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 Office of Research and presented at the annual FSU faculty awards dinner.

One graduate student and one 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 2022 was presented to Dr. Michael David Franklin for mentoring UROP student Nadia Rassech in research on the LGBT Oral History Project of North Florida.

Dr. Michael David Franklin
"Good mentorship is a collaboration between mentor and student. I see undergraduate students as important collaborators whose questions and novel approaches to problems drive the success of my public history research, for which effective public engagement is crucial. Knowing what students new to public history do not know helps me think productively about how to tell the story of my research findings to a general audience. Thus, I have the opportunity to shape and inform how my students formulate questions and how they use methods to answer those questions, and in doing so I create clear structure for them in which to grow as researchers. At the same time, I listen to my students, foster conversations among them about contemporary examples of publicly engaged history, and use this information to better understand my own blind spots and assumptions. This exchange is mutually beneficial: as they grow as novice researchers and young professionals learning how to draw from their curiosity to work together and creatively solve problems, I grow by absorbing what their new ideas teach me and by gaining new ways of seeing the world. Ultimately, I balance my mentorship and project leadership with this democratic mode of collaborative knowledge production. The end result is the creation of a dynamic community in which students and I are fellow interlocutors, researching the world around us in a mutually transformative way."

—Dr. Michael David Franklin, from his mentoring statement

While during winter break, visiting the SFPL was by far one of my most memorable academic experiences from my first semester at college. While finalizing our UROP contract, I had been excited to hear that so much material was held not too far away from my hometown in California. I knew I’d be going home for winter break, but the prospect of me having the opportunity to visit the SFPL was initially just that: a prospect. While my tasks as a UROP mentee started with transcription work, the freedom that Dr. Franklin was willing to give me and my fellow UROP student opened up a variety of opportunities for the both of us. Dr. Franklin continuously stressed letting us use our own passions to direct our involvement, whether that be working to design a digital version of a museum display, helping with outreach, partaking in interviews, writing a blog post related to our project, or even working on a podcast, Dr. Franklin was always open to new ideas.

Not only was he willing to hear our ideas, but he was committed to implementing them as well. Throughout the semester, Dr. Franklin worked to get in touch with archivists at the library and figure out what I would have access to once there. The archivists were so well informed about our project and what was needed when I got there, thanks to Dr. Franklin and his thorough communication, that I was not only able to work more efficiently, but I felt supported and less stressed about my previously minimal archival experience. Throughout my three days at the SFPL, Dr. Franklin was also on standby, taking moments out of his travels to answer my questions and thank me for what I was doing. I am thankful to have him as my UROP mentor, as he allowed me to expand my role as a mentee and play a significant role in the curation of our museum exhibit."

—Nadia Rassech, UROP student 2021-2022, from her nomination letter

The Post-Doc Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for 2022 was presented to Dr. Daniel Dunleavy. Dr. Dunleavy mentored UROP student Conqualla Scott on "Social Determinants and Comorbidity in Minority Groups."

Dr. Dunleavy

"I would describe my teaching and mentoring philosophy as being student-centered and humanistic. This is influenced by two factors. 

First is my educational and professional background. I am a social worker by education and training. Social work, as a profession, places high value on self-determination and emphasizes the importance of human relationships. The goals of a client (or in the academic setting: the student) are front and center and the task of the helper (i.e., the social worker, teacher, mentor, etc.) is to create a safe environment in which to build trust and to foster growth, change, and self-actualization. As a researcher and academic, I try to incorporate these values into the mentoring relationship – emphasizing student-centered learning and objectives."

—Dr. Dunleavy, from his mentoring statement

"Daniel Dunleavy exemplifies all of the qualities that make a phenomenal mentor. From the moment that I met him; he was nothing short of amazing. My entire UROP experience has been exceptional and exceeded my expectations. I began this experience with a minimal amount of knowledge regarding research and I struggled with my ability to participate in such an important research study. Daniel has not only been helpful professionally and academically, but personally as well.

My journey as a first-generation, minority student at a predominantly white institution has been very difficult and hard to adjust to. From the moment that we met, Daniel reassured me of my abilities and helped me understand that it is okay to be imperfect. He helped me reaffirm that I am fully capable of achieving the goals that I set. During the fall semester, I especially experienced imposter syndrome because my classes were significantly harder, and I had no one in my classes who looked like me. This was very harmful to my mental health and negatively impacted my college experience. During this time, even though we were virtual, and he was dealing with his own personal matters with maternity leave, he was by my side and helped me. I really appreciate how he was willing to listen to my grievances and aid in my adjustment to being in a place where I am often ostracized."

—Conqualla ScottUROP student 2021-2022, from her nomination letter

The Graduate Student Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for 2022 was presented to Bobbie Renfro. Jennifer mentored Remi Ventura in researching "The Aquaculture of Sponges, the Coral Reef Superheroes, in a Closed Laboratory System."

Bobbie Renfro

"As a mentor, I strive to provide mentees with the same opportunities that my past mentors provided to me, a safe and supportive environment to: 1) follow curiosity, 2) take on new challenges, and 3) explore the world of marine biology, both through scientific research and public outreach, even if these are not their primary career aspirations. While providing these opportunities, I work also to guide mentees in developing basic professional skills which will benefit them in a variety of careers, should they decide that marine biology is not ultimately for them. By using marine biological research as a framework to develop these universally beneficial skills, I hope to simultaneously inspire an excitement for the natural world and promote professional success for my mentees no matter where their career path leads."

—Bobbie Renfro, from her mentoring statement

"Bobbie Renfro is an outstanding mentor, and I could not have asked for a better one. While many UROP students are assisting graduate students or Ph.D. candidates on their research, Bobbie really let me take the reigns in deciding how we would spend our time. She outlined multiple projects that she was interested in and let me choose which one to move forward with. We chose to try and cultivate sponges in a closed system and she was super supportive throughout the entire process. She was always there when I had questions or needed guidance and provided me with the utmost support. We worked together to determine the most successful set up for the project and she allowed me to test my ideas, while still providing me insight.

Unlike other research mentors, she is very understanding, flexible, and wants me to get as much as I can out of this program. She always gives me the opportunity to learn and delve into different projects around the lab, answers my abundance of questions, and even sends me resources she believes I may be interested in. I interviewed for many different positions when UROP first started and Bobbie was the only mentor to make me feel like she was looking out for my education above finishing her thesis and Ph.D. She is excited to hear what I have to say and work closely with me. Bobbie is always looking for ways to improve my ability in the lab, even bringing in prior students of hers to discuss my projects with and connect with"

—Remi Ventura, UROP student 2021-2022, from her nomination letter

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