Natural History Museum building at sunrise.

Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

The Undergraduate Research Mentor Award recognizes the contribution that research faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate student mentors make to a successful undergraduate research experience.

Nominations Due: February 18th, 11:59PM

Research mentors are nominated through the following process: students, faculty, or staff submit recommendations for a mentor to be considered for the award, the nominated mentor fills out the nominee form and provides student names to write letters of support, students submit letters, CUR assembles the application packet. Please be aware that there have been changes in the application process from previous years. Mentors are free to nominate themselves.

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.

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.

If you are nominated for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, you will receive an email from the Center for Undergraduate Research with a link to the Nominee Form. The Nominee form is due by March 11th, 11:59PM.

Filling out the Nominee Form:

The Nominee Form includes a list of all undergraduates mentored, the names of three students who could write letters of support (2 are required for consideration), a brief statement of mentorship, and a few other questions. After the Nominee Form is submitted, the Center for Undergraduate Research will reach out to the three students you named to solicit letters of support.

If you wish to add additional letters of support from students, faculty peers, staff, or supervisors you may do so. Please have additional letters emailed to cur@ku.edu with the subject line URMA Letter (Last Name of Nomineeby March 25th.

Writing a letter:

If your mentor nominates/names you to write a full letter of support (also referred to as a letter of recommendation) for their nomination packet, the Center for Undergraduate Research will contact you. Letters from students should be emailed to cur@ku.edu with the subject line URMA Letter (Last Name of Mentor) and are due March 25th, 11:59PM.

These recommendation letters are typically 1-2 pages.  Here are some tips to make your recommendation letter stand out:

Be specific:

Recommendation letters tend to have a lot of broad sentences along the lines of "this mentor cares about their students."  Being specific and providing examples can help your letter stand out.  Show your reader how your mentor excels rather than just stating that they do.  For example, writing something along the lines of "my mentor always asks about my family at our meetings, they texted me to make sure that I was okay when I was out sick for an entire week, and they always stop by to say hello when they see me in the lab" provides a much clearer picture of what your mentor actually does to show that they care about their students. Really strong letters give clear glimpses into how the mentor interacts with their students on a day-to-day level and help the committee "see" the work of mentoring through specific examples.

Address the evaluation criteria: 

The review committee is looking for examples of specific things when they read the nomination packet.  A good starting point for your letter would be to look at the evaluation criteria listed on this website and write down any examples of these criteria from your interactions with your mentor.  When you write the draft of your letter, it can help to use the same or similar language in your letter to make sure the review committee makes a connection between your example and the evaluation criteria.

YearNameHome Department
2021Phil DuncanLinguistics
2020Romana JarosovaChemistry
2019Pamela JohnsonBioengineering
2018Andrew MongueEcology & Evolutionary Biology
2017Maria EiflerKU Biodiversity Institute
2016Eric WelchJewish Studies Program
2015Carla HarperEcology & Evolutionary Biology
2014Rachel BowesEcology & Evolutionary Biology