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Eberly faculty honored for mentoring undergraduate students in research


Two professors who have engaged students in their research have received the 2017 Faculty Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Research Mentoring at West Virginia University.

Kirk Hazen, professor of English and director of the West Virginia Dialect Project, and Natalie Shook, associate professor of clinical psychology, will receive their awards May 11 at the Honors College medallion ceremony. Both are professors in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

“After reviewing the nomination letters of the 16 finalists, the selection committee was inspired by the commitment our faculty have to mentoring undergraduate students and giving them opportunities to conduct research,” said Michelle Richards-Babb, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “These two professors have truly enriched the academic experiences of many students throughout their career at WVU.”

Hazen was recognized for engaging students in research that affects this region and his ability to garner extramural funding to support undergraduate research.

“Professor Hazen is one of our finest and most productive scholars and he shares his success and professional connections with his students so completely that they feel empowered and inspired,” James Harms, chair of the Department of English, wrote in his nominating letter. 

“The West Virginia Dialect Project is peopled every week by talented students who conduct sociolinguistic interviews with Native Appalachians.  This research serves the state and the region by demystifying and quantifying the character and scope of Appalachian dialects and breaking down negative stereotypes through the science of sociolinguistics. Many of his students go on to graduate study in linguistics.”

The selection committee cited Shook’s approach to engaging students in all aspects of the research process.

 “Shook is quite adept at publishing her work and securing external funding to support her programs; however, these accomplishments pale in comparison to the satisfaction she experiences when she ‘hooks’ another young scholar into the joy of scientific discovery that occurs daily in her laboratory,” Kevin Larkin, chair of the Department of Psychology, wrote in his nomination letter. 

“Since fall 2011, she has mentored 65 undergraduate students in her lab giving them hands-on experience in conducting psychological research. For the past four summers, she has had undergraduate students working in her lab as part of programs to provide research experience for students from underrepresented groups such as McNair Scholars and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. In fact, 25 of her students have gone on to graduate or medical school.”

This is the second year for the mentorship award. Last year, James Smith, the director of the Center for Industrial Research Applications was recognized.

The Office of Undergraduate Research connects students and faculty to provide opportunities for students to engage in scholarly inquiry and creative endeavors. Students who are interested in research can visit the website or email