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Faculty members win awards for providing meaningful mentoring, research opportunities for Blugolds

| LeBrenda Street

More than 250 students into his research mentoring career, Dr. David Lonzarich still loves helping students develop their academic and intellectual potential at UW-Eau Claire.

“In research, there are so many great adventures along the way, and I want my students to experience all of them. It’s like going to Disneyland for the 10th time with someone who has never gone before,” Lonzarich said.

Dr. Lonzarich’s love and enthusiasm for student mentoring is a sentiment shared by approximately 200 faculty research mentors at UW-Eau Claire. Going above and beyond their already heavy workload of classroom teaching, advising and service, mentors invest their time, energy and expertise into helping students grow in their commitment to and understanding of research, and their ability to engage in all aspects of the scientific process.

To recognize these phenomenal faculty members, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs delivers annual awards for Excellence in Mentoring, now in their second year. Students and faculty are encouraged to nominate a research mentor. After the nominations are in, the awards committee reviews what the student wrote and selects finalist in each category. The committee reviews materials submitted by the finalists and select the winners.

The Excellence in Mentoring, Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award was presented to two faculty members this year. Dr. David Lonzarich and Dr. April Bleske-Rechek are this year’s winners.

Lonzarich’s nominators touched on his respect and patience with his student researchers, and his willingness to spend many hours working to ensure their full understanding.

One nominee was thinking about dropping out of school before he connected with Dr. Lonzarich.

“He said I had real talent and potential and … talked to me about my life and where I wanted to go.”  That student went on to complete two research projects and graduate.

Bleske-Rechek has been mentoring students for nearly 20 years, and she still considers time with student research gratifying and intellectually stimulating.

“She has so much faith in her students, and takes great pride in our achievements,” a student nominator said.

During the course of research, Bleske-Rechek’s students come to think of her not so much a “professor” but as a team member of the lab who will praise, motivate and keep them on track. The students said Bleske-Rechek also speculate with them about their findings and future endeavors, and offers a strong opinion when needed.

Students also had great things to say about Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski, the winner of the Emerging Mentor Award, which is presented to a faculty member who has been at UW-Eau Claire for five years or less.

“Dr. Glogowski is incredibly encouraging not only in research, but in student growth professionally and personally.  She has high expectations and pushes everyone to achieve full potential, while providing any resources as needed and immeasurable support along the way,” a student nominator said of Glogowski.

Glogowksi, who teaches materials science, considers working with undergraduate students in the lab an integral and invigorating aspect of her role as a faculty member.

“I am happy when my students win awards for presenting their research, scholarships for conducting research, and acceptance into graduate school or industrial positions. My students' success is my most important research accomplishment!” Glogowski said.

 “It is a great opportunity to spend more time one-on-one with hard-working and engaged students and to see their love of science and research grow as they work on their research project with me,” Glogowski said.

Photo caption: Dr. Elizabeth Glogowski watches as student Liz Stubbs focuses on her work in the materials science lab.