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Spencer Olmstead named Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences

Congratulations to Dr. Spencer Olmstead, one of 2018’s winners of the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award.

Olmstead treats his mentoring relationships according to their individual concerns and aspirations, recognizing the unique qualities of each student. Through this, he has developed a closely knit team with his graduate assistants and undergraduate researchers, one which gives students recognition and ownership of their accomplishments. Kayley Davis writes that Olmstead “ensures that any student he mentors is aware of the contribution of their work” and gives opportunities for authorship and presentation, while Kevin Treadway says, “One of my favorite things about Dr. Olmstead is the trust he placed in me.”

Olmstead’s mentorship has given students confidence and a greater recognition of their own place in the larger academic community, opening the way to the improvement of society through research. Treadway goes on to say, “This trust that was placed in me instilled me with a sense of confidence that helped me work on my own research to the best of my abilities. In the end, Dr. Olmstead has been an absolutely amazing mentor to me. He has trusted me, listened to me, instructed me, and led me to see the ways in which research is vital to the expansion of knowledge and betterment of society.”

Dr. Olmstead is an associate professor in child and family studies, and he is co-director of the Well-Being in Adolescents and Emerging Adults Laboratory. He received his PhD from Florida State University. His current research studies the sexual health and well-being of young adults, in particular young adult men’s sexual and reproductive health.

Greg Stuart named 1 of 3 Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year for the College of Arts & Sciences

Congratulations to Dr. Gregory Stuart, one of 2018’s winners of the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award.

Students praise Stuart’s in-class instruction and vast body of knowledge, but they especially note the kindness and respect with which he treats his students. Meredith Denney writes that “He is personable and cheerful every time I interact with him. It’s hard to believe someone is that delightful over email. Multiple times when my confidence in my research has lacked, Dr. Stuart went above and beyond to boost my self esteem and encourage me to never give up. With every acceptance email, he would celebrate with me,” and others similarly note Stuart’s dedication to getting to know his students and helping them to succeed. As Dana Conzemius explains, “Dr. Stuart should be considered for the Faculty Research Mentor Award not only because of his diligence and affirmation to help students, but also for his ability to really engage with students to create a life plan.”

Beyond this, his work inside the classroom and beyond enable and support the undergraduate research process, serving as a skilled teacher and guide in professionalization. As Mikaela Trussell writes, “He has given me the opportunity to dive into research as an undergrad and is always an excellent resource for any questions I have about research or graduate school. He values all of his students and makes it known that he wants us all to reach our fullest research potential.”

Dr. Stuart is a professor in psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. He received a PhD from Indiana University and serves on numerous academic councils and editorial boards. His current research focuses on etiology, prevention, and treatment of intimate partner violence, relationship distress, and addictions.

Jon Hathaway named Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for the Tickle College of Engineering

Congratulations to Dr. Jon Hathaway, one of 2018’s winners of the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award.

Multiple students credit Hathaway in particular for making the transition into civil and environmental engineering from other majors a less daunting process, even with no background experience in the subject area. For instance, Matthew Howard tells of how “as a sophomore, I switched majors . . . and Dr. Hathaway was assigned as my faculty mentor. To get my bearings in the department, I scheduled a meeting with him. By the time I left the meeting, he had offered me a research position and left a permanent impression on me,” and from there, how he grew from a student with no professional experience to a contributing member of a highly functioning research group, primarily due to Hathaway’s guidance and support: “Be it academic advising, career advice, or general life questions, Dr. Hathaway has been accessible as a mentor.”

Hathaway is also known for providing a wonderful model of being personally engaging and friendly without sacrificing professionalism. Hathaway’s research into environmental and community stewardship is clearly reflected in his leadership of undergraduate researchers. As Sierra Sims writes, “All the students under him respect him and all the students in his classes want to work with him.”

