Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Logo
Apply to SIUE

URCA Header


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

Vaughn Vandegrift URCA Assistant Research Mentor of the Semester Award


Dr. Ron Worthington, Pharmaceutical Sciences

Nominated by: Greg Takacs

“Dr. Worthington possesses many characteristics that demonstrate his exceptional work. For instance, qualities such as dedication, diligence, patience, and leadership are a constant while working with Dr. Worthington. Over the years of collaboration with Dr. Worthington, I have accounted several occasions that attest to his outstanding behavior and work. For instance:  he gave me a chance to succeed by accepting me into his research group with open arms. He has taught me so much about bioinformatics, cancer biology, and working with others to achieve research goals. He has given me invaluable advice on graduate school and the application process. He encouraged my research partner and I to present our research at conferences. He has put long hours into achieving our research goals. Dr. Worthington is, in my opinion, one of the most influential professors at SIUE and I aspire to emulate his outstanding behavior and work in the field of science.”

URCA Assistant Creative Activities Mentor of the Semester Award


Dr. Carolina Rocha, Department of Foreign Language and Literature

Nominated by: Rachel Liefer

“Besides the eye-opening research she [Dr. Rocha] has encouraged me to explore, she has also been reliable. Not only has she always been available for meetings, but she has gone out of her way to help me better my project. Every week, I update her on the progress. Every week, she gives me useful feedback on how I can improve my sources and content. The amazing experience she provides has inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and look at the bigger picture; not only academically within my project, but also within day to day life. My experience with her has been outstanding. Under Professor Rocha’s wing, I have been given creative reign to explore my own ideas, while also gaining a greater appreciation of cinema as well as the research process.”

URCA Research Assistant of the Semester Award


Dalia Hassan, Department of Chemistry

Nominated by: Dr. Kevin Tucker

“Dalia is one of my very best students! During our first conversation, I came to appreciate Dalia’s deep understanding of and passion for science and research that have stemmed from her parents and knew that she would be a prize student in my lab. I put her in charge of her own project – a project that had not started and was hers to develop and explore. Dalia is a very bright student, who is more motivated and determined than almost any other student that I work with in my research lab. She is highly organized, meticulous and reliable. She is constantly reading papers and websites related to her work and delivering to me the direction that she wants to take her project. She is a self-starter who only needs the initial push of her mentor – every mentor’s dream. She is fully engaged in the research, reading and presenting papers at group meetings allowing others to comprehend a project that only she is involved in. Her hard work in the lab and her interest in chemistry lead me to believe that she will prove to be a successful researcher wherever she goes next. Dalia understands both the narrow and broad goals of her project allowing her to think about her project goals at multiple levels. Dalia is a standout researcher who has made significant strides on her own research project as a sophomore and continues to as a junior this year!”

URCA Creative Activities Assistant of the Semester Award 

No Photo

Jeri Reuter, Department of English Language and Literature

Nominated by: Dr. Jessica DeSpain

“This is Jeri’s first semester as a URCA, and I have been so impressed with her attention to detail, an important skill for our project, The Wide, Wide World Digital Edition. Jeri was assigned the daunting task of working with her fellow editors to complete the titling and quality control process for more than 300 images on the site. Each week, she completes more than her portion of the titles and arrives at our editor meetings with a host of excellent questions about exceptions to our standards that have made the site more precise in its methods for describing each image. In this one semester, Jeri pushed herself to become an expert in bibliographical description, metadata best practices, and scanning methods. She has dedicated herself to the project, and this week she announced during our meeting that she has finished the titling and is prepared to move on to the work of describing items. Rather than just a job, Jeri understands that the project’s success is dependent on her work, and she gets it right; I am so thankful for her ambition and her attention to each minute detail. I cannot imagine a student more deserving of the award.”

Other nominees:


Dr. Adriana Martinez, Geography
Nominated by:
Seth Kannarr

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

Dr. Kevin Tucker, Chemistry
Nominated by:
Samantha Olendorff

Dr. Luci Kohn, Biological Sciences
Nominated by:
Haley Gouchenour

Dr. Nahid Shabestary, Chemistry
Nominated by:
Benjamin Atterberry

Dr. Nima Lotfi, Mechanical Engineering
Nominated by:
Pratik Lamsal

Dr. Laura Pawlow, Psychology
Nominated by:
Lauren Ferris

Hannah Fink
Nominated by:
Dr. Marc Schapman, Music


Spring 2018 Award Winners
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 googleplusoff socialoff