RIT's Suzanne O'Handley Selected as 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee

Suzanne O'Handley, RIT

Suzanne O’Handley, associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Materials Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), has been selected as the 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee. The award, which consists of a plaque and $5000 for the awardee’s research program and/or undergraduate researchers, will be presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Kennesaw State University in April.

Selected from 10 finalists, O’Handley was recognized for her considerable achievements as a dynamic scholar, teacher, and mentor to numerous undergraduates who have garnered grants, fellowships, admission to distinguished graduate and professional programs, publication and presentation opportunities for their research, and success in the workplace. O’Handley earned her BS in chemistry cum laude from Cook College, Rutgers University, and her PhD in biophysical chemistry from University of Rochester. With previous positions at University at Albany-SUNY, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and University of Richmond, she has administered major grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other scientific organizations. Her honors include the RIT COS Outstanding Mentoring Award.

Said John Mateja, president of the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, “Dr. O’Handley’s outstanding record mentoring six students who were named Goldwater Scholars, her 15 years of service as Rochester Institute of Technology’s Goldwater campus representative, and her involvement of 65 undergraduates in research in her laboratory made her the consensus choice of the CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award selection committee for the 2019 award.” Mateja also noted that, prior to O’Handley assuming the campus representative position at RIT, the institution had one Goldwater Scholar and no honorable mentions. Under O’Handley’s leadership, RIT has had 28 Goldwater Scholars and seven honorable mentions. Mateja sees substantial effects from O’Handley’s mentoring for “RIT students, many of whom who went on to attain advanced degrees; for RIT’s academic program; and for the nation, because of the number of her students now pursuing research careers in the sciences.”

Stated CUR Executive Officer Elizabeth L. Ambos, “Dr. O’Handley’s multi-decade commitment to and passion for mentoring undergraduate researchers at RIT has resulted in tremendous success for her students and impressive research productivity, as measured by significant publications and grant acquisitions.”

Said RIT’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Granberg, “Dr. Suzanne O’Handley is an exceptional leader and mentor, and I’m thrilled that she’s the recipient of the 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award. Under Dr. O’Handley’s guidance, she has encouraged scholars to find new and meaningful ways to move the world forward. Her commitment to excellence has made a positive impact on our university. At RIT, we pride ourselves on being an incubator for the exceptional and the fruits of Dr. O’Handley’s mentoring are truly an example of that.”

Said O’Handley, “It is such an honor to be recognized for the two things that have been most important to me in my career: mentoring of my undergraduate (and master’s) research students, and initiating and running the RIT Goldwater Scholars program. I hope to use this recognition to continue to advocate for undergraduate research, mentoring, and fellowships. Sharing my excitement about science, exploration, and discovery, and helping students take advantage of opportunities to reach their full potential have been a major focus of my career.”

Past recipients of the CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award include Francis Connolly (University of Notre Dame), the late Bruce Jackson (Mass Bay Community College), Carol Parish (University of Richmond), David Peak (Utah State University), and Julio Ramirez (Davidson College).


Council on Undergraduate Research: 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 13,000 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.

Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation: By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is helping to ensure that the United States is producing the number of highly qualified professionals needed by the nation in these critical fields.

Rochester Institute of Technology: Rochester Institute of Technology is home to leading creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers. Founded in 1829, RIT enrolls about 19,000 students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, making it among the largest private universities in the United States. The university is internationally recognized and ranked for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. RIT also offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Global partnerships include campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo.


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