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Congratulations to the winners of the Fall 2019 URCA Assistant Program Awards!

Vaughn Vandegrift URCA Assistant Research Mentor of the Semester Award


Dr. Darron Luesse, Department of Biological Sciences

Nominated by: Kyle Warnecke

“Dr. Luesse (or Darron, as he informally goes by to his students) has reminded me and all of us repeatedly that science, at its heart, is driven by the desire to know “why.” It is about asking a question, and then figuring out a proper way to go about finding an answer to it – and whether or not that question involves an overarching hypothesis about chloroplast biogenesis or simply why a particular restriction enzyme didn’t cut the way it was expected to, the path to its answer is fueled by curiosity, which must be maintained with careful patience and determination. Each time I leave his office, I walk back to the lab confidently, anxiety dissipated and armed with encouragement, determined to try again.”

URCA Creative Activities Mentor of the Semester Award


Jane Barrow, Department of Art and Design

Nominated by: Sutton Allen

“As my personal mentor, Jane assists me in ways that go beyond my formal education. Thus far, Jane and the URCA program have given me personal insight into a working artist’s personal process and practice. I have been able to engage with my mentor not as my professor but as a working artist, helping her to problem solve and create a new body of work. During this time, she shares with me many of the struggles painters today are likely to face… Jane sincerely engages with her students in a heartfelt and genuine way, she is personally invested in our success.”

URCA Research Assistant of the Semester Award

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Henry Schilling, Department of Psychology

Nominated by: Dr. Elora Voyles

“It is clear that other students look to Henry. Given his tenacity, positive attitude, humor, and intelligence, it’s not surprising that he is an excellent leader and mentor for other students. My research and my other URCA students have been positively influenced by Henry. As such, Henry deserves the URCA assistant award because he is truly an outstanding URCA assistant.”

URCA Creative Activities Assistant of the Semester Award 


Haley Inyart, Department of Art and Design

Nominated by: Brigham Dimick

“Haley is a model of excellence in many ways. Aside from her professionalism and depth and breadth of skills, she is extremely ambitious.  She is prolific in her drawing production without losing a high degree of detail and ongoing innovation of form and content. She is the most active undergraduate I have met in terms of applying to juried exhibitions throughout the country she has applied to. Her applications have been rewarded by a long list of exhibitions and awards. In that spirit, Haley found an exhibition for the two of us to apply to as collaborators, an exhibition whose theme focused on the conversation between the artworks of mentors and their students.”

Other nominees:


Dr. Barb McCracken, Dental Medicine
Nominated by:
Jordon Frohock

Dr. Brittany Peterson, Biological Sciences
Nominated by:
Eno-Obong Bless Udoh

Dr. Kevin Tucker, Chemistry
Nominated by:
Dalia Hassan

Dr. Elora Voyles, Psychology
Nominated by:
Michael Robinson

Dr. Jeremy Jewell, Psychology
Nominated by:
Ashley Monier

Dr. Nima Lotfi, Mechanical Engineering
Nominated by:
Anthony DeRagisch

Dr. Thad Meeks, Psychology
Nominated by:
Alec Hester

Mr. Brigham Dimick, Art and Design
Nominated by:
Haley Inyart


Riley McDade
Nominated by:
Dr. Laura Hanson, Theater and Dance

Andrea Frerker
Nominated by:
Dr. Brianne Guilford, Applied Health

Andrew Hofferkamp
Nominated by:
Dr. Susanne DiSalvo, Biological Sciences

Ashley Monier
Nominated by:
Dr. Jeremy Jewell, Psychology

Eno-Obong Bless Udoh
Nominated by:
Dr. Brittany Peterson, Biological Sciences

Brandon Burke
Nominated by:
Dr. Thoshita Gamage, Computer Science

Brianna Amos
Nominated by:
Dr. Zhi-Qing Lin, Environmental Sciences

Claire Iott
Nominated by:
Dr. Alan Black, Geography

Karolina Chmielewska
Nominated by:
Dr. Kevin Tucker, Chemistry

Lara Tupper
Nominated by:
Dr. Kathy Mora, Applied Health

 Madelyn Jenkins
Nominated by:
Dr. Elizabeth McKenney, Psychology

Spring 2019 Award Winners
Fall 2018 Award Winners
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.

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