CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award 2019


Suzanne O'Handley, Rochester Institute of Technology


Suzanne O'Handley

Suzanne O’Handley, associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Materials Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), has been selected as the 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee. The award, which consists of a plaque and $5000 for the awardee’s research program and/or undergraduate researchers, will be presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Kennesaw State University in April.

Selected from 10 finalists, O’Handley was recognized for her considerable achievements as a dynamic scholar, teacher, and mentor to numerous undergraduates who have garnered grants, fellowships, admission to distinguished graduate and professional programs, publication and presentation opportunities for their research, and success in the workplace. O’Handley earned her BS in chemistry cum laude from Cook College, Rutgers University, and her PhD in biophysical chemistry from University of Rochester. With previous positions at University at Albany-SUNY, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and University of Richmond, she has administered major grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and other scientific organizations. Her honors include the RIT COS Outstanding Mentoring Award.

Said John Mateja, president of the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, “Dr. O’Handley’s outstanding record mentoring six students who were named Goldwater Scholars, her 15 years of service as Rochester Institute of Technology’s Goldwater campus representative, and her involvement of 65 undergraduates in research in her laboratory made her the consensus choice of the CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award selection committee for the 2019 award.” Mateja also noted that, prior to O’Handley assuming the campus representative position at RIT, the institution had one Goldwater Scholar and no honorable mentions. Under O’Handley’s leadership, RIT has had 28 Goldwater Scholars and seven honorable mentions. Mateja sees substantial effects from O’Handley’s mentoring for “RIT students, many of whom who went on to attain advanced degrees; for RIT’s academic program; and for the nation, because of the number of her students now pursuing research careers in the sciences.”

Stated CUR Executive Officer Elizabeth L. Ambos, “Dr. O’Handley’s multi-decade commitment to and passion for mentoring undergraduate researchers at RIT has resulted in tremendous success for her students and impressive research productivity, as measured by significant publications and grant acquisitions.”

Said RIT’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Granberg, “Dr. Suzanne O’Handley is an exceptional leader and mentor, and I’m thrilled that she’s the recipient of the 2019 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award. Under Dr. O’Handley’s guidance, she has encouraged scholars to find new and meaningful ways to move the world forward. Her commitment to excellence has made a positive impact on our university. At RIT, we pride ourselves on being an incubator for the exceptional and the fruits of Dr. O’Handley’s mentoring are truly an example of that.”

Said O’Handley, “It is such an honor to be recognized for the two things that have been most important to me in my career: mentoring of my undergraduate (and master’s) research students, and initiating and running the RIT Goldwater Scholars program. I hope to use this recognition to continue to advocate for undergraduate research, mentoring, and fellowships. Sharing my excitement about science, exploration, and discovery, and helping students take advantage of opportunities to reach their full potential have been a major focus of my career.”

Past recipients of the CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award include Francis Connolly (University of Notre Dame), the late Bruce Jackson (Mass Bay Community College), Carol Parish (University of Richmond), David Peak (Utah State University), and Julio Ramirez (Davidson College).

CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award 2018


David Peak, Utah State University


David Peak

David Peak, professor of physics at Utah State University, has been selected as the 2018 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Awardee. The award, which consists of a plaque and $5000 for the awardee’s research program and/or undergraduate researchers, will be presented at the Biennial Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, on July 1–3.

Selected from 10 finalists, Peak was recognized for his achievements as a research leader, as well as a productive scholar, teacher, mentor, and adviser to 33 undergraduates who have received 36 Goldwater scholarships and honorable mentions. A cofounder of the CUR Physics and Astronomy Division, he also was an early leader of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and established an endowment at Utah State University to support undergraduate researchers and honor outstanding faculty mentors. Peak’s honors include the 2009 Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

“The foundation is pleased to partner with CUR to celebrate faculty mentors who have helped their students achieve one of the most prized awards an undergraduate majoring in science, engineering, and mathematics can achieve---a Goldwater scholarship or honorable mention,” said John Mateja, president of the Goldwater Foundation. “David Peak is an exceptional undergraduate research mentor, his educational leadership at the national level is longstanding, and he sets a high standard to which all of us should aspire.”

Said CUR Executive Officer Elizabeth L. Ambos, “As an outstanding physicist, teacher-scholar, and highly effective mentor, David Peak has nurtured the careers of hundreds of students through activities such as his scholarship 'boot camp.' His wider contributions to undergraduate research programs at Utah State University, as well as the Council on Undergraduate Research, mark him as a foremost innovator within the undergraduate research movement.”

Said USU President Noelle Cockett, “Utah State University is thrilled David Peak is receiving this well-deserved national honor. Professor Peak has tirelessly mentored undergraduate researchers throughout the university and guided them in successfully competing for prestigious national scholarships and recognition. He epitomizes the aims of our land-grant mission in providing world-class learning opportunities for our students.”

