Skip to main content

Eberly Faculty and PhD Student Receive 2023 Awards of Distinction in Mentoring

Two Eberly faculty members and one Eberly graduate student were among the recipients of 2023 Awards of Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research. The award recognizes and rewards faculty and graduate students who encourage and support undergraduates in making an original intellectual or creative contribution to their discipline.

All of the 2023 recipients are:

  • Luis Arroyo, assistant professor of forensic & investigative science at Eberly College 
  • Shari Steinman, associate professor of psychology at Eberly College 
  • Malia Miller, a PhD student in the Department of Biology at Eberly College
  • Yoav Kaddar, professor of dance in the College of Creative Arts
  • Ember Morrissey, associate professor of environmental microbiology in the Davis College

Sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Office of the Provost, awards have been presented to faculty in four categories since 2016: behavioral and social sciences, biosciences and health sciences, humanities and the arts, and physical sciences and technology. In 2022 a new category for graduate students was created to recognize the important role graduate students play in mentoring undergraduates in research and creative work.

Luis Arroyo

A Mountaineer since 2016, Arroyo has consistently included undergraduates in his research. He was recognized in the physical sciences and technology category.

Luis Arroyo“Arroyo focuses on helping students to apply concepts learned in the classroom to real-world problems at the forefront of science and technology,” Casper Venter, chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, said. “Mentoring undergraduate students in research activities aligns with Arroyo’s approach of professionally driven direction that shapes them to be ready for the job market or graduate education.”

Kourtney Dalzell, a graduate student in forensic science who was mentored by Arroyo as an undergraduate student, said he has the “capability to see the promise in his students and pull out their full research potential through his leadership, passion for science and, most importantly, instilling confidence in his students.”

Shari Steinman

Awarded in the behavioral and social sciences category, Steinman has mentored more than 50 undergraduate students in research during her seven years at WVU.

Shari Steinman“This is an amazing amount of mentorship for a young scientist who was just promoted to associate professor in our department and granted tenure last year,”  Kevin Larkin, chair of the Department of Psychology in the Eberly College, said. “Her laboratory is producing the kind of critical thinkers and scholars who will make the institution proud as they enter their scientific careers in the years beyond graduation.”

Steinman’s mentorship style is based on developing mentees’ curiosity, challenging them by setting high expectations and maintaining a warm and supportive learning environment. Her mentees publish in peer-reviewed journals, present in scientific events and successfully apply to graduate and professional schools.

Malia Miller

Over the course of her five years as a graduate student, Miller has mentored several undergraduates in research, most of them freshmen with no previous experience in research.

 Malia Miller“Malia goes above and beyond the level of care, compassion, clear communication of expectation and overall effort to mentor than one would see from a graduate student,” Kevin Daly, professor of biology and Miller’s mentor, said.

Miller had a record number of nominations for this award with many of her mentees praising her mentorship style as well as the care and support she showed each of them.

When I presented at the WVU Fall 2022 Research Symposium, Malia was there on a Saturday afternoon to see my poster, hear me give my speech. She did not have an obligation to be there, but she came because she supports her undergraduates in the projects they do,” Samantha Bostic, a biology major, said.

According to Cinthia Pacheco, assistant director for the Office of Undergraduate Research, the feedback shared by students and colleagues is an important part of the nomination process.

“We know that participation in undergraduate research increase the retention of students in college, but beyond that, it helps students to be more successful in their majors and more prepared for the challenges of a constantly changing world,” she said.

Read about all the award recipients.