Release Date: May 20, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has announced the first recipients of a new award that recognizes faculty whose commitment to mentoring gives UB's undergraduates opportunities to conduct research and scholarship that are not routinely available at many institutions.
The new UB Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity grew from awareness within the university that the best faculty mentors demonstrate a substantial and consistent commitment to providing students with transformative educational experiences.
"The opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct research under the tutelage of our outstanding faculty is a distinctive feature of the student experience at UB," says Lucinda Finley, vice provost for faculty affairs at UB. "Mentoring undergraduates in research, introducing them to the joys of discovery and deeper understanding that one gains through original research and creative artistic projects, is a vitally important aspect of teaching at a research university such as UB."
Winners of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity for 2011 are:
Lynne Koscielniak, associate professor of theater and dance, College of Arts and Sciences whose mentoring in the areas of lighting and set design, costumes, props and sound has led to UB students showcasing their work at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals and the Prague Quadriennial of Stage Design, the world's preeminent stage design exhibit for professionals and students.
John Ringland, PhD, professor of mathematics, College of Arts and Sciences, who founded and directs the UB Urge to Compute Undergraduate Research Program, one of 13 programs of its kind nationwide, funded by the National Science Foundation and whose mentoring has resulted in his students publishing in peer-reviewed publications and presenting research at professional conferences.
Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, PhD, professor of biotechnology and clinical lab sciences, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who developed exceptional research mentoring opportunities for students in her laboratory and a biotechnology summer internship program, which placed more than 100 UB students over the past decade in internships at companies, government labs and scientific institutes in Western New York and around the world.
Kenneth Takeuchi, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the UB Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, who has long welcomed undergraduates into his research lab even as freshmen and who has mentored more than 100 undergraduates, more than half of whom are female, and many of whom go on to pursue graduate degrees in the sciences.
Jennifer Zirnheld, PhD, assistant professor of electrical engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, who supervises undergraduates in her lab, some of whom cite her as a critical factor in their academic and career success, and who serves as faculty advisor for engineering clubs. She supervises interns from the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, the Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities program and the SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority program.
Award recipients were honored for establishing a strong professional mentoring relationship with students, acting as a role model for methods of inquiry or artistic expression in the chosen field of study and for the responsible and ethical conduct of research or creative activity. They demonstrate an ability to inspire students and support the dissemination of the students' work through recognized professional outlets.
"These faculty are at the cutting edge of their disciplines," says A. Scott Weber, PhD, vice provost for undergraduate education. "As a university, we think it's incredibly important to honor them for not only being heavily engaged in scholarship but playing a pivotal role in developing the scholars of the future, too."
In addition to the offices of the vice provosts for undergraduate education and faculty affairs, the UB Office of the Vice President for Research also played an important role in the creation of this award.
The next round of the awards will be announced during spring semester, 2012.