Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Nominees

Research Mentor of the Year Ribbon

Each year during SOARS, one mentor from among those nominated by their student mentees is recognized as Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year. This coveted award recognizes the most outstanding faculty mentor among many who have excelled in supporting, encouraging, and guiding their undergraduate student researchers. The recipient of the Mentor of the Year award exemplifies UNF’s values in terms of teaching, research, and service.

A robust field of fourteen faculty members was nominated as the 2020 Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year! Warmest congratulations to each of you.

2020 Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Nominees

Michael J. Aspinwall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology

“ … no one seemed as passionate about integrating young undergraduate students into research as Dr. Aspinwall did … he put in the time and effort to train me and expose me to proper research procedures … I have been a member of the Aspinwall lab since August 2019, and I can honestly say it has been one of the best experiences of my life … Because of his impact, I now know I want to pursue a career in research.”

Mandi N. Barringer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology

“ … Dr. Barringer has played such a huge role in shaping my passions and interests … She is so passionate towards her research and her classes and ensures that each student feels heard, recognized, and important even when they present differing opinions … She wants everybody to succeed around her without wanting any of the credit … She has inspired me and so many other students … an incredible role model … ”

Christopher Baynard, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geography and GIS

“ … Dr. Baynard demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to his university community as well as to the general public and his students … provides exceptional support to any and all students … motivates individuals and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations, or direction to help them achieve their goals … sets a wonderful examples to his students and is highly inclusive in doing so … ”

Elizabeth R. Brown, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

“ … she has assisted in my professional development, encouraged me, challenged me, and provided guidance to select and pursue a career in research … Dr. Brown personally assisted me to reach my academic and professional goals each step of the way … She is passionate about helping students reach their highest potential and is consistently involved in the betterment, diversity, and progression at UNF … ”

Ayan Dutta, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computing

“ … flexible and supportive … offered useful advice and feedback, and was always understanding … readily available to discuss or explain whenever something needed clarification … with Dr. Dutta’s help, I was able to co-author and submit two research papers as an undergraduate student, one of which was accepted to a flagship robotics conference … ”

Daniela Genova, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics

“ … Dr. Genova puts in so many hours throughout each week to assist her students … She goes above and beyond every semester for each and every one of her students who are either writing a paper, preparing for the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) conference, or just preparing a presentation for class … This year she was chosen to receive the 2020 MAA Distinguished University Teaching Award … ”

Dominik Guess, Ph.D., 2017 John A. Delaney Presidential Professor, Psychology

“Dr. Guess goes above and beyond for his students … always offering new and exciting opportunities, even if it is outside his scope in academia … As a research mentor, he has given me the tools to succeed … provided numerous ways to support and help me in my journey through school … takes his job seriously and goes the extra mile for his students … I recognize the hard work and time he puts into his students … ”

Bryan A. Knuckley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

“ … the research mentorship I received has truly shaped my life and future career aspirations … The constant support and commitment that Dr. Knuckley provides students on a daily basis is the reason he should receive this award … always accessible and willing to help … responds with positivity … He encourages us, pushes us, and makes sure we have all the available tools to succeed … ”

Amy L. Lane, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

“ … empowers her students to be critical thinking scientists and human beings … Dr. Lane gives the tools and vision, involves us in the strategies to attain them, allows us to pursue avenues of our own devising, helps us to grow as independent and valuable members of the group … fosters an environment of inclusion, teamwork, and acceptance among a diverse group of students … spends countless hours mentoring … ”

Jonathan Matheson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy

“ … the confidence I have in my work, and my own self-confidence, have increased significantly given that he keeps encouraging me to aim high and get out of my comfort zone … Being Dr. Matheson’s mentee has been the most rewarding honor and pleasure of my undergraduate career … He’s a phenomenal mentor … Dr. Matheson is dedicated, caring, passionate, encouraging, and supportive … ”

Julie W. Merten, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Public Health and Interdisciplinary Health Studies

“Dr. Merten has been my mentor for two years and changed my experience at UNF … I’ve published in professional journals and presented at national conferences … I have received three job offers, and this would not have been possible without her … she is so enthusiastic and really likes her students … Dr. Merten is my research mentor and my life mentor … ”

Deborah S. Reed, Ed.D., Associate Instructor of Exceptional, Deaf and Interpreter Education

“Dr. Reed helps us to develop inquiry skills and guides us through the research process … helped me to become a more independent and critical thinker … Dr. Reed has helped me do things I did not think were possible. I went from being afraid to present in class to presenting at a national conference with her help … She has always taken a mentor role as opposed to an evaluative role … ”

Kristen Hicks-Roof, Ph.,D., Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics

“ … the literal definition of a fantastic research mentor … has found the perfect balance between offering guidance on projects and letting her undergraduate research assistants take the lead … makes it a point to include students … Dr. Roof is quick to respond to questions and is a wealth of knowledge about all things research … she has a never-ending excitement about research that makes all of us excited too!”

Heather Barnes Truelove, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology

“Before I met her, I was lost. Now, I have advanced my academic career in ways that I never imagined. This is due to Dr. Truelove’s constant motivation and determination to push me to the best of my ability … the research she does is tremendously intriguing and imperative to the sustainability of the planet … completely revolutionizing and inspiring … She has been essential to my academic success … ”

The 2020 Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year has been Announced. The recipient of the award will receive a trophy and a $1,000 research grant.