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2016 Outstanding Faculty Research Mentor: Sherry Cox

Sherry Cox As Sherry Cox began to wrap up her spring semester, she and three of her colleagues received word that they would be recognized for their work as faculty mentors. The first Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards were hand delivered to University of Tennessee, Knoxville faculty members that demonstrated an outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Cox, clinical professor of biomedical and diagnostic sciences in the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine, was nominated for the award by students Kristen Gordon and Molly White.

Gordon said that her professor has “been an amazing mentor in too many ways to count. She has allowed me to be a part of, and even published on, many of her projects. Any time that I seek extra explanation or involvement, all I have to do is ask and she will do her best to make it happen. She has guided me not only in research, but in life decisions and even in the rigorous veterinary school application process.”

“I began working with Dr. Cox two and a half years ago in her pharmacology lab at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical School, and in that short amount of time, she has impacted my learning experience and research background in more ways than one,” said White. “Dr. Cox is a prime example of a mentor who wants nothing but the best for her students and workers, and will never hesitate to go the extra mile to help them reach their goals…She always pushes me to strive for more and to work harder. I have learned an invaluable amount just by working with her in her pharmacology lab, and I am more grateful than I can ever express…Dr. Cox has a way of seeing more potential in a student than they themselves could ever imagine, and she works with that student so that they can see it for themselves.”

Sherry Cox received her her doctorate in Comparative and Experimental Medicine from UT, her master’s in pharmacology/toxicology from East Tennessee State University, and her bachelor’s in chemistry from Lincoln Memorial University.

For more information about Sherry Cox, please visit the College of Veterinary Medicine’s website.

2016 Outstanding Faculty Mentor: Sadie Hutson

Sadie HutsonSadie Hutson is no stranger to recognition, having previously received the Regional Cooperative for Professional Nurses Week RN Clinical Excellence Award (2013) and the ETSU College of Nursing Nurse of the Year award in Research (2007) among others. This spring, she added a new award to her curriculum vitae, becoming one of four faculty members at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to be named Undergraduate Faculty Research Mentor of the Year.

Hutson, associate professor of nursing, has described her research as investigating “the social and cultural consequences of living with chronic illness in a rural and often underserved region.” She is the principal investigator of NIH-funded research into end-of-life care and service needs for patients living with HIV/AIDS in the Appalachian region.

Students Caroline Darlington and Lauren Speck nominated Hutson for this award. “Dr. Hutson’s clarity, expertise, and passion for nursing research create a learning environment that nurtures critical thinking and make tackling complex concepts enjoyable,” wrote Darlington. “When I joined her research team, she helped me define my own research goals and equipped me with the skills to successfully achieve them. She encouraged my questions and valued my insight.

“One of her most endearing qualities is her ability to connect with her students on a personal level while fostering professionalism and earning deep respect. No matter how busy, she is always willing to talk with me when I need advice…She has given me the feedback and confidence necessary to reach my unique potential.”

Lauren Speck called her “one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met” and wrote that Hutson happily “answered late-night frantic phone calls about life and career advice” and became a friend and mentor.  “I truly believe she can do anything.” Perhaps the most palpable recommendation of all came from Darlington’s nomination, stating that “While she motivates [students] to succeed academically, she also teaches by her example that true greatness comes through selfless dedication and compassion for others.”

For more information on Sadie Hutson, please visit her entry in the Experts Guide from Tennessee Today.


2016 Outstanding Faculty Mentor: Daniel Roberts

Daniel-Roberts-150x150On a Wednesday afternoon at the end of the spring semester, Daniel Roberts received some unexpected visitors to his lab. Accompanied by two of his undergraduate students, Marisa Moazen, director of undergraduate research, presented him with one of four Undergraduate Faculty Research Mentor of the Year awards.

Roberts serves as a professor and the head of the department of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Clayton Nunn and Ahmand Mitoubsi, the two students who had nominated Roberts for the award, were present to witness the event.

“Dr. Roberts has been a wonderful mentor and role model,” said Nunn. “He readily provides guidance in a kind and keen manner, and exhibits a fine example in his clear set of values and his passionate ability to inspire. Dr. Roberts exudes a clear sense of what is important in the advancement of research, but never ceases to consider the student as an individual, taking a unique interest in helping students to develop into successful professionals.”

“The number of undergraduates interested in conducting research is growing nationwide as well as here at UT,” said Marisa Moazen, director of undergraduate research. It is important faculty mentors to enhance the classroom learning, improve communication and critical thinking. Dr. Roberts and the rest of our faculty mentors this year are truly invested in our student researchers.”

“He wants his students to learn and excel in their learning,” said Mitoubsi. “He teaches students how he thinks students should be taught. Once [his students] have learned, he wants them to show what they have learned, to [demonstrate their level] of performance. He will leave everything to answer and help any student that approaches him. It is a great honor for me to learn from such an intelligent, caring man.”

