Awards for Mentoring Undergraduates In Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities

2024 Award Recipients

Image of Mentor Awards recipients at the 2024 Mentor Awards Ceremony at UW–Madison
Recipients of the 2024 Mentor Awards are pictured with Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning John Zumbrunnen at the Undergraduate Symposium's Mentor Awards Ceremony held in Varsity Hall (Union South, University of Wisconsin-Madison) on April 25, 2024. (Photo by Meredith McGlone / UW–Madison)

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Mou Banerjee, Assistant Professor, History

Mou Banerjee is an assistant professor of History and the founder-director of the Nonviolence Project (NVP) at UW-Madison. Dr. Banerjee has mentored over 23 undergraduate students at the NVP and many more as advisees and students for her undergraduate classes in the past 5 years. Dr. Banerjee believes that education is a practice of resistance against injustice and it is also a practice of freedom – for the self and the world. That is the core of her mentoring ideology. She focuses on helping her students develop their own unique interests in historical research. Many of her undergraduate mentees work with her from the time that they are freshmen to graduation, and create longstanding mentoring relationships that continue beyond their time at UW-Madison.

Ellie Breitfeld, Graduate Student, Psychology

Ellie is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology studying how infants and toddlers learn language. Ellie has had the privilege of mentoring undergraduate students at all stages of their academic careers and across many different programs at UW-Madison including URS, LASER, L&S Honors Sophomore Summer Research Apprenticeship, and Honors Thesis students. Ellie’s mentoring style prioritizes getting to know each of her students on a personal level, allowing her to individualize her mentoring approach to each of her students’ unique interests and needs. As a mentor, Ellie strives to support her students’ growth not only as curious researchers, passionate scientists, and critical thinkers, but also as collaborative and confident individuals.

Eren Fukuda, Graduate Student, Psychology

Eren Fukuda is a 5th year PhD student in the Department of Psychology, and she studies how young children think about social categories such as race and gender. Eren has mentored over 30 undergraduate students at UW-Madison thus far, including senior thesis students. Her mentoring philosophy centers around fostering a welcoming environment and empowering students. As an Asian woman and an international student at UW-Madison, Eren recognizes the power of inclusive and empathetic mentorship to encourage students to bring their perspectives and lived experiences to the academic space.

Pupa Gilbert, Professor, Department of Physics

Pupa Gilbert is a Professor in the Department of Physics. Pupa is enthusiastic about research in marine biomineralization, undergraduate mentoring, and teaching Physics in the Arts. She mentored more than 70 undergraduate students, including 46 “Cnidarians,” a diverse group she assembled in 2020 to do massively parallel data processing of the same data, to improve the results quality and robustness of the data and including the Cnidarians as coauthors of her peer-reviewed publications. Diversity is our strength. The idea of massively parallel data processing by a diverse group is generalizable. It can be exported to any other method or software, with any degree of complexity in data processing, and involving any kind of decision making.

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke, Professor, English

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of English where she is continually delighted by the passion, creativity, and follow-through of the undergraduate students she works with through independent studies, HEX-U fellowships, and paid hourly research positions. Much of this mentoring has grown as a natural extension of her community-based learning courses, taught in partnership with watershed-focused nonprofits in southwestern Wisconsin, as students are eager to continue their work beyond the semester. Gottschalk Druschke’s goal is always to meet each student where they are, to learn what they are eager to try and test and accomplish, and to create the conditions for them to do meaningful work to grow in the ways they hope to grow. 

Pauline Ho, Graduate Student, Educational Psychology

Pauline is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology. As a first-generation, low-income college student, an immigrant, and an English learner, Pauline has greatly benefited from solid mentorship, and she is dedicated to paying it forward. During her time at UW Madison, she has mentored over 20 undergraduate students, in addition to graduate students. Through her role as a mentor, Pauline strives to empower students, help them realize their full potential, and provide them with the guidance and encouragement they need to achieve their academic and personal goals.

