UC Riverside Academic Senate

Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research

The Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research is given annually to two graduating seniors who have conducted outstanding research or creative work and to two faculty members with a distinguished record of fostering undergraduate research or creative activity.

2011 – 12 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research Recipients

David Kisailus

David Kisailus

David Kisailus
Chemical and Environmental Engineering

In his five short years at U.C. Riverside, Professor Kisailus has mentored an astonishing fifty-six students in a broad range of research areas, almost two thirds of them from groups underrepresented in the sciences or economically disadvantaged. Eight of his mentees have been coauthors on ten different publications; twenty-six have presented at regional or national conferences; eleven have won grants from UCR for their research proposals; and twenty-one have gone on to graduate or professional study. His student nominees praise him for ensuring that they participate as full members of his research team, as one says, with “a level of independence rarely seen in other laboratories,” though he also takes time to discuss their work with them separately from his graduate students and collaborators from corporations or other universities. They also note that he helps them develop their public speaking skills, “as important as the technical content learned,” and are especially excited about their involvement in his outreach work at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and in local middle-schools, where they are able to mentor students themselves. One student nominator says that work has caught the attention of the San Diego Zoo, which is considering implementing a similar program with school children.

Dimitrios Morikis

Dimitrios Morikis

Dimitrios Morikis

During his years at UCR, Professor Morikis has always made the development of undergraduate researchers a priority, despite the fact that “mentoring is a lot of work,” as one former undergraduate said in her nominating letter, because he takes the time to meet with students individually and not just with their research groups. He has mentored two dozen undergraduate researchers and three senior design project students from a range of majors, including one from CHASS and some from other universities, about two thirds of them from underrepresented groups or economically disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom have gone on to graduate study, some with prestigious NSF fellowships. “No one has ever treated the undergraduates like they were doing the ‘dirty’ work so they could earn a place at the table,” one of his student nominators notes. Not only do the undergraduates make important contributions to his lab, they also present their findings publically with remarkable frequency thanks to Professor Morikis’s hands-on mentoring: thirty-seven have published abstracts or papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the UCR Undergraduate Research Journal Professor Morikis co-founded in 2007, and twenty-three have presented at regional and national conferences. A third of them have been first authors, and one even had his paper in a prominent journal featured on the cover.




Barbara Davis

Cell Biology

Though she has two young children, Barbara Davis, a Cell Biology major, has made key contributions to cutting-edge research on nicotine at the Stem Cell Center while maintaining a near perfect GPA. Since winter 2011, she not only mastered the difficulties of culturing stem cells, she also developed a protocol for quantifying nicotine on a lab instrument that had not been used in some years, which she repaired and became the lab expert on, deploying it with a team of two other undergraduates she led, a job not usually entrusted to an undergraduate. Her findings have been reported in three papers, two for which she is second author, having provided two figures for each, and a third that is still being drafted and for which she is first author. She also has participated in UCR’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. “She is mature, she is smart, she is a leader, she is a real scientist,” one of her nominating faculty writes, describing her as one of the top two students she has had in 35 years.

Michelle Lin

Creative Writing

Despite the fact that English is not Michelle Lin’s native tongue, she has more than mastered it, as her high GPA, two prizes from the Creative Writing Department, and poetry publications in Every Day Poets, Rufous City Review, and numerous other small literary magazines testify. Her nominators describe her as a “lyric poet with a social conscience” who takes emotional risks in her work yet consistently produces lucid, accomplished, and compelling poems. “She is exceptional as a poet and a scholar, as a person and as an intellect. She is the real thing,” writes one of them. She has served as poetry editor and editor in chief of Mosaic, UCR’s literary journal, and as a Gluck Fellow has organized and hosted open mic events in the city, as well as fiction and poetry workshops. She also has taught poetry and art to low income eight and nine year olds in a summer LEAPS program in Alameda, which was so successful that a local news network reported on it, and is currently at work with theater artists on a multimedia event that similarly reflects her commitment to social justice.

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