Professional News

2020 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award Winners Announced

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 27, 2020) — Four university faculty members received the University of Kentucky 2020 Excellent Undergraduate Research Mentor Award during the 14th annual Virtual Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars. This student-nominated award recognizes UK faculty members who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate researchers, providing exceptional undergraduate research experiences, as well as supporting and promoting the undergraduate research initiatives on campus.

A record 31 faculty mentors were nominated for the award by their students.

This year’s award winners are:

Catherine Linnen, College of Arts and Sciences

  • “Dr. Linnen demonstrates a commitment to mentoring her students in more ways than I can list. She is an excellent professional mentor; overseeing student's projects closely, providing them with career advice, and helping them to develop top-notch research skills. She understands when her students are stressed or overwhelmed and always prioritizes our mental health. The lab environment she creates is both productive and supportive." - nomination from Abby Hillman

Jeramiah Smith, College of Arts and Sciences

  • "As an undergraduate, research is an important priority for many, but classes are of greater importance especially when applying for medical school. Dr. Smith truly understands this and will never force research to come before studies. He encourages his students to be innovative but also work within what is possible given their schedules. Dr. Smith deserves this award due to his commitment to allowing and encouraging undergraduates to become not only proficient researchers, but also dedicated students." - nomination from Claire Scott

Sarah D’Orazio, College of Medicine

  • "Dr. D'Orazio has been the best mentor I could have asked for in my time as an undergraduate. Dr. D'Orazio deserves this prestigious award because she has dedicated countless hours to mentoring and helping undergraduates explore the amazingly vast world of research and diversity of projects one can have if they maintain their interest after learning valuable research techniques, even as a freshman. She has been more than just a mentor in learning the inner workings of research, she has been a role model to her students as a very successful scientist and woman in STEM." - nomination from Katie Alexander

Julie PendergastCollege of Arts and Sciences (Honorable Mention)

  • "Working with Dr. Pendergast is a pleasure, as our lab benefits from her dedication, passion, and attention to detail. She believes that in order for an undergrad to maximize their experience as a researcher, they must play a significant role in an independent research project after sufficient training. She gives her undergraduate students the perfect balance between independence and preparedness. Dr. Pendergast and her hard work serve as an inspiration to me every day. Her dedication to undergrads is exemplified in every aspect of her mentorship. Whether it is her speedy reply to emails or her caring nature toward our success, she is very deserving of this prestigious reward as an inspiring and influential undergraduate research mentor." - nomination from Sasha Sairajeev

For a full list of previous award winners, click here.  

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.