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Nominate your Mentor for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards!

Each year, LSU Discover awards one faculty mentor with the Tiger Athletic Foundation/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. This award honors faculty who actively and effectively guide undergraduate researchers, helping them to move toward independent work, and encouraging them to publish or present their findings. The awardee will be honored at the annual Distinguished Faculty Awards ceremony and receive $2,000. Undergraduate students and alumni are welcome to submit nominations for any LSU faculty member.

 


 

Past Award Winners

Dr. Tabetha Boyajian

Dr. Tabetha Boyajian, College of Science, Physics and Astronomy

LSU Discover is proud to announce that the winner for the 2020 Tiger Athletic Foundation/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award is Dr. Tabetha Boyajian, professor of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Physics.

Tabetha “Tabby” Boyajian is an astrophysicist on faculty at Louisiana State University interested in the precise characterization of the stars nearest our Sun, with a particular focus on those that host exoplanets.  She also is a science team member of the Planet Hunters citizen science project, and the lead investigator behind the infamous star KIC 8462852, known as “Boyajian’s Star” in her honor.

 

Dr. Boyajian was nominated by undergraduate researchers Ian Sager and Madison LeBlanc.

Here is a selection of quotes from their nomination letters:


" Working with Dr. Boyajian has been a life changing experience. She’s helped me go from student to researcher, but more importantly, she’s made me actually feel like one. Many professors can give you the technical knowledge you need to grow into your profession, but it takes an amazing professor to make you truly feel like you belong in the field and deserve to be there. Dr. Boyajian has not only made me feel welcome in the field, but she’s made me feel valuable and important as a person too, something I’ve always struggled with. She’s shaped the outlook I have for my future more than any other person has. For all these reasons and more, I feel no professor deserves this award more than Dr. Boyajian."

– Ian Sager ’20


"Dr. Boyajian is different from any mentor that I have ever had before. She truly understands her own research and is remarkable at teaching. The most important aspect of Dr. Boyajian’s mentoring is her insistence that failure is normal. She asserts the importance of pushing through our failures, instead of being negative. Even when I am stuck, Dr. Boyajian finds the things that have been done correctly and then addresses the problems from a positive point of view. She understands if I or anyone else is under stress from other assignments and is adamant that we focus on classes first and work second. One of the most important qualities of Dr. Boyajian is her insistence that we are all adults and that no one is above another person. She maintains that her students call her anything from Tabby, to Dr. Tabby, to Dr. Boyajian. She is humble to the fullest extent and does not believe that she is above anyone. Dr. Boyajian has created a work environment that is always enjoyable to be apart of, and that I am so proud to be able to say that I am apart of."

– Madison LeBlanc ’20


Dr. Adam Melvin

Dr. Adam Melvin, College of Engineering, Chemical Engineering

LSU Discover is proud to announce that the winner for the 2019 Tiger Athletic Foundation/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award is Dr. Adam Melvin, professor of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering. 

Adam Melvin obtained a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from the University of Arizona in 2004, a MS in Chemical Engineering (with a minor in Biotechnology) and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University in 2010. He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Departments of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering from 2010-2013. In August of 2013, he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University. His research interests include biochemical/biomolecular engineering, biosensors, microfluidic devices, single cell analysis, personalized diagnostics, chemical biology, cancer metastasis, peptide inhibitors, algal migration, and novel teaching approaches including active learning, academic integrity, and flipped classrooms. He has several ongoing research projects that are funded by the NSF and NIH and was recently awarded an NSF CAREER award. He is also the co-director of an NSF-sponsored REU site at LSU combining entrepreneurship and energy research. During his time at LSU, Dr. Melvin has had the pleasuring of working with 9 graduate students, 41 undergraduate students, and 15 high school students on over 30 different projects.

 

Dr. Melvin was nominated by undergraduate researchers Joshua Campbell and Grant Landwehr.

Here is a selection of quotes from their nomination letters:


"Personally, [Dr.Melvin] has garnered an interest in me for conducting research by sharing his passion of learning and discovery and passing on his knowledge that he has gained from past research.  He exhibits all the qualities that a great mentor should: the knowledge necessary to move students forward, the encouragement to keep students involved, high expectations for students to perform accordingly, and most importantly the time required to go above and beyond what students need to be successful while conducting research. Dr. Melvin is very much appreciated by all the students who work for him in our lab, and his appreciation is certainly well deserved."

