November 11, 2015
The Geoscience Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research (GeoCUR) presented its annual Undergraduate Research Mentor Award last week at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. This year’s recipient of the award is Mark Wilson, Lewis M. and Marian Senter Nixon Professor of Natural Sciences and Geology at The College of Wooster. Mark is the fifth recipient of this award, following previous award winners Mary MacLaughlin (Montana Tech, 2014), Mary Savina (Carleton College, 2013), Tracey Holloway (Univ. of Wisconsin Madison, 2012), and John Brady (Smith College, 2011).
Mark is recognized for his investment in providing original research experiences to undergraduate students in locations across the globe, and assisting his students in seeing research through to completion with conference presentations and publications. Not only is his impact felt directly by the students he mentors, but his vision has shaped undergraduate research across his campus and even beyond The College of Wooster.
Several powerful statements from colleagues and present and past students celebrate Mark’s impact as a research mentor. One nominator attested to the amount of time he devotes to each of his students, “not just communicating knowledge, principles, and methods of research, but also conveying the life of a scientist – the process of doing science.” This nominator praises Mark as an exemplar in mentoring student researchers, going beyond the research process by “listening to the ideas of students; giving career advice on career pathways and graduate school; working on behalf of the interests of students as an advocate; and is accessible, approachable, and patient.”
One of Mark’s former students commented that, “the proficiency and enthusiasm displayed in his classroom was one of the foremost reasons for me declaring Geology as my undergraduate major, and for electing Mark as my primary advisor.” This former student continued to share that, “as I was nearing graduation, it became very clear to me that Mark’s dedicated mentorship extended beyond the walls of The College of Wooster… Since graduation, Mark continues to have a major impact on my life and continues to stay in touch regarding further research…”
Another nominator shared that “Perhaps the best thing about Mark is that he is an exceptional human being. Once you are his student, you will always be the focus of his interest and concern for your well-being… I have always felt that Mark cared about me as a person and saw potential in me that others may not have.”
And one final statement from a nominator: “as you read through Dr. Wilson’s story, you’ll begin to know him as I do: a leader in the field of undergraduate research with a remarkable record of excellence in mentoring. I can imagine no better candidate for the GeoCUR Undergraduate Mentor Award than Dr. Wilson.” And GeoCUR couldn’t agree more with this assessment, thanking Mark for being a beacon for undergraduate research.
Mark Wilson during his “acceptance speech” at the GSA GeoEd/NAGT/CUR luncheon
(The photos above were taken by Krista Herbstrith (NAGT) at the NAGT/GSA GeoEd/CUR Awards Luncheon at the GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, November 3, 2015)
Each year, GeoCUR records a 20-30 minute audio interview with the award recipient that allows us to hear from the awardee about their earliest research experience, how to address mentoring the range of levels of student preparation for research, how to balance faculty research demands that require deliverables with student mentoring that is good pedagogy and not necessarily results-driven, advice for junior faculty, greatest joy of mentoring students, and more. I encourage everyone to listen to this interview with Mark to hear his words, reflect upon his advice and experiences, and to be inspired to go even further with our own mentoring practices.
The Geoscience Division of CUR accepts nominations and self-nominations for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Award annually between March 1st and June 1st. Nominees need not be CUR members. For more information, please visit http://geocur.org/awards/faculty-mentors/application/.