Mentor Awards

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement is keenly aware of how much time and energy our faculty contribute to undergraduate research at FSU, and we are glad to be able to recognize that hard work and dedication. In addition to the Honors Thesis Mentor Awards made available by the University Honors Program, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement offers one Undergraduate Research Mentor Award each year reserved for a faculty research mentor participating in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). The $2,000 award is funded by the FSU Student Foundation and presented at the annual FSU faculty awards dinner.

One graduate student/postdoctoral researcher is also selected for a $500 annual award for recognition of excellence in undergraduate research mentoring.

In order to be eligible to receive the Undergraduate Research Mentor award mentors must have signed the UROP research assistantship contract with the nominating student.

Winners of the award are ineligible for nomination for three years following the receipt of the award.

The Undergraduate Faculty Research Mentor Award for 2020 was presented to Dr. Elizabeth Coggeshall for mentoring UROP student Luis Sanchez in research about modern language, Italian, and Dante Alighieri.


Dr. Elizabeth Coggeshall
"Close mentorship of undergraduate students in the fields of the humanities is essential, primarily because students arrive at college with little to no idea – not even a fictional one – of what professional humanities research actually entails and how collaborative it can be. I find that many students begin their college careers with a deep-rooted passion for the humanities, but have only a vague notion of what it means to do the work on a professional level.

In my role as a UROP mentor, I focus on the transferable skills that can be acquired through humanities data collection, fostering curiosity, rigor, and clarity of expression. I know that few undergraduate students who choose to collaborate with me on my project On the Resonance of Dante’s works in Contemporary Culture will go on to become scholars of medieval Italian literature, so I encourage students from the earliest stages to chart their own path within the landscape of the work that we do.The data that we collect in our archive vary greatly across different genres, media formats, content areas, and geographical provenances. I work closely with my UROP students to locate materials that most stimulate their curiosity, and then I encourage them to gravitate further toward those items for their independent research and creative projects. In doing so, I actively foster each student’s sense of ownership over the questions they ask and the ideas they produce."

—Dr. Elizabeth Coggeshall, from her research statement (Pictured with her nominating student, Luis Sanchez)

“Though teaching classes, writing books, and raising a child, Professor Elizabeth Coggeshall has dedicated the time to be an outstanding research mentor to me and others. Through her expertise and warmth, she has created lovers of Dante Alighieri and the Italian language out of her students. Being a young scholar, she knows how to effectively communicate with her mentees, and sincerely empathizes with the trials that undergraduate researchers undergo. She has supported me in my endeavors, in giving great feedback on my work, and in my best interest, has directed my attention toward many calls-for-papers and undergraduate journals. When she was sick with the flu, she still found the time to respond to my emails and even ask how I was getting along. Professor Coggeshall has talked me through personal problems, checked on me during my first conference out of state, and continues to insist on buying the coffee in each and every one of our meetings. She’s selfless, indefatigable, and so humble as to prefer my calling her 'Beth'."

—Luis Sanchez, UROP student 2019-2020, from his nomination letter

The Post-Doc Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for 2020 was presented to Dr. Lorenzo Ruffoni. Dr. Ruffoni mentored UROP student Miguel Barquinero in mathematics beyond proofs and theory.


Dr. Lorenzo Ruffoni

"As a first-generation college student, I am deeply aware of the fact I can be a researcher today mainly thanks to the amazing mentors who have guided and inspired me through school and college. This is a debt that I am very excited to pay back by mentoring undergraduate students, initiating new minds to the pleasures of research.

My area of research is Pure Mathematics; the problems we are interested in are abstract, not quite motivated by applications or concrete problems, but rather by aesthetic taste: we choose problems because members of the mathematical community are fascinated by them. Finding other people with whom to work on a problem is somehow similar to finding friends who agree to try my favorite restaurant. As with colleagues, so with students, with one major difference: students are not expected to have a refined culinary taste, nor even to know how to use utensils. When mentoring undergraduate students, my main objective is helping them to gain technical knowledge so they can transition from the status of student to that of collaborator. It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever tried to do. When it happens, my research gets a scientific boost too, as an inexperienced collaborator is an unbiased collaborator, able to bring a fresh point of view to the project."