Roberts describes his laboratory as “broadly interested in the integral membrane transport proteins that mediate transport phenomena in response to metabolic need and environmental stress adaptation.”

To view his research statement and selected publications visit his faculty profile.

2016 Outstanding Faculty Mentor:  Anne Smith

Anne SmithWhen a group of people, led by Director of Undergraduate Research Marisa Moazen, filed into Anne Smith’s Management 435 during the last week of class, she was under the impression they were going to present one of her students with an award. After handing her lecture over to Moazen, Smith was surprised to find that she had been selected as one of four recipients of the Undergraduate Faculty Research Mentor of the Year awards for the 2015-16 academic year.

Smith serves as the King and Judy Rogers Professor in Business, professor of management, and head of the Department of Management for the Haslam College of Business.

“Professor Smith is the consummate scholar,” said Stephen L. Mangum, dean of the Haslam College of Business and Stokely Foundation Leadership Chair. “She is intellectually curious, gifted in her ability to ask interesting questions, and well versed in a wide variety of alternative research methodologies and protocols she seamlessly blends her research and teaching activities. Given this, a student with research interests cannot help but come away positively influenced by their association with her.”

Students Sara Aronson and Piper Davis nominated their professor for this award. “Dr. Smith was an excellent thesis mentor for my project,” said Davis. “Sometimes I would feel as if I had hit a roadblock or my topic was too obscure. However, during our meetings, her suggestions would resonate with me in a way that reignited my passion for my project. Dr. Smith truly cares about each one of her students and their individual projects.”

Charles Noble, associate dean for research of the college, called Smith a “wonderful faculty exemplar of the ability to blend the scholarship of research and teaching,” and praised her ability to connect with her students.

Smith received her doctorate and MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia. She is a researcher and educator with a number of prestigious publications and previous awards to her name.

For more information on her background and accomplishments please visit her faculty profile.

Haslam Scholar Featured ORNL Undergraduate Researcher

Oak Ridge Associated Universities published an undergraduate research profile on Daniel Enciso, a sophomore in the Haslam Scholars program studying computer engineering.

But Enciso didn’t always want to study engineering. Initially, he wanted to enter the medical field.

“My parents helped me see that a degree in engineering is powerful because of the influence that an engineering education has on the mind, character and subsequent actions of an individual,” Enciso told ORAU. “The problem-solving strategies, vision and determination obtained from an education in engineering prepare one for any field and for life in general.”

Read Daniel Enciso’s full undergraduate profile here.

2016 Posters at the Capitol

2016 Posters at the CapitolSeven students traveled to Nashville on Wednesday, February 24 to present their research to the Tennessee Legislature. Students had the opportunity to meet with their elected officials and share their passion for research.

The seven UT students were:

  • Natalie Bennett
  • Stephanie Eddy
  • Daniel Enciso
  • William Trey Johnson
  • Bridget Sellers
  • Coral Thayer
  • Louis Varriano

Fall 2015 Dean’s List Now Available

The fall 2015 dean’s list has been posted online.

To qualify for the dean’s list, an undergraduate student must earn a term grade point average of 3.80 to 4.00 (summa cum laude), 3.65 to 3.79 (magna cum laude), or 3.50 to 3.64 (cum laude). Students must complete at least twelve credit hours, not counting work taken on a satisfactory/no-credit basis, to be eligible.

The list is searchable by last name, city, county (Tennessee only), and state.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

UT Sees Record Participation for 2016 National Conference on Undergraduate Research

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is the leading national venue for the presentation of undergraduate research. Each year over 4,000 undergraduates from institutions across the country converge to present their research through posters, oral presentations, visual arts and performances. 

Although a handful UT students have presented in 2008, 2014, and 2015, UT has not had a strong presence compared to our peers—until 2016. NCUR accepted 59 UT undergraduate posters and oral presentations (65 total students) for NCUR 2016 which will be held in Asheville, NC on April 7-9.

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Posters on the Hill 2016 — Call for Abstracts

As the undergraduate research community works to ensure that those in the U.S. Congress have a clear understanding of the research and education programs they fund, nothing more effectively demonstrates the value of undergraduate research than a student participant’s words, work, and stories.

Students and their faculty mentors are invited to apply for the Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) 20th annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. In addition to other events, there will be an evening poster session and reception where students will have the opportunity to speak directly to members of Congress and demonstrate how they have been impacted by these programs.

UT’s internal deadline for submission is Thursday, October 22. Visit the website for more information or to submit.

Accepted submissions will receive a travel grant in order to attend the event in Washington, DC, scheduled for sometime in April 2016.

UT Student wins the Coryell award

Congratulations to Ashlyn Jones, winner of the Coryell award, the American Chemical Society’s Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology award for undergraduate research.

Ashlyn receives a cash award, a certificate, and a spot on the Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology’s website for life.

Her faculty mentor was Dr. Howard Hall, Governor’s Chair Professor of Nuclear Security and Director of the UT Institute for Nuclear Security.

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