Said Peak, “I established a boot camp for training Goldwater Scholar applicants, in part, because I enjoy interacting with bright, incipient scientists and engineers. But, as a land-grant university professor, I also feel I should assist my state’s citizens to gain equal access to opportunities available at better-known, more expensive, universities. Accordingly, many of my boot campers are first-generation college students from rural, agricultural backgrounds. Many initially have no idea what a creative and scholarly career might entail. My passion is to light in them the fire to pursue such a life.”

CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award 2017


Julio Ramirez, Davidson College


Julio Ramirez

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) were pleased to present Dr. Julio J. Ramirez, R. Stuart Dickson Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Davidson College (NC), with the 2017 CUR Goldwater Scholar Faculty Mentor Award. Dr. Ramirez’s achievements as a neuroscience research leader, productive scholar, teacher, innovative leader in his professional societies and personal mentor to 10 Davidson College Goldwater recipients, set him apart from other nominees for the recognition. The award, which consists of a plaque and $5,000 to be used to support the awardee’s research program and/or undergraduate research students, was presented to Dr. Ramirez on April 7, 2017, at a special reception during CUR’s National Conference on Undergraduate Research at the University of Memphis.

In her nomination letter, Davidson’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Wendy Raymond, profiled Dr. Ramirez’s many achievements, including the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring awarded to him by President Obama and Davidson’s highest accolade for teaching, the 2012 Hunter-Hamilton Love of Teaching Award, noting that Ramirez had mentored over 140 Davidson undergraduates, over 50% of whom are from groups underrepresented in the sciences. Davidson’s President Carol Quillen described Ramirez’ research in neuroplasticity as “life-changing” and work that “engages his students as collaborators, offering them an unparalleled opportunity for discovery.”

Julio Ramirez

As part of her remarks at the reception, CUR’s Executive Officer, Beth Ambos, noted that Dr. Ramirez’s students wrote compelling letters and credited him with much of their success. Among the quotes read by Ambos were “Dr. Ramirez’s support for me has not ceased, continuing from the beginning of graduate school to my doctoral dissertation defense…. Dr. Julio Ramirez’s support has influenced my life more than any other mentor has and shaped my career in ways that I couldn’t have imagined…. As a mentor, Dr. Ramirez pushed me to achieve more than I thought possible, encouraged me to pursue challenging goals, valued my opinion as a colleague, and guided me on my journey to becoming a scientist….”

“The Goldwater Foundation is pleased to be partnering with CUR to celebrate teaching and mentoring excellence like that exhibited by Davidson College’s Dr. Ramirez,” said Dr. John Mateja, President of the Goldwater Foundation. “For students who are fortunate enough to encounter and work with him, Dr. Ramirez is a guiding light for them into graduate school and throughout their professional careers. He is a model for all of us who work with students.”

Said Ramirez, “My passion for seeing students get excited about the scientific process and achieve success in their pursuit of further education remains unabated, and I look forward to continuing to have a role in transforming students’ lives and opening doors to a productive future.”

CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award 2016


Carol Parish, University of Richmond


Carol Parrish

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation presented Dr. Carol Parish, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Richmond, the 2016 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award on June 27, 2016 at CUR’s biennial conference at the University of South Florida.

Dr. Parish's accomplishments over the last two decades are truly remarkable- she has been a collaborative and highly productive research leader, prolific scholar, and teacher, in addition to a personal mentor to eight University of Richmond undergraduate students who have achieved Goldwater Scholar awards. “I’m so pleased that Carol’s significant engagement with our undergraduate students is being honored by this award,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jacque Fetrow. “This recognition reflects powerfully a key priority that distinguishes all faculty at the University of Richmond; a deep, personal and abiding commitment to students, including providing meaningful opportunities for them to participate in important and sometimes groundbreaking research.”

Elizabeth Ambos, Executive Officer for the Council on Undergraduate Research states: “Dr. Parish (Carol) is a sterling example of an academic leader who not only promotes the research success of her high-achieving students, but has also created a research “ecosystem” at the University or Richmond and other institutions, involving more than thirty computational chemistry faculty colleagues serving as visiting scholars and/or research collaborators with her students. Carol’s career has been marked by publication of a series of well-regarded papers in highly-ranked peer-reviewed journals, and the garnering of close to $2.5M in competitive research grant funding.”

