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Winners of the Viterbi Undergraduate Mentoring Research Award

June 12, 2012 —

The Viterbi Graduate and Professional Programs Office and the Vice Dean for Research are pleased to announce the two winners of the newly introduced Undergraduate Research Mentoring Awards:

Ashley Maker
Ashley is a Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering and is an active member of Dr. Andrea Armani's research group. She began mentoring students as an undergraduate and has mentored numerous high school and undergraduate students and high school teachers. She served as a mentor through the CED summer institute and the NSF RET program. Ashley has also mentored undergraduates through the various USC summer and academic year undergraduate research programs, such as merit research and directed research. As a mentor, she patiently guides students through the research process, answering their numerous questions along the way and encouraging them to think "like an engineer".

Ashley is always supportive and encouraging. Even when an experiment is not working, she is always able to draw something positive from the experience. After working with her, both high school students are now pursuing undergraduate degrees in engineering and several undergraduates are now pursuing or applying to Ph.D. programs in engineering. Given the strong correlation, there can be no doubt that this is a result of their research experiences and Ashley's positive influence.

Ross Mead
Ross is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science and works in Dr. Maja Matarić's research group. He is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a GK-12 BE-LA Fellow. Ross is an outstanding researcher who also devotes a great deal of his time to K-12 outreach and makes active mentoring of a large cohort of students a part of his daily research methodology. Ross's former student mentees have typically worked with him over multiple semesters, and then moved onto superb graduate school and career placements, including the Ph.D. programs at MIT and UC Berkeley.

In addition to mentoring VSoE undergraduates year-round, Ross has also mentored visiting summer undergraduates through the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program and the Viterbi Summer Research Experience program. These students have come from a range of institutions, including Princeton and Johns Hopkins. Ross's commitment to mentoring is a clear sign of his sense for service. He is clearly able to inspire students of all ages and sustain their interest and productivity in research.

These winners will be recognized in the 2013 ceremonies. Faculty and undergraduate students are encouraged to nominate worthy candidates next year, for the 2013 Undergraduate Research Mentoring Awards. The nominations are reviewed and ranked by the VSoE Research Committee. A call for nominations for 2013 awards will be issued in spring 2013.

Congratulations to Ross and Ashley!