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2021 Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year

The Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award honors a faculty member who has shown outstanding commitment to mentoring undergraduate research students.

Jennifer Macfie

Jenny Macfie took her first undergraduate psychology class age 40 at the University of Colorado at Boulder, after being a fifth grade teacher and agent for photographers in New York City. She completed a PhD at the University of Rochester and a postdoc at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

What does being a Volunteer mean to you? How has UT empowered you to make a difference in a way you might not have imagined elsewhere?

Being a Vol means to be part of a community of scholars, students, and staff who value mutual support and cooperation vs the ruthless competitiveness reported by colleagues at many other universities. This has empowered me to conduct the research I feel is important, to teach in the most effective way possible (e.g., recently being mentored in how to teach online), and to provide service to help things run smoothly.

Kimberly Gwinn

Kimberly Gwinn is an associate professor in entomology and plant pathology who investigates natural products and their role in agroecosystems. She is nationally recognized for research investigating the role of undergraduate research in STEM development and currently serves as director for two Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates programs.

What does being a Volunteer mean to you? How has UT empowered you to make a difference in a way you might not have imagined elsewhere?

To me being a Vol means constant learning. My field of research is always changing, and I enjoy the journey of discovery and sharing that journey with graduate and undergraduate students. I enjoy collaborating with younger colleagues who have tools in their scientific toolbox that can be used to answer questions once considered impossible to undertake.

Ten years ago, I was asked to take on the role of honors and undergraduate research coordinator in Herbert College of Agriculture. That experience led to an intense interest in the role of undergraduate research in the development of STEM students. UT provided me the flexibility to pursue this new area of research.

Also, the UT community has fostered a deep appreciation for “Vol means All,” encouraging me to learn more about others and to assuming personal responsibility for this institutional value.

I value my academic association with UT, the freedom to pursue my love of learning, and the opportunities to encourage others to do the same.