Dr. Hathaway is an assistant professor in the civil and environmental engineering department. He received his PhD from North Carolina State University, and has in the past worked in ecological design and consulting. His research studies sustainable urban water, green infrastructure, anthropogenic influences on the environment, and urban pollutant fate and transport.

Erin Darby named 1 of 3 Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year for the College of Arts & Sciences

Congratulations to Dr. Erin Darby, one of 2018’s winners of the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award.

Darby goes far beyond the typical expectations of a professor to seek out opportunities to benefit students’ growth and success. Moreover, the opportunities she finds for her students are noted for their concern for the students’ interests. Emily Liske describes Darby’s willingness to redesign an unavailable course as an independent study tailored to Liske’s personal research. As she writes, “She worked with me to hone my paper into one of a caliber I didn’t think I could produce, and she didn’t stop there. Dr. Darby encouraged me to submit my work for conferences and awards, and she even accompanied me to my presentation at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion (SECSOR), where she was my biggest cheerleader when I won the Undergraduate Research Award.” Similarly, Gayatri Nandwani tells of how, when initial research abroad plans fell through due to safety issues, Darby provided the chance to conduct research alongside her at the ‘Ayn Gharandal dig site in Jordan.

Darby’s contributions aren’t limited to such grand gestures though, as she consistently supports her students throughout their educations, on both a personal and professional level, providing emotional motivation as well as guidance in the presentation of work to scholarly audiences. As Nandwani says, “She has taught me life lessons that I would not have learned in a classroom and has showed me that there will be hurdles.”

Dr. Darby is an assistant professor in the religious studies department, and she co-directs the ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project in Jordan. She received her PhD from Duke University. She is an expert in the Hebrew Bible, ancient Near Eastern history, literature, and archaeology, and her research was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 2016.


Sunha Choi named Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for the College of Social Work

Congratulations to Dr. Sunha Choi, one of 2018’s winners of the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award, her second year in a row receiving this recognition!

Choi motivates her students to engage in research, often providing the initial spark for those with no prior research experience. One student, Abbey Geater, describes how “undergraduate research, to me, always seemed like something out of the ordinary that was reserved for Haslam Scholars or students who entered the university knowing they wanted to be a researcher” until learning and being inspired by Choi’s guidance: “Through Dr. Choi’s mentorship, I have broadened my scope on what undergraduate research looks like and become confident in my own abilities to integrate research into practice. Often at field, I find myself collecting more data or looking up the latest research on issues that affect my clients because Dr. Choi has shown me that social workers are not just practitioners, but scholars as well.”

Other students similarly describe the confidence gained from her guidance. As Sarah Henson writes, “She has been very empowering and encouraging as she has guided me individually and helped me to focus, be realistic, and maintain excitement for my project.” Moreover, students praise her ability to explain complex programs and processes, such as Excel, SPSS, or IRB forms and project proposals.

Choi helps her students across all stages of academic work, exposing them to the nature of undergraduate research, supporting them throughout the research process, and offering guidance on how to present, share, and build on completed work. Her supportive mentorship, which goes beyond the classroom, has shaped the post-undergraduate goals of her students.

Dr. Choi is an assistant professor and Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar in the College of Social Work. She received her MSW and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research studies healthcare disparities amongst older, foreign-born individuals.

Research Week Concludes with EURēCA Awards Night

The 22nd Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA) took place April 16–20 at the John C. Hodges Library. Students from across the university entered their undergraduate research, senior design projects, clinical projects, and creative achievements for judging. Over 800 students presented 626 projects. 99 projects received recognition at the EURēCA Awards night. Read more

Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Recipients 2018

Student Name Faculty Mentor Department
Anderson, Hannah Brown, Mary College of Nursing
Buck, Evan J Derryberry, Elizabeth Ecol & Evolut Biology
Carcello, Karen McLennon, Susan College of Nursing
Carter, Caroline Tourville, Jennifer College of Nursing
Cate, James Zhao, Xiaopeng Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Cecil, Katherine Grace Willcox, Emma Forestry, Wildlife/Fisheries
Donoghue, Mallory Sacco, Lynn History
Ellington, Ainsley Kavanagh, Katie Nutrition
Emerson, Sabrina and

