognize mentors who have influenced undergraduate research through direct mentoring of individuals or groups of undergraduate students in engineering research. The video competition is designed to highlight faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects in engineering.

Recipient, Early-Career Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

Lesley W. Chow, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Lehigh University, earned a BS in materials science and engineering from the University of Florida and a PhD in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University and conducted postdoctoral work at Imperial College London. Her research interests focus on the design of novel biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Since she joined the department in 2015, she has mentored more than 30 undergraduates, including more than 20 female students, 6 students from underrepresented groups, and 9 students who have enrolled in advanced degree programs. In Dr. Chow’s mentoring approach, she promotes a collaborative scientific environment and pairs undergraduate researchers with graduate students to provide a multi-mentor model for undergraduates and build mentoring skills in graduate students.

Recipient, Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

Eda Yildirim-Ayan, associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering and undergraduate program director at the University of Toledo, earned a BS in mechanical engineering at Ege University (Turkey), an MS in mechanical engineering at Izmir Institute of Technology (Turkey), and a PhD in mechanical engineering at Drexel University. Her research centers on the interface among biomimetic design, biomanufacturing, cellular processes, biomaterial sciences, biophysics, and mechanobiology. Promoting a welcoming environment for diverse students, she has mentored more than 25 undergraduates and coauthored 9 peer-reviewed journal articles with undergraduates. Dr. Yildirim-Ayan has established course-based undergraduate research experiences as well as a two-semester Freshman Design course to provide preparation and research projects involving ideation and entrepreneurship for students early in their college career.

Winners, Student Video Competition (View the judging criteria. See the videos)

Ana Isabel Boyd (Technological University of Panama; mentor: Francisco Grajales), “Reuse of Plastic in Geogrid for Unpaved Roads”

Austin Brant (Georgia Southern University; mentor Valentin Soloiu), “Jet Engine Emissions and Vapor Contrail Reduction through Increased Combustion Efficiency with the Aim to Mitigate the Greenhouse Effect and Greenhouse Gases Emissions”

Sounak Chakrabarti (Virginia Tech; mentor: Rolf Mueller), “Merging Soft-Robotics with Deep Learning in Replicating the Biosonar-Sensing Capabilities of Bats”

James O’Hara (Georgia Southern University; mentor: Valentin Soloiu), “Thermoelectric Effect Augmented Solar Power Generation for Orbital Applications”

Emilee Rickabaugh (Utah State University; mentor Elizabeth Vargis), “Using Hagfish Proteins to Simulate Bruch’s Membrane in the Subretinal Tissue”

Maryam Siddique (California State University, Sacramento; mentor: Sayonita Ghosh Hajra), “Counting the Spanning Trees”

Cody Watson (University of Colorado Boulder; mentors: Torin ClarkAllie Anderson), “Astronaut Performance Enhancement through Auditory and Vestibular White Noise”

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.