Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

URCA Header


Congratulations to the winners of the Spring 2018 URCA Assistant Program Awards!!

Vaughn Vandegrift URCA Assistant Research Mentor of the Semester Award

Susanne DiSalvo

Dr. Susanne DiSalvo, Biological Sciences

Nominated by: Sydni Rubio

"Dr. DiSalvo has done outstanding work in the URCA program. She goes above and beyond of what is expected of a mentor.  With eight students in her lab, she certainly has her hands full; yet she still finds time to provide extensive help, feedback, and cheesy jokes for all of us. I am currently working on analyzing the host-range specificity of Burkholderia bacteria in association with different Dictyostelium species.  This involves the use of a broad set of skills and machinery, all of which she trained me for directly.  She spent hours with me in lab, teaching me proper techniques. In addition to her hard work in lab, she’s also encouraged me to use my acquired skills and URCA research findings outside of lab. I have recently applied for a scholarship under her guidance.  She dedicated an extensive amount of time assisting me with my research proposal.  This helped me immensely with proper scientific writing. I will also be presenting my URCA research at the ISAS (Illinois State Academy of Science) conference in April 2018; something I would not be able to accomplish without the help of Dr. DiSalvo."

URCA Assistant Creative Activities Mentor of the Semester Award

Thad Duhigg

Mr. Thad Duhigg, Department of Art and Design

Nominated by: Joseph Ovalle

“Thad has been an amazing teacher/mentor throughout this entire process. He is patient and gives me clear instruction on how to work. He makes this URCA experience about learning and developing the skills that I will need for the real world. I’m very influenced by Thad. He works hard, comes into the classroom/work space with a great attitude every day, and never gives up on a student. I’m sure that I have made mistakes that have set him and his work back, but he’s helped me realize there is no mistake that can’t be fixed and that if you work hard enough, you get better at what you are doing and can achieve anything you think you can. I think that this shows how devoted he is, as a professor, to the educational value a student (such as myself) receives through this work. Thad is a great person and a phenomenal instructor, I couldn’t be more honored to work with such a great sculptor.”

URCA Research Assistant of the Semester Award


Clayton Donald, Department of Chemistry

Nominated by: Dr. Kevin Tucker

"Clayton has been an invaluable researcher in my lab. Clayton is a clever, young researcher who is motivated and determined. He is willing to apply himself and work towards the lab research goals endlessly. His scientific thinking is logical and reflects breadth of his understanding of the scientific principles. His desire to excel in research and his ability to grasp conceptually everything that we are doing in the lab and begin to explain the material to new students has been impressive and of great significance in the training of new lab members. He has transformed into one of the leaders in the lab. Ultimately, he is intellectually bright, dependable, respectful and honest – qualities that are of the utmost importance in research. He went above and beyond, and his contribution to the lab is important and meaningful."

URCA Creative Activities Assistant of the Semester Award 


Maika Miller, Department of Music

Nominated by: Dr. Marc Schapman

"Maika has been an invaluable asset for our productions of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. She has served as an assistant stage director, stage manager, costume designer, publicist, and props manager. Maika is enthusiastic, energetic, and her positive attitude and work ethic is infectious. She arrives early to rehearsal, assists in managing rehearsals, and proactively asks for her next task. Her background in vocal music has also been helpful in the creative process. Maika’s largest contribution has been in publicity and prop management. She has a keen sense for design and how the props enhance the drama. Publicity is essential to the success of any show, and Maika’s attention to detail in this area has been extremely helpful. I am thrilled to have Maika in our program and look forward to her future contributions to SIUE Opera and Musical Theatre."

Other nominees:


Dr. Ann Popkess, Nursing
Nominated by:
Caleb Culbreath

Dr. Barb McCracken, Dental Medicine
Nominated by:
Nick Ballard

Dr. Brianne Guilford, Applied Health
Nominated by:
Abby Reller

Dr. Bryan Smith, Applied Health
Nominated by:
Olivia Hanzel

Dr. James Panico, Applied Health
Nominated by:
Alyssa Groene

Dr. Jeff Manuel, Historical Studies
Nominated by:
Angela Little

Dr. Kamran Shavezipur, Mechanical Engineering
Nominated by:
Bryan Kier

Dr. Kevin Tucker, Chemistry
Nominated by:
Clayton Donald

Dr. Laurie Rice, Political Science
Nominated by:
Margaret Scarsdale


Jennifer Gaytan
Nominated by:
Dr. Carolina Rocha, Foreign Language and Literature 

Taylor Dichsen
Nominated by:
Dr. Jill Schrieber, Social Work

Allison Keck
Nominated by:
Dr. Jen Zuercher, Applied Health 

Fall 2017 Award Winners
Spring 2017 Award Winners
Fall 2016 Award Winners
Spring 2016 Award Winners
Fall 2015 Award Winners
Spring 2015 Award Winners
Fall 2014 Award Winners
Spring 2014 Award Winners
Fall 2013 Award Winners
Spring 2013 Award Winners
Fall 2012 URCA Award Winners
Spring 2012 URCA Award Winners
Fall 2011 URCA Award Winners

For more information about the URCA program,
contact Dr. Laura Pawlow at 618-650-2608 or
The calls for nominations for these awards go out mid-fall and mid-spring.

facebookoff twitteroff vineoff linkedinoff flickeroff instagramoff socialoff