—Dr. Lorenzo Ruffoni, from his research statement

"At the start of my first semester in UROP, I knew nothing more than just the theory, Dr. Ruffoni additionally introduced me to the world of formal mathematics. It is vastly apart from the classroom mathematics with which most students are familiar. The proofs must explain everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. He taught me how to create abstracts for a variety of audiences, from the randomness of the UROP Symposium to the quite informed and knowledgeable audience of mathematics conferences. At the start of my first semester, I knew nothing  about Group Theory or Abstract Algebra, much less Right Angled Artin Groups. It is a testament to Dr. Ruffoni's guidance and mentorship capabilities that I was able to go from such a position to coauthoring what will likely be peer reviewed paper, publishable to an official journal."

—Miguel Barquinero, UROP student 2019-2020, from his nomination letter

The Graduate Student Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for 2020 was presented to Katherine Musacchio Schafer. Katherine Musacchio Schafer mentored Gabriela Herrerias and Summer Grace Fulcher in researching meta analysis on the risk and preventive factors of veteran suicide.


Katherine Musacchio Schafer

"Imagine meeting over a dozen undergraduate students, all of whom excitedly and emphatically want to collaborate with you. Imagine their eagerness to contribute, so many good ideas, and obvious potential for academic success. Now imagine the impossible task of choosing just two. Choosing two who will be smart, quick, efficient workers. Choosing two who will happily meet with you until the project is done. And most importantly, choosing two who will be kind, lighthearted, and a joy to work with. As a Undergraduate Research Opportunity Mentor that was my task.

Working with Gabrielle Herrerias and Summer Fulcher is one of the greatest joys during my time as a Florida State University graduate student. They challenge me, even by their mere presence, to conduct strong and bold academic research. I am immensely grateful for our time together.

I often consider myself lucky to be working with such strong UROP researchers. I routinely ponder my good fortune in working with them. I wonder if working with such competent and kind students is good luck, or if there is something more. Will I be able, as I continue my academic career, replicate this success and continue to work with strong upcoming scientific researchers? Being a scientist, I keep a running list as to some hypotheses that led me to working with Gabrielle and Summer. This is a “living document” that I am sure will over time, as I learn who I am as a mentor. But this is a good start, and I hope to continue the good fortune of wonderful mentoring in the future."

—Katherine Musacchio Schafer, from her research statement

"My research mentor Katherine Musacchio Schafer is truly one of the best mentors I have had to this day. As a first time student in the UROP program, the first few weeks in the program could be quite nerve racking as you embrace yourself for the weeks of interviews and meetings with research mentors ahead. Katherine was in the process of conducting a meta analysis on the risk and preventive factors of veteran suicide. With ease I responded that my grandfather was a veteran and I know plenty of others who are as well and the topic had resonated with me. She could see the genuineness in my answer and was really astonished. Katherine later contacted me asking if I would be willing to be a part of her research team and at that moment it was an offer I could not refuse."

—Gabriela Herrerias, UROP student 2019-2020, from her nomination letter

"Katherine Schafer is one of the most outstanding leaders that I have had the honor of working with at Florida State.  Anyone who knows her knows how passionate she is about her research and how it will be used to benefit the lives of others.  From the beginning of my assistantship, it has always been clear how deeply she cares for her studies, her family, and her students. Katherine Schafer truly has a heart for others, and this can be observed in everything she does.  Her mentorship and careful guidance has opened so many doors for me and for her other students who seek to achieve great endeavors. I can not express in words how grateful I am for everything she has allowed us to learn from her, and I earnestly look forward to working with her in the future."

—Summer Grace Fulcher, UROP student 2019-2020, from her nomination letter


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