Alyse Maksimoski, Postdoctoral Researcher, Integrative Biology

Alyse Maksimoski is a postdoctoral researcher in the Integrative Biology Department who has mentored nine undergraduate researchers in their career and has twice been a mentor for the Biological Interactions Summer Research Program. Alyse views mentorship as an incredibly important undertaking that trains the next generation of scientists and instills a sense of belonging for undergraduates. She strongly believes that mentorship is a bi-directional relationship where we learn just as much from our mentees as they learn from us.

Daniel Pearce, Graduate Student, Biomedical Engineering

Daniel is a PhD candidate in the Cardiovascular Biomechanics Lab, housed in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He enjoys mentoring and training more than any other aspect of his work, resulting in a track record of conference abstracts, paper authorships, and desired professional outcomes for his mentees. A quote from a mentee best summarizes his mentoring efforts: “Daniel has consistently been a supportive presence, always offering encouragement and camaraderie. He makes this big campus feel smaller, and makes his students feel like they belong.”

Michael Sheets, Professor, Biomolecular Chemistry

Michael Sheets is Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry, whose research lies at the interface of RNA-protein biochemistry and developmental biology. He believes that successful mentoring goes beyond simple encouragement, necessitating one-on-one interactions to grasp each student’s unique set of strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. This allows Dr. Sheets to guide students in exploring their specific interests and passions within the laboratory as they perform their experiments. Additionally, Dr. Sheets cultivates a mindset that recognizes failure as an inherent aspect of growth and a source of valuable learning experiences. This perspective empowers students to approach the challenges they face in their experiments with resilience and determination.

Manish Tiwari, Postdoctoral Researcher, Bacteriology

Manish has mentored thirteen undergraduate students and one research intern within two years of his postdoc tenure at the Department of Bacteriology. Manish shares his expectations with mentees, and in turn, he asks them to share their expectations and goals for their research experience. He goes beyond the lab, organizing get-togethers to understand each mentee’s background and seeking their input to customize his training methods, ensuring they benefit each undergraduate student. A hallmark of Manish’s mentoring style is offering several project options to undergraduates, allowing them to choose projects aligned with their interests to enhance their engagement and encourage ownership and independence in their work. 

Award Nomination Details

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  • UW–Madison faculty members, groups of mentors, academic staff, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students are eligible
  • Nominees should have (or recently have had) responsibility for mentoring and working closely with UW–Madison undergraduate students in an independent learning environment
  • Nominees can come from any discipline as long as they mentor undergraduates in a scholarly activity
  • Nominees regularly exhibit several of the actions and attributes listed below in the “Nominee Info” section

Nominee Info

The following are examples of actions and attributes of potential nominees:

  • Successfully learn about and integrate the needs of the undergraduate scholar into their work
  • Support the undergraduate in their academic success beyond the shared scholarship experience – for example, have meaningful interactions related to professional development, beyond the scope of the student’s project responsibilities, and actively support the undergraduate’s academic and career aspirations
  • Provide access and support in helping the undergraduate present, perform and/or publish their project in a professional setting
  • Maintain high expectations for undergraduate work and provide the undergraduate with a high level of support
  • View teaching as integral to mentoring
  • Give students autonomy and support in asking and exploring new questions
  • Have a consistent track record of successful outcomes for undergraduates from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., presentation at professional conferences, publication, admission to graduate/professional school, etc.)
  • Maintain active and continued mentorship after the students leave the group (e.g., keep in touch and support students as they move through their careers)

How to Nominate

  • One-page letter from the nominee’s department chair or unit director making or endorsing the nomination that describes the nominee’s approach to mentoring and highlights how the nominee demonstrates several of the actions and attributes outlined in the “Nominee Info” section above
  • A minimum of one letter of support (maximum of 5 letters) from an undergraduate mentee describing how the nominee regularly demonstrates several of the actions and attributes outlined in the “Nominee Info” section
  • One letter of support from a colleague, supervisor or outside organization who can speak to the nominee’s demonstration of several of the actions and attributes outlined in the “Nominee Info” section, as well as the nominee’s mentoring philosophy
  • Short CV (1-2 pages) of the nominee

Applications should be assembled into a single PDF document and submitted via this Google Form.

Nominate a Mentor

Nomination Deadline: Friday, March 1, 2024