-Joshua Campbell ’19


"Although Dr. Melvin is responsible for a multitude of research projects, graduate students, undergraduate students, and teaching, he still finds a way to keep a high level of personal involvement in all of the projects while still allowing for autonomy and creative input from his students. An important aspect of Dr. Melvin’s interactions with his students is his availability to meet and discuss projects and his willingness to set aside time for us. Dr. Melvin entrusts his undergraduate students with projects with high levels of complexity, so communication plays a critical role in the success of these projects.  Thanks to Dr. Melvin’s guidance, [my] project has developed into one of the most rewarding experiences I have had while at LSU and has turned into a first author publication for me."

-Grant Landwehr ’18


Dr. Patrick DiMario

Dr. Patrick DiMario, College of Science, Biology

LSU Discover is proud to announce that the winner for the inaugural Tiger Athletic Foundation/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award is Dr. Patrick DiMario, professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Science.

Throughout his 22 years at LSU, Dr. DiMario has dedicated himself to his students – imparting his knowledge, providing guidance, and sharing his love of science and research with LSU’s undergraduate researchers. Since the fall of 1990, he has mentored 65 undergraduate research students, many of whom have gone on to careers in research and medicine. Dr. DiMario has mentored numerous local high school students who continued on as LSU undergraduate researchers. He has also co-authored a number of articles and presentations with undergraduates, encouraging his students to share their research.

Dr. DiMario’s own research is on molecular-cell biology of the nucleus. His lab, where you can find his undergraduate researchers, studies nucleolar function in ribosome biogenesis and the cellular stress responses that result when ribosome assembly is blocked (now called nucleolar stress). He and his group of student researchers study nucleolar stress in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to model various human ribosomopathies such as the Treacher Collins syndrome.

 

Dr. DiMario was nominated by the following current and former undergraduate researchers: Molly Lieux, Celine Jeha, Kathryn DeLeo, Carlie Melancon, and Alex Houser. In each of these student’s nomination letters they noted Dr. DiMario’s patience, enthusiasm, and exceptional ability to guide them through their research issues no matter how small or large.

Here is a selection of quotes from their nomination letters:


“His patience and ability to teach some of the most complex concepts in such simplistic ways is truly a gift to all of his students and undergraduate researchers. Not only do I feel he is all-knowing in cellular biology, but his humility and ability to relate to his students is instrumental in them developing a love for science as well.”

– Molly Lieux


“Instead of the undergraduates mainly cleaning the dishes and keeping the lab clean, Dr. DiMario gave me and many other undergraduates the chance to fall in love with research. He helped me begin my independent research when I barely understood what a cell was. He helped me understand all the concepts I needed to know by breaking down all the complicated concepts and mechanisms. He devotes endless hours helping me understand how the experiments work, what the results mean, and guiding me to the next step in my ongoing research.”

– Celine Jeha


“To maintain a collaborative environment, Dr. DiMario requires that we attend weekly lab meetings. At a typical lab meeting, everyone in the lab sits around a table to discuss the progress of their project. These lab meetings help me to understand my own project better and become familiar with more techniques used in the lab. While discussing troubleshooting of issues that have arisen, Dr. DiMario listens and responds to ideas providing guidance with our analysis and decision making. In this way, Dr. DiMario promotes undergraduate autonomy in design and solutions for a research project.”

– Kathryn DeLeo


“When I think about the progress we have made, I think of all the constructive conversations about results, techniques, and improvement we have had. For example, I remember looking at samples I had been preparing for weeks with absolutely devastating results. Dr. DiMario was not angry or disappointed. We went back to the lab and he sat down with me for over an hour teaching me how to perfect my technique. Furthermore, he assured me that any mistakes I made were normal and could be easily corrected. I wish I could share the countless other stories I have, as do other undergraduates in our lab.”

– Alex Houser


“It is motivating and inspiring to have a research mentor who is so proud of all of his students’ work. He often encourages us to sign up for presentations and poster competitions at LSU. DiMario is genuinely so supportive and helpful with preparing for the presentations. He makes sincere efforts to help us undergraduate students become better researchers, students, and professionals, and he supports all of his students to the fullest whether they choose a graduate path focused on research, healthcare, or any other interest. Not only does he support our decisions, he also prepares us with critical analysis skills needed for graduate school and real practice in any field.”

– Carlie Melancon