Baylor Undergraduates and Faculty Mentors Honored for Outstanding Research Projects Presented During URSA Scholars Week

May 3, 2018

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
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WACO, Texas (May 3, 2018) – More than 100 Baylor University students were honored recently for their outstanding research presented in March during the 10th annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) program's Scholars Week. The undergraduate researchers, along with their faculty mentors and program leaders, received awards for outstanding platform and poster presentations and for significant contributions to URSA and Scholars Week at a reception April 19 on the Baylor campus.

"The quality and quantity of undergrad research has grown steadily in the decade since we initiated the URSA program in 2008," said Susan Bratton, Ph.D., professor of environmental science and director of URSA. "During the first undergraduate Scholars Week, students submitted 31 poster abstracts. This year there were 143 submissions. We have nearly a fivefold increase in poster presentations."

A panel of faculty and staff judged the student poster presentations, as well as 64 platform presentations. A full list of student award winners is available here. In addition, URSA Leadership Awards were presented to:

• Sinda Vanderpool, Ph.D., associate vice provost for academic enrollment management in the Office of the Provost and the Paul Foster Success Center
• Rizalia Klausmeyer, Ph.D., senior lecturer, program director of the Science Living and Learning Center, director of the Science Research Fellows program in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences,
• Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology (BURST) URSA officers and events committee members Courtney Smith, William Chan, Jianna Lin, Paul Early, Zachary Pranske, Grace Kohn, Kiersten Scott and Emily Ziperman and URSA advisors Tamarah Adair, Ph.D., Bratton and Brian Raines, Ph.D.
• Baylor Undergraduates @ The Veterans Administration Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, including Baylor faculty members Sara Dolan, Ph.D., Paul Fillmore, Ph.D., and Richard Sanker, Ph.D., and from the Veterans Administration VISN 17 Center of Excellence: Dr. Richard Seim, Dr. Laura Zambrano-Vazquez, Dr. Justin Benzer, Dr. Bryann DeBeer, Dr. Sheila Frankfurt, Dr. Evan Gordon, Dr. Rakeshwar Guleria, Dr. Geoffrey May, Dr. Eric Meyer, Dr. Joseph Mignogna, Dr. Steven Nelson and Dr. Yvette Szabo.

Three faculty members were recognized as 2018 Mentors of the Year for their roles mentoring students and their research.
• Mikeal Parsons, Ph.D., professor and Macon Chair in Religion
• Melanie Sekeres, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience
• Karen Melton, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and consumer sciences

"Research supervisors include permanent faculty of all ranks," Bratton said. "Many early career faculty are cultivating mentoring skills. One of our mentors of the year for 2018 is a very seasoned religion professor, Dr. Parsons, and the other two are upcoming researchers, Dr. Sekeres from psychology and neurobiology and Dr. Melton from family and consumer sciences."

Students across all disciplines were honored with outstanding poster presentation awards. All 64 platform presentations were judged by a panel of faculty and staff, and numerous winners were announced at the award ceremony.

URSA Scholars Week is sponsored by the Baylor Office of Vice Provost for Research. For more information, visit the URSA website.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) assists faculty members from all academic units in identifying, obtaining and managing the funding needed to support their research and scholarship. Internal 'seed' funding, matching grant proposal funding, searchable online funding databases, grant writing seminars, proposal support and travel awards to national funding agencies are only a portion of what is provided by the various units comprising the OVPR. Additionally, the Vice Provost for Research oversees the ethical conduct of research and assists researchers in maintaining compliance with applicable policies, laws, and regulations as well as providing support in establishing interdisciplinary / international collaborations and industry partnerships.

The OVPR acts as Baylor's representative in pursuing partnerships and collaborative agreements with entities outside the university. The office negotiates sponsored research agreements with industry on behalf of faculty and pursues research, technology transfer, and the commercialization of technology. The OVPR welcomes the opportunity to discuss collaborative research and scholarship pursuits that can advance the academic mission of Baylor University to achieve R1/T1 status.

The OVPR also manages and operates the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a three-story, 330,000-square-foot facility focused on interdisciplinary/international research, industry/university collaborations, business incubation/acceleration/commercialization, advanced workforce training, and STEM educational research and outreach.
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