Awards Reception Adds Final Touch to URSA Scholars Week 2018

May 2, 2018
News - URSA Awards Go to 2018
Baylor - Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement - Awards

Left, student researchers Michael Valencia, Victoria Mancillas and Annie Luksch with faculty mentor, Dr. Myeongwoo Lee. Right, leadership award recipient Dr. Sinda Vanderpool with URSA director, Dr. Susan Bratton.

WACO, Texas (April 26, 2018) – An April 19th awards lunch capped off the 10th annual Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Achievement (URSA) Scholars Week. In the last decade, since 2008 when 101 students participated in “Scholars Day,” Scholars Week has shown continuous growth. This year’s March 26-29 event had 450 undergraduate researchers participate from more than 30 academic departments make 64 platform presentations and display 143 posters detailing their projects. Over 100 faculty mentors guided the students’ research.

More than a hundred undergraduate student researchers received awards at the lunch for the most outstanding research projects presented. A complete list of the award-winning students and projects can be reviewed here.

The following leadership and program awards were also presented to key URSA supporters and to faculty whose mentoring of student researchers has contributed significantly to the success of Scholars Week.

Baylor - Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement - Awards

Recipients of URSA Leadership Awards for 2018 were Dr. Sinda Vanderpool, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Enrollment Management in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Paul Foster Success Center; Dr. Rizalia Klausmeyer, Senior Lecturer, Program Director, Science Living and Learning Center, Director, Science Research Fellows, College of Arts and Sciences; Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science and Technology (BURST) URSA Officers and Events Committee members Courtney Smith, William Chan, Jianna Lin, Paul Early, Zachary Pranske, Grace Kohn, Kiersten Scott, and Emily Ziperman and URSA advisors Dr. Tamarah Adair, Dr. Susan Bratton, and Dr. Brian Raines; and the Baylor Undergraduates @ The Veterans Administration Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, including Baylor faculty members Dr. Sara Dolan, Dr. Paul Fillmore, and Dr. Richard Sanker; and from the Veterans Administration VISN 17 Center of Excellence Dr. Richard Seim, Dr. Laura Zambrano-Vazquez, Dr. Justin Benzer, Dr. Bryann DeBeer, Dr. Sheila Frankfurt, Dr. Evan Gordon, Dr. Rakeshwar Guleria, Dr. Geoffrey May, Dr. Eric Meyer, Dr. Joseph Mignogna, Dr. Steven Nelson, and Dr. Yvette Szabo.

Three faculty members received 2018 Mentors of the Year Awards: Dr. Mikeal Parsons, Professor in the Department of Religion in the College of Arts and Sciences received the award for Arts and Humanities; Dr. Melanie Sekeres, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience in the College of Arts and Sciences received the award for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; and Dr. Karen Melton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences received the award in Professional Fields

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Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit


The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University was established in 2014, a result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor's strategic vision, Pro Futuris, which serves as a compass for the University's future. The anchor academic units that form the new College - Communication Sciences and Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences and Health, Human Performance and Recreation - share a common purpose: improving health and the quality of life. The College is working to create curricula that promote a team-based approach to patient care and establish interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving the quality of life for individuals, familie, and communities. For more information visit


The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) assists faculty members from all academic units in identifying, obtaining and managing the funding needed to support their research and scholarship. Internal 'seed' funding, matching grant proposal funding, searchable online funding databases, grant writing seminars, proposal support and trave awards to national funding agencies are only a portion of what is provided by the various units comprising the OVPR. Additionally, the Vice Provost for Research oversees the ethical conduct of research and assists researchers in maintaining compliance with applicable policies, laws and regulations as well as providing support in establishing interdisciplinary / international collaborations and industry partnerships.

The OVPR acts as Baylor's representative in pursuing partnerships and collaborative agreements with entities outside the university. The office negotiates sponsored research agreements with industry on behalf of faculty and pursues research, technology transfer and the commercialization of technology. The OVPR welcomes the opportunity to discuss collaborative research and scholarship pursuits that can advance the academic mission of Baylor University to achieve R1/T1 status.

The OVPR also manages and operates the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a three-story, 330,000-square-foot facility focused on interdisciplinary/international research, industry/university collaborations, business incubation/acceleration/commercialization, advanced workforce training and STEM educational research and outreach.

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