Undergraduate Research @ UMKC

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2018 Honorees for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers, Scholars, and Artists


Dr. Stephanie Frank

An assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design, Dr. Frank has been at the forefront of promoting undergraduate research at UMKC. She is among the first faculty in the university to offer a EUReka course (Experiences in Undergraduate Research) to engage first- and second-year students in our university’s research mission. Dr. Frank’s course on the history of urban planning (UPD 260) asks students to research our city’s critical urban corridors—Troost Avenue, Prospect Avenue, and Linwood Blvd. Students’ research is then posted on a blog that is available not only to the university community but to residents of these areas as well. The importance of such research experiences for the newest members of our academic community is immeasurable. As one of Dr. Frank’s EUReka students noted, “As a 32-year old, I was apprehensive about returning to school, but Dr. Frank . . . was incredibly encouraging [and] helped me recognize my strengths. . . . My positive experience with Dr. Frank in that very first class set the stage for successful future semesters at UMKC.” Dr. Frank has also mentored advanced undergraduates studying the built environment and walkability in Havana, Cuba, and green housing in Minneapolis. Through her skilled mentorship, Dr. Frank has helped these and other undergraduate researchers realize that the world is truly their classroom.

Dr. Ryan Mohan

Specializing in research on the function of multiprotein complexes critical for neuroprotection, Dr. Mohan is an assistant professor in the Division of Cell Biology and Biophysics in the School of Biological Sciences. Under his tutelage, undergraduate researchers have studied the Non-stop-mediated organization of neuronal cells derived from fruit flies and have explored the potential of genomic engineering for the analysis of multiprotein complexes regulating neural stability. Students mentored by Dr. Mohan have served as Undergraduate Research Ambassadors and represented UMKC at Undergraduate Research Day @ the Capitol in Jefferson City. With a team-based approach to mentoring, Dr. Mohan supports students at all levels of academic preparation in his lab. As one student noted in her nomination letter, “At our group lab meetings, he has each student present their data so that everyone is up-to-date on the overall lab progress. Students and Dr. Mohan provide feedback to each other on presentation skills and laboratory data; this creates a knowledge transfer that increases improvement and efficiency in the lab. Dr. Mohan provides an authentic research experience, while also providing genuine support for each of his students.” Dr. Mohan is a role model of mentorship for students as well as colleagues.

Dr. Massimiliano Vitello

Dr. Vitiello, an associate professor who specializes in ancient history and late antiquity, currently holds a Royall Distinguished Professorship within the College of Arts & Sciences. Students mentored by Dr. Vitiello describe him as “passionate,” “caring” and a “model of scholarly virtue.” The success of Dr. Vitiello’s work can be measured by his students’ impact in the wider scholarly community where they are regular presenters at regional, national, and international conferences and have matriculated to prestigious graduate programs, including Duke University’s Department of Religion and the Yale Divinity School. As one Dr.Vitiello’s current students touchingly wrote in her nomination letter, “When I came to UMKC I had no confidence in myself and my academic ability. Dr. Vitiello believed in me when nobody else has--and continues to do so. I was unsure if I would ever graduate at all and now I am debating which graduate program would best suite my career goals as a scholar, and this newfound confidence and focus are completely thanks to Dr. Vitiello.”