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K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

The K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award honors the contribution of faculty who mentor undergraduate researchers to their students' development and to their own discipline.  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.



The award recipient must be a KU Lawrence Campus tenure-track or tenured faculty member.  Faculty in any department are eligible, but past recipients of this award cannot be nominated again.  Note:non-tenure-track faculty members, instructors, staff members, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students are not eligible for this award, and should instead be nominated for the 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
  • actively support departmental efforts to encourage undergraduate research

Based on criteria from Binghamton University.

Update (3-16-20): Due to changes associated with COVID-19, the deadline for departments to submit nominations for the K. Barbara Schowen Mentor Awards 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 home departments select one nominee and submit 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 department chairs and/or directors of undergraduate studies in the faculty member's home department.


Instructions for Departments:

Each department can nominate one faculty member for the K. Barbara Schowen Mentor Award per year.  Follow the guidelines below to nominate someone:

  1. Decide which faculty member your department will nominate.  The Center for Undergraduate Research has collected student recommendations for faculty mentors to be considered and, as of February 20, 2020, has forwarded these to the department chairs and/or directors of undergraduate studies in the faculty member's home department.  After this, departments will need to decide on one faculty member to nominate for the award.  Departments can nominate any member of their faculty, 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 academic department that addresses how the nominee fulfills the evaluation criteria
    • a list of undergraduates mentored by the faculty member, 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.)
    • at least one letter of support from a current or former undergraduate student

Additionally, departments can choose to include letters of support from alumni 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 K. Barbara Schowen Research Mentor Award:


Year Name Home Department
2020 Jennifer Gleason Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
2019 Deanna Hanson-Abromeit Music Therapy
2018 Derek Reed Applied Behavioral Science
2018 Kapila Silva Architecture
2017 Audrey Lamb Molecular Biosciences
2017 Lorie Vanchena Germanic Languages & Literatures
2016 Evangelia Chrysikou Psychology
2016 Shannon Portillo Public Affairs & Administration
2015 Joy Ward Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
2015 Paula Fite Clinical Child Psychology
2014 Kostas Kokkinakis Speech Language Hearing
2013 Cima Katz Visual Art
2013 Adrian Melott Physics & Astronomy
2012 Michael Rubin Chemistry
2011 Rob Ward Molecular Biosciences
2010 Patricia Hawley Psychology
2009 Dave Besson Physics and Astronomy
2008 William Picking Molecular Biosciences
2007 Holly Storkel Speech Language Hearing

The K. Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award is named after long-time KU professor of Chemistry Barbara Schowen.  After completing her graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964, Schowen was a faculty member at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas before coming to KU.  In 1995 she was promoted to Full Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Chemistry. In these capacities, she was responsible for overseeing the undergraduate educational mission of the Department as well as teaching courses in general and organic chemistry. She worked to establish honors sections in general and organic chemistry, to create and teach a senior-level undergraduate seminar course, and for the general improvement of laboratory instruction and instrumentation, as well as to encourage and facilitate the involvement of chemistry majors in research.  In August 1996, Barbara Schowen was named Director of the University of Kansas’ University Honors Program,  a program designed to provide honors courses and specialized advising for the most promising and motivated of the University’s undergraduates.  While as director, she started the Undergraduate Research Symposium for KU students to present their research on the KU Campus. Dr. Schowen retired from the University in 2003.

Dr. Schowen has been recognized nationally for her leadership role in publicizing the educational importance of undergraduate research for science majors and for her efforts in providing opportunities for science majors to engage in genuine research experiences during their undergraduate years. She was the co-PI for an NSF-sponsored national Workshop on Research in the Undergraduate Curriculum in 1990, co-organizer of a Symposium on Undergraduate Research held at the 1992 San Francisco National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, and, in September of 1997, an invited speaker at a workshop devoted to assessing the value of research held at the National Academy of Science in Washington, DC.  At the University of Kansas, she was the coordinator of more than eighteen years of highly successful funded summer undergraduate research participation programs in Chemistry, including NSF-URP and NSF-REU Site projects. The REU Site has been in continuous operation since 1988.  In 1996 she received the first Midwest Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research sponsored by the Sioux Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Since 1988, she has presented papers dealing with undergraduate education at 20 regional or national meetings and symposia (13 invited).  She was elected in 1988 to the Kansas Women's Hall of Fame and has received recognition from various student groups for excellence in teaching.  In August of 1997, she received a Kemper Fellowship from the Kansas City-based Kemper Foundation and the University of Kansas for excellence in undergraduate teaching and advising.

Schowen Award Timeline

Departmental 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
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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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