The Office of Student Research (OSR) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Awards (FEMA) for undergraduate research. OSR received 20 nominations from students who wrote about the mentorship they received from these Longwood University faculty members.

Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Awards (FEMA) represents Strategy 2.2.2: Excellence in Mentoring Awards in support of Goal 2: Improve Students' Learning by Facilitating Student-Faculty Collaborations in Research of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). 

Amorette Barber, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Shane Crean points to Dr. Barber’s qualities as an expert teacher and mentor: “Not only was she an expert at teaching as far as class/research but she was also great at teaching life skills. She helped me manage my time when under severe stress, taught me coping mechanics, and always reassured me of my capabilities. She truly cared about my well-being and wanted to see me succeed. While I personally experienced her caregiving nature, I witnessed the same with many of her students in class and lab. She knows the real life problems that we all go through and always allowed for people to vent. So to summarize, she is an expert teacher in that she not only knows the ins and outs of her field, but she knows how to articulate it to every student. In addition to her teaching ability, she was always available, and she not only mentored us in our academics but as individuals.”


Chris Bjornsen, Psychology

Ashley Crabtree credits Dr. Bjornsen with embarking on research:  “Working with Dr. Bjornsen helped me find my true potential. I actually had my internship with another psychology professor as a teaching assistant for quantitative methods during the same semester that I began working on student research with Dr. Bjornsen. These experiences combined led to an epiphany; by the end of my junior year, I know longer wanted to go to school for counseling, even though he supported that decision. I felt more comfortable working with research and numbers than working as a counselor. I now intend to spend a year working outside of academia as a research associate before continuing school to work toward a degree in experimental psychology. I would have never known how much I enjoyed research if I hadn’t worked with Dr. Bjornsen. He has truly had a long-lasting impact on me.”


Justin Contat, College of Business and Economics

Timothy Olmstead wrote about the impact of the research with Dr. Contat:  “Dr. Contat’s guidance and mentorship allowed me to see the research opportunities that I thought foreclosed to me due to my non-traditional status.  I am in the process of applying to graduate schools to allow me to pursue my forays in research at a higher level.  Unfortunately, while I may never be destined for a PhD program, there are several accessible Master’s in Economics programs to further my researcher’s toolbox.  Dr. Contat has kindly provided recommendations to all of them.” 


Jo Ann Davis, Nursing

Chloe Woodward focuses on personal interaction with Professor Davis:  “She showed me that to be a good leader you must build others up in confidence, you must be your best self, and live for the betterment of others. She taught me, through her various assignments, that citizenship to an area is the responsibility of all who live in it. Community outreach to the disadvantaged is the only way a nurse can truly be well rounded. She did this through her participation in numerous community outreach programs and activism for the impoverished and less fortunate.  Lastly, Jo Ann Davis has personally advocated for me as a student, and helped me grow as a citizen leader. I am comfortable coming to her and asking for advice on community projects I’m involved in, and she supports and uplifts me through every interaction. She is always in her office, I’m constantly emailing her, and we frequently talk after her class. She is knowledgeable about nursing overall, and I know that any questions I have can be answered or worked through with her, without feeling lesser for not knowing. Jo Ann Davis has showed me that nursing goes beyond the academic grades, and rests upon the commitment of the individual to better others in everything that they do.”


Heather Lettner-Rust, English and Modern Languages

Karyn Keane speaks about the impact of Dr. Lettner-Rust on her future plans:  “When I met Dr. Lettner-Rust, she introduced me to the discipline of Composition and Rhetoric. Although I had never heard of this field before, it satisfied my passions for writing, analysis, and argumentation and I fell in love. Since then, I have decided to pursue a doctorate in Composition and Rhetoric after graduating from Longwood. My excitement for the future increases every day, and I owe it all to her. Without her enthusiasm, understanding, intelligence, kindness, and drive to help students like me, I would never have discovered my passion. When I become a professor, I hope to be the Dr. Lettner-Rust to someone’s Karyn Keane.”


Jo Morrison, Health, Athletic Training, Recreation and Kinesiology

The student who nominated Dr. Morrison noted:  “Working with Dr. Morrison has pushed me to work for things that seem out of reach. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to help conduct a research study from start to finish, yet Dr. Morrison has worked with me to help me realize that it was possible. She has also worked with me to find an internship that I feel passionate about, reminding me that while I need an internship, I should not just take the first option that comes to me if it is not something I’m interested in. She has also taught me to push myself to meet expectations. Dr. Morrison has set standards for us as a class that she expects us to meet. If we did not meet her expectations, she did not lower them. She gave us the tools we needed to meet them, reminding us that it was possible to get a tutor and that she had office hours. Knowing Dr. Morrison both as a professor, and as a research mentor, has pushed me to work harder in class and made me want to succeed more. I believe this is something I will take into my professional plans, and look for a mentor with similar qualities.”


JoEllen Pederson, Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice

Kimberly Daucher sees Dr. Pederson as instrumental to research experience:  “Dr. Pederson persuaded me to take my in-class research and present it at the VSSA (Virginia Social Science Association) Conference at VCU this year.  Prior to speaking with her, I would have never expected any opportunity like that to arise.  I wish that I had spoken to her in my other undergraduate years because I know that she has worked with students in creating published research and developing new literature as well.  She constantly provides opportunities for students to become involved on and around campus as well as understanding the importance of research and statistics as well.  She makes what would be a typically feared class enjoyable and provides numerous opportunities to take the information that is learned and build upon it to create a project that is impactful to those who are not just in the university.”


Erin Shanle, Biological and Environmental Sciences

The student who nominated Dr. Shanle writes about the impact on future goals:  “Before working with Dr. Shanle, I did not know what career path to pursue and was something I struggled with since the beginning of my undergraduate career. While working under Dr. Shanle, she showed me that I had the potential to be successful in the field of scientific research and that applying to graduate school was something that I had potential for. She started by helping me figure out what schools I should apply to, one day we sat in her office for over two hours looking at everything from graduate schools to different career paths. She helped me pick a list of different graduate schools and programs. She also read over and edited my professional documents, such as my CV and personal statements during this process. When I thought I had no chance of being accepted into these schools she reassured me that I would be successful no matter what the outcome was. When I finally got accepted into programs she helped me weigh my options; go to graduate school or start working and reapply in a few years. She finally helped me come to the realization that pursuing a master’s degree is the best route for a career in research that I want. I would not be going to graduate school if it was not for her guidance in and outside the lab over the past year.”