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2021 Mentoring Awards Press Release

Four faculty honored for mentoring student scholarly projects

Four UW-Eau Claire faculty were honored for their skill and dedication in mentoring student scholarly projects.  A total of 51 faculty were nominated by students and alumni for these mentoring awards, which will be given annually.

 “Great mentors need to be adept at a variety of roles; apart from intentional recruitment of students and careful design of research projects, they also serve as consultants, counselors and sometimes cheerleaders to their mentees,” said Dr. Catherine Chan, executive director for research and sponsored programs. “Being a great mentor requires both skills and passion.”

The Emerging Mentor in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award highlights mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire no more than five years.

  • Brad Carter, Biology assistant professor, is in his fourth year at UW-Eau Claire. Student nominators described him as “(he) pushes us to learn new research methods and techniques that will benefit our future, and pushes us to consider our options for after college.”
  • Deidra Gerlach, Chemistry and Biochemistry assistant professor, is in her third year at UW-Eau Claire. Nomination materials described Dr. Gerlach as “always encouraging me, and everyone else in her research lab to keep going. Even if the reaction doesn't go as planned, she encourages us to keep moving forward and to try again. She reminds us that it is okay to make mistakes and to keep pursuing the goal.”

The Excellence in Mentoring Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award honors mentors who have been at UW-Eau Claire five years or more. 

  • Sudeep Bhattacharyay, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry since 2007, has mentored numerous students. One reviewer expressed that Dr. Bhattacharyay “expends a great amount of time in guiding and directing student learning, especially at the beginning of their involvement in the project. As the students become more acquainted with the science, he backs off, and allows them more autonomy as they grow professionally. He has proved himself adept at developing student knowledge and confidence, and a warm personal and professional bond develops between him and his students.”
  • Melissa Coolong-Chaffin is an Associate Professor of Psychology since 2012. One colleague described Dr. Coolong-Chaffin as “she supports students in an encouraging manner, while maintaining high expectations for professionalism and ethics given the nature of their work with community members.” The colleague goes on to say, “Dr. Coolong Chaffin’s work with students is most certainly a model of excellence in research mentoring. Her contributions are unique and have supported the career goals of countless students.”

“It has been a long-term goal of the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration to provide awards for top research mentors,” said Chan.  “It is inspiring for me to go through the applications and understand the impact of these mentors have on our students and the campus at-large.”

Selection of the awardees began with nominations by students and alumni.  Finalists then submitted materials, including a philosophy of mentoring and evidence of mentored student outcomes, which were evaluated by a faculty award committee. Criteria were developed by faculty and students based on published best practices and personal experience.  

 For more information about the awards, see links from the Mentoring web page.