Edward Sabolsky, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Fernando Lima, assistant professor of chemical engineering, have been awarded the 2018 Faculty Award for Distinction in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research. Both awardees are faculty in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
Sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Honors College, this Faculty Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award serves to recognize, reward and encourage faculty members who mentor undergraduate students in research and creative endeavors. The award applies rigorous criteria in identifying faculty who specifically mentor undergraduates in making an original intellectual or creative contribution to their discipline.
“The selection committee was truly inspired by the efforts of both awardees, who clearly go above and beyond their normal faculty duties to promote high-quality student-faculty collaborative research,” said Kimberly Quedado, the assistant director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “It is exciting to see how their efforts in promoting undergraduate research have influenced their undergraduates in terms of success, professional advancement and continued involvement in the research enterprise.”
Since joining the WVU faculty in 2008, Sabolsky has engaged more than 50 undergraduate students in active research in his laboratory as part of his own highly-productive research agenda. He mentors his students very much as he led a research and development team in the private sector, asking them to set goals and parameters for their research before they even begin and meeting with each student weekly. Some 28 of Sabolsky’s students have co-authored technical publications and national conference presentations with him and other members of his highly diverse research team. This opportunity for early authorship lays a strong foundation for the professionalization of these young scientists.
“I learned to teach students with hands-on, practical examples. This teaching and mentorship got the students into the work and helped them get ‘dirty’ in the materials we fabricated. When I came to this university, I maintained my hands-on methods for laboratory teaching of the students,” Sabolsky said. “I would like to say that I continued this tradition from day one of my career at WVU.”
Lima currently mentors 12 undergraduate researchers in the department of chemical and biomedical engineering. His undergraduate researchers have earned numerous awards that speak to the caliber of the mentorship Lima provides, including WVU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience Fellowship and the WV Space Grant Consortium’s NASA Undergraduate Research Scholarship. Many of Lima’s students have secured post-undergraduate research opportunities in the country’s top institutions and industries.
“During my five years at WVU, I have provided mentorship and opportunities to 26 undergraduate students from WVU and Brazilian exchange programs, including many members of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. The students in my group present their research at national, state and local conferences. My goal in including undergraduates in research is to provide them with professional development opportunities and teach them problem solving skills, communication skills and project ownership concepts,” said Lima.
As the recipients of the 2018 Faculty Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award, Lima and Sabolsky will each receive a monetary award from the Office of Undergraduate Research to be used toward their continued support of undergraduate research. They will be recognized by President E. Gordon Gee and Provost Joyce McConnell at the April 25 faculty and staff awards dinner at Blaney House and honored by students at the Honors Medallion Ceremony on May 10.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.