LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 14, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research recently awarded four faculty members for their exemplary commitment to undergraduate research mentoring.

"Undergraduate research and creative scholarship provide distinct platforms for our undergraduate scholars to put to practice the knowledge and skills that they learn in the classroom, and further develop critical thinking skills that are transferable across disciplines and activities,” said Chad Risko, faculty director of undergraduate research. “The mentors that received this year's awards are each fantastic, as evidenced in part by the genuine appreciation shown by their student nominators. The dedication of each of the award winners to the undergraduate mission of the university is quite amazing." 

The Excellent Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards were presented during the 15th Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars on April 27.

The winners are:

  • Patrick Hannon – College of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Melinda Ickes – College of Education, Kinesiology and Health Promotion
  • Nathan Vanderford – College of Medicine, Toxicology and Cancer Biology
  • Sherali Zeadally – College of Communication and Information, Information Communication Technology

Melinda Ickes is an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion. She was nominated by Julia Estes.

"Dr. Ickes has shown great commitment to undergraduate researchers and does not fail to offer an abundance of opportunities,” Estes said. “She has introduced new areas of research interest and does not hesitate to inform me of opportunities to get involved with other programs outside of my primary research realm. I believe this has allowed me to grow and gain quality, well-rounded experience to further develop my research. She is a person who I look up to and strive to be on a level beyond professional and academic endeavors. Due to her guidance, I am a better person all around."

Patrick Hannon is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was nominated by Frances Miller and Katie Land.

“(Hannon) encourages me to think critically by challenging me academically while also fostering a space where I feel comfortable to be completely wrong but learn from it, which is why I truly believe he is shaping the future of science by making a commitment to mentoring and teaching undergraduate researchers like me,” Land said.

Nathan Vanderford is an assistant professor in the Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology. He was nominated by Kaley Collett, Carrigan Wasilchenko, Lauren Hudson and Courtney Martin.

"He introduced a number of opportunities and always encouraged me to pursue them,” Martin said. “Before working with him, I had never formally presented my research, though, something I wanted to do. He is continually inspiring students to challenge themselves, pursue opportunities, and achieve all their goals (academic, personal and career-related).”

Sherali Zeadally is an associate professor in the School of Information Science and a University Research Professor. He was nominated by Bryan Kirshe.

“(Zeadally) inspires his students to follow THEIR OWN research dreams and interests and his enthusiasm for research is highly infectious,” Kirshe said. “For him failure did not matter at all, in fact, he used to remind us for each failure, we get closer to success — we just have to keep going forward in the research while learning from past mistakes and not repeating them again.”

A record 37 faculty were nominated by their undergraduate research mentees.

For more information about the Excellent Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards, visit https://our.uky.edu/faculty/faculty-mentor-year-award.