2017 Honorees for Excellence in
Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars, and Artists
Dr. Richard Delaware
Dr. Delaware has been part of UMKC’s intellectual community for over 35 years, and he currently holds the title of Teaching Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the past fourteen years, he has mentored nearly 50 undergraduates in advanced mathematics classes, helping students transition from, according to colleague Dr. Eric Hall, the “procedural training of the calculus sequence to the art and skill of reading and writing the prose arguments known as ‘proofs’ in mathematics.” Dr. Delaware’s skill in assisting students make this critical transition is best exemplified by the eleven students who have won national awards for their writing from the History of Math Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America. With Dr. Delaware’s support, these students have researched figures ranging from Abu’l Wafa Al-Buzjani, who brought together art and mathematics in medieval Islamic culture, to Florence Nightingale, whose work as a statistician is largely unrecognized. Dr. Delaware’s former students can be found among the talented math teachers who work in high schools and community colleges throughout Kansas City; among graduate students in top-tier MA and PhD programs in mathematics, physics, and economics; and among the ranks of analysts, statisticians, actuaries, and scientists working in businesses across the U.S. and around the world.
Dr. Leonard Dobens
Specializing in research on the genetic and molecular basis of cell fate boundary formation, Dr. Dobens is Professor in the Division of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences. A noted expert on Drosophila oogenesis, Dr. Dobens’ widely-cited research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and he has deftly leveraged those dollars to support the investigations of undergraduate researchers in his lab. Under his tutelage, undergraduate researchers have studied the role and regulation of the tribbles gene in the Drosophila ovary and have worked to detect the insulin pathway target FOXO using a GFP Fusion Protein. On our campus, students mentored by Dr. Dobens have served as Undergraduate Research Ambassadors and have represented UMKC at Undergraduate Research Day @ the Capitol in Jefferson City. Upon completion of their studies at UMKC, students from the Dobens Lab find their way into leading medical schools, pharmacy programs, and graduate schools across the nation. Lauding Dr. Dobens’ “innate ability to connect with students,” his colleagues marvel at his “thoughtful, approachable” style—he is truly a role model of mentorship for students as well as other faculty members.
Dr. Diane Filion
Dr. Filion was one of the driving forces in creating an undergraduate research program at UMKC in 2000, just after the Boyer Commission (1998) declared undergraduate research “the pedagogy of the 21st century.” Every UMKC student who has since earned a SEARCH grant or presented at the annual symposium during the past seventeen years is indebted to Dr. Filion and her visionary leadership regarding the transformative power of undergraduate research for students as well as faculty. Currently a professor in the Department of Psychology, Dr. Filion has mentored countless undergraduate researchers through the years, helping them explore how sleep loss affects impulse control, emotion regulation, and decision-making as well as the processes of attentional filtering. Students fortunate to be mentored by Dr. Filion describe her as “passionate” and “inspirational,” and they revel in the collaborative, rather than competitive, environment she fosters in her lab. The success of Dr. Filion’s work on campus can be measured by her students’ impact off campus where they are regular presenters at the Society for Psychophysiological Research. As one of Dr. Filion’s current students has eloquently noted, “Her method is not to teach science to students; rather, she creates science by creating scientists.”