The Collegian
Thursday, December 01, 2022

UR President Kevin Hallock hosts conversation on faculty-mentored research

<p>University of Richmond President Kevin Hallock hosts a discussion about the successes of mentored research at UR on April 7 at Queally Center for Admission and Career Services.</p>

University of Richmond President Kevin Hallock hosts a discussion about the successes of mentored research at UR on April 7 at Queally Center for Admission and Career Services.

To kick-off the University of Richmond’s weekend-long presidential inauguration, President Kevin F. Hallock led a discussion about UR’s commitment and successes in faculty-mentored research on April 7.

The conversation took place in the Queally Center for Admission and Career Services shortly after four UR students received Goldwater Scholarships, four received Beckman Scholarships and four received Fulbright Scholarships.

Hallock and Carol Parish, associate provost for academic integration, co-moderated a panel of four student-faculty pairs collaborating on research ranging from antibiotic resistance to the intellectual property rights of graffiti artists.

Hallock praised UR’s dedication to faculty-mentored research as one of the qualities that drew him to UR.

“I believe this is a part of the secret sauce of the University of Richmond,” Hallock said.

When Hallock asked members of the panel to provide advice on getting into research for first-year and prospective students, Christopher Cotropia, director of the Intellectual Property Institute and professor in the T.C. Williams School of Law, had a simple answer.

“Just do it,” Cotropia said.

Cotropia’s fellow mentors echoed his sentiment.

“In many contexts with students, in particular my first-years and advisees, I bring it up in conversations,” said Crystal Hoyt, associate dean for academic affairs. “But I think it's also important to start early, and if you’re interested in any subject, we can talk about how you can get involved.” 

Hoyt’s mentee, senior Ally Osterberg, who was named the 2021-22 Jepson School of Leadership Studies Jablin Student Research Fellow for her work on the effects of civic engagement on morality, also encouraged students studying the arts to pursue research opportunities.

“Research does exist for us,” Osterberg said. 

The panel also discussed possible ways to improve mentored research at UR. 

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Senior Makayla Callender, who is researching antibiotic resistance, suggested offering more opportunities for students conducting research on campus to get to know each other.

“We have so much amazing research happening all over campus,” Callender said. “But I think having a community of people doing research all across campus would really bridge that part of the experience.”

Callender’s mentor, chemistry professor Julie Pollock, suggested encouraging students to continue researching throughout their time at UR to engage students even further in their fields of study.

For senior Amara Nwangwu, who is studying the psychological effects of the barriers and access to care of organ transplant patients, her research has helped clarify her post-graduation goals, she said.

“I’m privileged in the sense that I get to actually interact with patients and I get a lot of perspective,” Nwangwu said “My research really informed the population that I want to serve the type of provider I want to be.”

Collaborating with students on research offers faculty a unique opportunity to learn from students and gain motivation, said Nwangwu’s mentor Camilla Nonterah, professor of health psychology.

Osterberg also credited her senior thesis as a source of confidence that inspired her to pursue graduate studies.

“My research has given me confidence to know that I can contribute new knowledge and that I can do academically challenging things,” Osterberg said.

Law school student Michaela Morrissey's research with Cotropia on intellectual property rights for graffiti artists helped combine her interests in law and the arts to pursue a career in copyright law, she said.

Sophomore Helen Xia was featured during the discussion because of her research on methods of making cancer treatment drugs more efficiently, and she enjoyed hearing about the variety of research that is conducted at UR, she said.

“It was really cool to be able to hear about research from all different parts of our school,” Xia said. “Also, to be able to see all the kinds of support and opportunities from the school that we get for research from faculty and students.”

Senior Molly Kate Kreider, who just received a Goldwater scholarship for her research in optical physics, was also featured during the conversation and agreed with Xia.

“I think in particular it echoes a lot of the experiences I’ve had in Richmond with fantastic faculty mentorship,” Kreider said. “Getting involved in research has been a very impactful part of my career at Richmond.”

While the conversation highlighted many faculty members and students involved in research, Parish acknowledged it was only the beginning.

“No stage is big enough for all the faculty and students engaged in mentored research here at UR,” Parish said.

Contact news writer Katie Castellani at katie.castellani@richmond.edu.

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