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Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

The Undergraduate Research Mentor Award recognizes the contribution that mentors make to a successful undergraduate research experience. In many disciplines, this mentoring is done by research faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.  The award recipient is recognized at the Undergraduate Research Symposium held at KU every spring and serves as a model to other mentors on campus on how to best support undergraduate research and creative scholarship on campus.

The recipient of the award will receive $1,000 to be presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium every spring.



The award recipient must be a KU Lawrence Campus staff member or graduate student at the time of nomination. This can include research faculty, staff, instructors, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students.  Anyone who mentors undergraduate researchers on projects outside of the classroom is eligible, regardless of the department.  Past recipients of the award are not eligible.  Note: tenure-track & tenured faculty members are not eligible for this award, and should instead be nominated for the K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.


Evaluation Criteria

Though they may not meet all of the criteria listed below, these awardees typically:

  • establish expectations clearly
  • actively and effectively guide students' research, creative projects, and development, helping them to move from directed toward independent research and creative work
  • maintain high standards for undergraduate performance
  • encourage students to share the results of their work as appropriate to the discipline (e.g., meetings, conferences, exhibits, performances, publications)
  • actively prepare students for success in applications to future careers and/or graduate and professional schools
  • actively encourage and support the participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds in undergraduate research
  • go above and beyond the average mentoring expectations for people in that department or at that stage in their career

Based on criteria from Binghamton University.

Update (3-16-20): Due to changes associated with COVID-19, the deadline for departments and supervisors to submit nominations for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award has been extended to April 1, 2020.

Research mentors are nominated through a two-part process: students, faculty, or staff submit recommendations for a mentor to be considered for the award, then the mentor's supervisor submits an application packet.

Follow the guidelines below to recommend or nominate a mentor:


Instructions for Students:

The student recommendation deadline for the 2020 award cycle has passed.  As of February 20, 2020, all student recommendations have been forwarded to the mentor’s supervisor.


Instructions for Supervisors:

Supervisors can nominate a mentor for the award by following the guidelines below.  For the purpose of this award, supervisors are defined as anyone who oversees the nominee and can speak to the person's efforts related to the mentoring of undergraduate researchers, such as a faculty PI or an employee's direct supervisor.

  1. Consider who you might nominate.  The Center for Undergraduate Research has collected student recommendations for mentors to be considered for the award and, as of February 20, 2020, has forwarded these to the mentor’s supervisor.  After this, supervisors can decide who they would like to nominate; if appropriate, supervisors are allowed to nominate more than one person.  Supervisors can nominate anyone, regardless of whether that person was officially recommended through our online form.
  2. Compile an application packet. Nomination packets should include:
    • a letter of nomination from the supervisor that addresses how the nominee fulfills the evaluation criteria.  If you are nominating a staff member, please include whether that person works a full-time or part-time position and the degree to which undergraduate research mentoring is an expected part of that role.
    • a list of undergraduates mentored by the nominee, along with a brief (1-3 sentences) description of the research/creative accomplishments of each student (e.g. completion of a thesis, presentations, juried art exhibitions, awards, etc.).  Note: it is normal for many graduate students to only have one student on this list; this is expected for mentors at this phase in their career and will not count against the nomination.
    • at least one letter of support from a current or former undergraduate student.

Additionally, supervisors can include letters of support from alumni, graduate students, or faculty members, as well as any other materials that document the mentor's commitment to undergraduate research.

  1. Submit your nomination. Email a single nomination packet in PDF form to by April 1st, 2020 at 5 pm.

See below for a list of past recipients of the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award:

Year Name Home Department
2020 Romana Jarosova Chemistry
2019 Pamela Johnson Bioengineering
2018 Andrew Mongue Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
2017 Maria Eifler KU Biodiversity Institute
2016 Eric Welch Jewish Studies Program
2015 Carla Harper Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
2014 Rachel Bowes Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


Mentor Award Timeline

Supervisor Nominations

Email nomination packets to

Extended deadline: April 1, 2020, 5:00 pm

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Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
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