CUR Names Haverford’s Charkoudian First Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Awardee

Portrait of Lou Charkoudian '03, Associate Professor of Chemistry. Photo by Patrick Montero

Dr. Louise (Lou) Charkoudian, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, has been selected as the first recipient for the Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award. This award, established in February 2022 by a gift from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), is in honor of CUR’s past president and current RCSA Senior Program Director, Silvia Ronco. The Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award recognizes a tenure-track faculty member within ten years of their first faculty appointment who demonstrate success in Chemical Sciences and whose mentoring practices have supported undergraduate research.

“This award holds a special place in my heart because it aligns so closely with my values. I work hard to create an inclusive undergraduate training environment in which we can let our authentic selves shine, chase down big dreams, lean on one another for support, and celebrate wins big and small. It honestly feels like a dream come true to receive recognition for work that fuels me with so much joy and purpose,” explains Dr. Lou Charkoudian.

Charkoudian, who received her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at Haverford College, doctorate at Duke University, and postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, came to work at Haverford because she saw the structures and support needed to build a high-level, undergraduate-driven research program. Charkoudian is passionate about integrating original research opportunities for undergraduates into the classroom, exploring how interpersonal factors can be leveraged to build more inclusive and accessible STEM courses and training opportunities, and developing symbiotic community engagement activities. Her mentoring approach incorporated original research opportunities into the lecture and laboratory classes at all levels. She believes that participation, learning how to solve problems, be a productive team member, troubleshoot and think critically, and communicate across disciplines is transformative for all students, regardless of their major or year. She is also a co-founder of FLAMEnet, a nationwide network of STEM instructors, education researchers, and psychologists who study how interpersonal frameworks can be leveraged to support undergraduate STEM education. Charkoudian has mentored 94 student presentations, written 324 unique students’ letters of recommendations to support them in summer programs, fellowships, or post-graduation opportunities, and has written over 28 publications with 104 Haverford College undergraduate co-authors.

Wendy Raymond, President of Haverford College says, “Lou leans into discovery, co-creating, failure, leadership, and taking smart risks. Lou came full circle at Haverford, where she consistently pays it forward as an extraordinary mentor, scientist, and teacher. She began her impressive career in organic biological chemistry with the guidance of Haverford faculty. Now, every day in classrooms, labs, hallways, her office, and on social media, Lou shares her great joy and passion for research with her own Haverford students, as they successfully and collaboratively innovate through Lou’s high-impact, inclusive mentoring.”

Said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer, “Dr. Lou Charkoudian’s innovative mentoring work and drive to the success of undergraduate research in the chemical sciences has inspired undergraduate researchers and faculty members alike. Her dedication to encouraging success to her students is awe inspiring. I am excited for Dr. Charkoudian to represent the first awardee of such a distinguished and new honor.”

Charkoudian will be recognized at CUR’s upcoming June conference, ConnectUR. You can explore more of her work through her lab website.

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.

One of America’s leading liberal arts colleges, Haverford College offers a rigorous academic program to a close-knit community of students. The campus is located just outside Philadelphia on a serene campus that is a nationally recognized arboretum. Founded in 1833, Haverford is the oldest institution of higher education in North America with Quaker roots and is today a non-sectarian and highly diverse institution. Through its Honor Code, Haverford retains many of the guiding principles of its founders, such as emphasis on community and respect for individual conscience. Haverford’s students enjoy a 9-to-1 student-faculty ratio and come from independent and public schools across the United States and around the world.

Research Corporation for Science Advancement, founded in 1912, is a private foundation that funds early stage, high-potential basic research in the physical sciences (astronomy, chemistry, physics, and related fields) at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.