Schwerzler, Amy

Rawn, Claudia Materials Science & Engr
Gable, Emily TerMaath, Stephanie Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Gillchrest, Arden Kalas, Gregor School of Architecture
Goodwill, Margaret Sacco, Lynn History
Gore, Lee Blum, Michael Ecol & Evolut Biology
Hale, Clayton Buckley, David Forestry, Wildlife & Fish
Hudson, Meredith Myers, Carole College of Nursing
Ingling, Benjamin TerMaath, Stephanie Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Jernigan, Nickolas Variego, Jorge Music
Joyce. Avie Hurt, Maria College of Nursing
Kight, David TerMaath, Stephanie Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Kirkpatrick, William Sheldon, Kimberly Ecology/Evolutionary Biology
Lamb, Kathryn Davis, Thomas K School of Architecture
Law, Helen Matheny, P Brandon Ecol & Evolut Biology
Light, Nathan Darby, Erin Religious Studies
Loewen, Annie Cooper, Matthew Psychology
Metts, Dailee Blum, Michael Ecol & Evolut Biology
Miller, Andrew Reinbolt, Jeff Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Mitchell, Mary Johnson, Jeremiah Microbiology
Orzechowski III, Edward TerMaath, Stephanie Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Ottinger, Sarah Stier, John Plant and Soil Sciences
Preston, Micaela D’Souza, Doris Food Science and Technology
Ricketts, Amanda Seamster, Louise Sociology
Riggins, Jordan McLennon, Susan College of Nursing
Rolen, Alyssa Steeves, Betsy Nutrition
Romanoski, Gabriella McCarthy, Jillian Audiology/Speech Pathology
Schumacher, Stefanie Hurt, Maria College of Nursing
Simms, Jessica Palmer, David Philosophy
Tannehill, Ashlee Krishnan, Keerthi Biochem/Cell & Molec Biol
Tate, Morgan Grant, Jerome Entomology & Plant Patho
Tripp, Alexander Pacelle Jr, Richard Political Science
Vuong, Richard Park, Jae Biochem/Cell & Molec Biol
Waddell, Bennett Liu, Jian Physics
Waksmunski, Christian TerMaath, Stephanie Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Winter, Heather Voy, Brynn Animal Science-Exp Sta
Woodard, Carl TerMaath, Stephanie Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr
Wright, David Reed, Julie History
Yu, Jinxiao Zhao, Xiaopeng Mech, Aero & Biomed Engr

Nine Students to be Feted as UT’s Torchbearers at Annual Honors Banquet

Nine seniors have been recognized for their academic achievement, leadership, and outstanding service with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s highest student honor—the Torchbearer award.

Each student learned of their selection through a surprise visit or call from Chancellor Beverly Davenport in recent weeks. They will receive a Torchbearer medal during the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet on Tuesday, April 17. The event is the university’s largest recognition event of the year.

UT Student to Present Research at the 22nd Annual Posters on the Hill

Every year, 60 students present their undergraduate research on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. This year, UT junior Taylor Payne will be among them as she presents her research project Neurological Disease Detection Using Laser Technology.

Taylor Payne will be showing off her student research during Posters on the Hill in Washington D.C. later this month...Photos by Erik Campos..41230

Taylor Payne

Posters on the Hill is a national conference that will take place April 17–18. The conference allows lawmakers to see college students from all over the country present their research projects.

Payne is the fourth UT student in the past four years to have a project accepted for Posters on the Hill. She is one of more than 2,000 UT undergraduates who participated in research and creative activities during the past year. That number increases every year, due in part to an increasing number of initiatives available to students.

While in Washington, Payne and her faculty mentor, Bhavya Sharma, an assistant professor of chemistry, will meet with US Representative Phil Roe, as well as the staff of US Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.
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