West Virginia University’s Office of the Provost has announced the recipients of the 2019 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research, expanded this year to honor faculty members in four categories: behavioral and social sciences, biosciences and health sciences, humanities and the arts, and physical sciences and technology.
This year’s recipients are:
- Sadie Bergeron, assistant professor of biology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
- Cerasela Dinu, associate professor and associate chair of chemical and biomedical engineering in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
- Cheryl McNeil, professor of psychology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
- Geah Pressgrove, assistant professor of advertising and public relations in the Reed College of Media
Partially sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Honors College, the award serves to recognize, reward and encourage faculty members who mentor undergraduate students in research and creative endeavors. The award applies rigorous criteria to identify faculty who specifically mentor undergraduates in making an original intellectual or creative contribution to their discipline.
“Each of this year’s award recipients has demonstrated their ability to pass on their knowledge while guiding, supporting, and encouraging our undergraduates to do exceptional research work in every discipline,” said Michelle Richards-Babb, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “Their commitment to their students both in and out of the classroom demonstrates that no matter the discipline, exceptional undergraduate research mentoring plays a pivotal role in our students’ success.”
Over the past three years, Sadie Bergeron has mentored 24 undergraduate students in her research lab, from which her students have gone on to earn NASA WV Space Grants and Fulbright Scholarships in addition to other honors and funding. Her students have won six best poster presentation awards at internal and external scientific meetings and conferences, and many have served as co-authors on peer-reviewed research publications.
Since joining the WVU faculty in 2009, Cerasela Dinu has supervised more than 50 undergraduates in a wide range of disciplines; 25 of her mentees have been female students in chemistry, molecular biology, or material science. Many of her students have won national and international recognition, including five best poster presentations from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
With her team of graduate and undergraduate trainees, Cheryl McNeil conducts some of the most highly regarded community-based psychology research at WVU. Over the past five years alone, she has mentored six McNair Scholars into PhD programs, and has supervised theses for 10 honors students, all of whom have been accepted to or enrolled in graduate study. McNeil also presents eight to 10 papers at professional conferences with her undergraduate students each year.
Geah Pressgrove has served as coordinator of a formalized Undergraduate Research Academy to support the Reed College’s Public Interest Communication Research Lab. After receiving two separate research-based grants from the West Virginia Department of Education, she also trained undergraduate students to be her research assistants, allowing them to actively participate in research that led to a published research manuscript and specific recommendations for the WVDE.
“As an R1 Institution, we value the critical role undergraduate research experiences play in giving our students the skills they need to go on to productive academic and professional careers,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “That’s why we were excited to expand the award this year to honor mentors in more categories where research can shape our students’ futures.”
The recipients of the 2019 Faculty Awards for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research will each receive a monetary award to be used toward their continued support of their student researchers. They will also be recognized by Provost McConnell and President E. Gordon Gee at the faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House later this month. The Office of Undergraduate Research connects students and faculty to provide opportunities for students to engage in scholarly inquiry and creative endeavors. Students who are interested in research can visit the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.