CUR’s New Chemistry Mentor Award to Honor RCSA’s Silvia Ronco

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) announce a new initiative to support research within the Chemical Sciences in honor of CUR’s past president and current RCSA Senior Program Director, Silvia Ronco.

The Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award, established by a gift from RCSA, will recognize tenure-track faculty members within ten years of their first faculty appointment who demonstrate success in the Chemical Sciences and whose mentoring practices have supported undergraduate research. It will allow a stipend of up to $2000 per year to each recognized awardee.

RCSA President and CEO Daniel Linzer said RCSA was proud to honor Ronco’s service as CUR president in 2020-2021, which follows past contributions to fellow RCSA employees such as Brian Andreen and Mike Doyle that have been made to CUR and for enhancing undergraduate participation in science research.

“Hands-on research experience can help undergraduates discover what it really means to be a scientist instead of just learning what other scientists have done,” Linzer said. “Coupled with the guidance of a good mentor, these experiences give students the opportunity to determine if they have an interest in, and aptitude for, scientific careers, and position them well for graduate school.  No matter what path they take in life, students involved in undergraduate research develop a much deeper appreciation for how science is done, how to frame questions about the unknown that can be addressed through experimentation and theory, and how to persevere through the inevitable challenges that they encounter.”

According to CUR’s executive officer, Lindsay Currie, “Silvia showed great leadership and strength during her year as CUR president, as well as friendship and understanding when the world turned upside down. Her thoughtfulness and abundance of knowledge towards the community was shown in many ways during her years of volunteer leadership at CUR. We are excited to have RCSA honor such an incredible person, and CUR member, with this award recognition and look forward to continuing this promotion of commitment to mentorship throughout the community.”

When asked her thoughts on this recognition, Silvia Ronco explained, “As an undergrad I felt valued and self-confident doing undergraduate research and being part of a dynamic research group. Without that opportunity, my career would have been very different. My mentor’s connections connected me with who became my postdoctoral mentor at the University of Notre Dame, the reason why I moved to the United States. As a faculty member, I truly enjoyed seeing the growth of undergraduate research mentees who sometimes struggled in the classroom but thrived in the research laboratory. I also enjoyed the opportunity of helping students follow their dreams, not necessarily connected with their undergraduate research projects but using the tools and experiences gained as researchers. As a program director for Research Corporation since 2003, I’m always in awe of the wonderful job the young faculty we support do with undergraduate students, not only making them feel like professionals but helping them develop a sense of belonging and purpose. It is an honor to combine both of these worlds into such an incredible opportunity and to be recognized through an award that I hope will continue to enhance undergraduate research mentorship.”

The call for applications for the 2022 Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award is now currently open with a deadline of March 31, 2022. The first award will be presented during a special recognition ceremony at the ConnectUR 2022 conference. 

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.

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.