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Recipients of the 2020 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research

Recipients of the 2020 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research

Photo collage of award recipients.

The Office of Undergraduate Research has announced the recipients of the 2020 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research, that honors faculty members in four categories: behavioral & social sciences, biosciences & health sciences, humanities & the arts, and physical sciences & technology.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Cole Vonder Haar, assistant professor of psychology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

  • Daniel Panaccione, Davis-Michael professor of plant and soil sciences in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

  • Travis Stimeling, associate professor of musicology in the College of Creative Arts

  • Jessica Hoover, associate professor of chemistry in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Undergraduate Research, 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.

“The selection committee was highly impressed by each of this year’s award recipients. These faculty members set the standard for incorporating undergraduates in disciplinary research, and incorporating them as junior colleagues who can and do contribute in meaningful and sometimes unexpected ways to scholarly endeavors,” said Michelle Richards-Babb, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “Their commitment moves beyond the research space and the training of students in disciplinary research. It includes one-on-one professional development that lasts well-beyond the undergraduate years and plays a pivotal role in our students’ success post-undergraduate.”

Over the past four years, Cole Vonder Haar has mentored 24 undergraduate students in his research lab, from which his students have gone on to present at least 33 research presentations. At least seven of his undergraduates appear as co-authors on peer-reviewed publications and he has mentored students in WVU-based undergraduate research programs including McNair, SURE, and RAP. More recently, Vonder Haar has included funding for undergraduate researchers in NIH and American Psychological Association grants.

Daniel Panaccione is well-known for quality mentoring of undergraduate researchers over an extended period of time. He treats his undergraduates as “intelligent, independent researchers, capable of excellent work” and includes them in all aspects of his scholarship, including the peer-review process associated with publication and the writing and submission of proposals. At least five undergraduates are co-authors on publications, one is co-inventor on a patent, and three were competitively selected to represent West Virginia and present their research at the prestigious Posters on the Hill event in Washington, D.C. In addition, professor Panaccione excellent work made it possible for him to receive two R15 Grants from NIH. These grants are awarded with an “emphasis on providing biomedical research experiences primarily for undergraduate students.”

Since joining the WVU faculty in 2013, Travis Stimeling has supervised at least six undergraduates in research. Though his disciplinary and research focus of musicology is available only to graduate students, Stimeling is enthusiastic about providing musicology-related research opportunities to undergraduates. He “helps them realize their potential as scholars, opens new pathways for their thinking, and consider new ways for them to make a difference in the world.” His undergraduates have contributed to the research in three books, four articles or chapters, two recordings and one dictionary entry. One undergraduate is listed as co-author on an internationally peer-reviewed essay – a rare achievement in this field that is known for its focus on graduate students and solitary research endeavors.

With her team of graduate and undergraduate trainees, Jessica Hoover conducts some of the most highly regarded chemistry research at WVU. In fact, she was recognized by the National Institutes of Health with an Outstanding Investigator award and by Eberly College with an Outstanding Researcher award. Hoover has mentored over 20 undergraduates in research over the last five years and has focused on providing research opportunities for students underrepresented in research, including women and first-generation college students. At least five of her undergraduates are listed as co-authors on five different peer-reviewed publications and most of her funded NIH and NSF grants include funding to support undergraduates in research. The research training Hoover provides, “helps each student find their path” and in many cases cements her students’ acceptances to prestigious graduate programs.

“What sets the WVU undergraduate experience apart is the tremendous opportunities they have to engage in cutting-edge research with truly dedicated mentors who go above and beyond to make sure that students have an authentic research experience that advances their careers” said Associate Vice President for Creative and Scholarly Activities, Melanie Page. Page congratulates and thanks the winners on behalf of the WVU Administration.

The recipients of the 2020 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. 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 undergradresearch@mail.wvu.edu.