In the last 15 years, her students have been responsible for more than 250 presentations at regional, national and international chemistry meetings. John Mateja, President of the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, notes, “Physical and computational chemistry are challenging subfields of chemistry. It is a remarkable that Carol has mentored 88 undergraduates in these subfields in the 19 years she has been on the faculty at the University of Richmond and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.” Mateja went on to say, “I was particularly pleased to see that many of her students worked with her for multiple years, that 47 have been women and 26 are from groups that are underrepresented in the sciences and that, in addition to the 8 Goldwater scholarships her students have won, they have also been selected for Gates, Fulbright, and Rhodes scholarships as well. It is clear from what her students and colleagues say about her that she is both an exceptional and knowledgeable teacher and mentor.”

CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award 2015


Bruce Jackson, MassBay Community College


Bruce Jackson

In recognition of the important roles that faculty mentors play in the success of Goldwater Scholars, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation presented Dr. Bruce Jackson, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science at MassBay Community College, the 2015 CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award on April 17, 2015 at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Eastern Washington University.

Dr. Jackson is a research leader, productive scholar, teacher, and personal mentor to the twenty MassBay Community College students who have achieved Goldwater Scholar awards. President John O’Donnell, MassBay Community College affirmed this stating, “This award is a testament to Bruce Jackson's tireless dedication to his students and to his work at MassBay to help develop and grow our renowned sciences and undergraduate research programs. In large part to Dr. Jackson's service, MassBay continues to produce a record number of Goldwater Scholars and provide deep and meaningful opportunities for scientific research to our students. MassBay Community College is extremely honored to accept this award on Dr. Jackson's behalf to help build future generations of scientists and scholars.”

A pioneer and advocate for high-quality and cutting-edge undergraduate research in a community college setting, Dr. Jackson has built a well-designed and developmentally-scaffolded program of undergraduate research for biotechnology students at MassBay, one that prepares students for both graduate study and Massachusetts’ thriving biotechnology industry. As Elizabeth Ambos, CUR’s Executive Officer notes: “Bruce Jackson exhibits pride and delight in his students’ research and career accomplishments, and is an inspirational model for faculty who seek to combine research and teaching.”

W. Franklin Gilmore, President of the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation, notes “I have known Dr. Jackson for many years having served with him on the independent panel that reviews applications for Barry Goldwater Scholarships. Bruce is a true champion for undergraduate research and especially undergraduate research as a teaching method in two-year colleges and community colleges. I have visited the facilities where he has mentored students for more than twenty years. His facilities are excellent for undergraduate research and he has personally mentored the twenty Barry Goldwater Scholars from his institution. This number is the record for the number of scholarships awarded to students at a community college.”

CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award 2014


Frank Connolly, University of Notre Dame


Francis Connolly

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation presented Dr. Francis Connolly, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at University of Notre Dame, the inaugural CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor Award. The award was presented to Connolly on June 30th, 2014 at the closing banquet of the 2014 CUR Conference in Washington, DC. In addition to a plaque commemorating the award, the University of Notre Dame received a $5,000 award in support of the undergraduate research programs of Dr. Connolly and his colleagues in the Seminar for Undergraduate Mathematics Research (SUMR) program.

Inaugurated in recognition of the important roles that faculty mentors play in the success of Goldwater Scholars, the award is presented jointly by CUR and the Goldwater Foundation to acknowledge individual faculty who have made outstanding contributions to the success of undergraduate researchers who have gone on to be Goldwater Scholars. Drs. Elizabeth Ambos, CUR Executive Officer, and W. Franklin Gilmore, President of the Goldwater Foundation note that " Dr. Connolly’s achievements as a research leader, teacher, and personal mentor to thirteen of forty University of Notre Dame students who have achieved Goldwater Scholars’ awards are landmark successes."

Greg Crawford, dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, noted, "Frank Connolly is one of the most accomplished mathematicians who has devoted his life to developing undergraduates in mathematics. Under his direction, guidance and support, countless students achieved success and earned national fellowships, awards and scholarships such as the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. We are so pleased to see Frank receive this award."

"While we had many strong nominations for the CUR-Goldwater Scholars Faculty Mentor award, Frank Connolly’s nomination and work with undergraduates stood out among the 52 faculty who were nominated for the award," said Dr. John Mateja, Chair of the award selection committee. "In a field where many faculty would have said it was not possible, Dr. Connolly transformed novices into research mathematicians, changing the Notre Dame math department’s entire program and way of thinking about undergraduates in the process," Mateja went on to say. In addition to mentoring an impressive number of Goldwater winners, the SUMR program Connolly established has, since its inception in 1989, supported the work of 98 undergraduates, 46 of whom have won nationally competitive fellowships and 42 of whom have received PhDs in mathematically related sciences. At his retirement dinner last year, one of Frank’s former students paid him a tribute, the sense of which the committee found throughout his nomination materials. He said, "Frank’s most valuable quality as a teacher was believing in his students, even more than they believed in themselves."