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2023 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

Each year, Undergraduate Research Symposium presenters are given an opportunity to nominate their mentor for the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Nominations are considered by a small review committee of faculty and staff. Faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and research staff are all eligible for nomination.

Below are quotes from the students who nominated these outstanding researchers and educators.

Congratulations to our 2023 awardees!

Sarah Alaei, Assistant Professor

Biomedical Sciences, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (UW Tacoma)

“Dr. Alaei takes the time to help connect students with resources and opportunities that best suit their interests. She has helped me bridge gaps in my future aspirational goals and has helped several students as well. She challenges me in research by having me design experiments and critique flaws throughout the process, write scientific papers/posters, and present my future and ongoing work. Having her as a professor and research mentor has helped me grow academically in the research and scientific realm. Dr. Alaei goes above and beyond to help students and has shown her commitment to helping students over the years. I could not have asked for a better mentor than Dr. Alaei throughout my duration at the University of Washington Tacoma.
— Sahra Abdirahman Jana (Senior, Biomedical sciences)

Holly Sue Hake, Graduate Student

Psychology, Graduate Program in Neuroscience

During my time in this lab, Holly has been everything I was looking for in a mentor. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her research are inspiring, and she is an effective teacher. When I started working with her, I had few of the skills or background knowledge needed to succeed in this lab. She was dedicated to helping me get experience with all aspects of a research project and gave me the opportunity to get deeply involved with multiple projects in the lab. With her guidance, I have acquired numerous skills that have not only been beneficial in this lab, but will also be valuable in my future research endeavors in other labs.

— Sara Diana Ulibarri // Senior // Biology (Physiology)

Paola Rodríguez Hidalgo, Assistant Professor

Physical Sciences Division, School of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (UW Bothell)

“Paola has been an amazing mentor, she has consistently pushed me to go beyond and motivate me to continue even when I’ve hit a wall. Between her meetings, giving talks, and writing papers, I’m not sure where she finds the time for it all. She truly deserves to recognized for all of the hard work she puts into not only teaching classes but, also mentoring students and leading the quasar research group.”

— Easton Robert Pierce // Senior // Physics

Ronald Young Kwon, Associate Professor

Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

“Dr. Kwon’s constant support and patience helped me feel welcomed and respected, for the first time, in the world of STEM. Under his mentorship, I have grown immensely as an individual, a leader, and an independent researcher. Dr. Kwon constantly challenges me to utilize creativity, consider new perspectives, and ask all the questions I can. His passion for mentorship can be seen throughout our lab where he fosters collaboration, equity, diversity, and respect. He encourages me to explore new interests and always finds time in his extremely busy schedule to support my goals and connect me with exciting opportunities.”

— Emily Ramirez // Senior // Biology (Physiology)

Ben Marwick, Professor


Professor Marwick is incredibly patient, encouraging, and supportive. He listens to understand and has really allowed me to take the lead on my project while guiding and directing. He is never harsh or critical but provides positive feedback and constructive criticism. He teaches without condescension, making his students feel capable and never belittling even when we are slow or have ridiculous questions.
— Brieana Smith // Senior // Sociology, Anthropology

Caroline A.E. Strömberg, Professor


“Caroline values the cultivation of a healthy lab culture greatly, going to great lengths to ensure that every member of the lab team feels included and has the necessary support to pursue their academic interests, even if they’re not a graduate student. When I started working in the Strömberg Lab I was worried about being an odd one out due to my age and class standings, but she made sure to get to know me and has always been accommodating to my many requests for letters of recommendation. While I don’t expect that I’ll stay with this lab forever, the team that she leads has set the bar high in terms of the level of space, support, and encouragement that I’ve experienced in her lab and the lessons I’ve learned doing my first independent project with her as a mentor will last me a long time as I progress into my career outside research.”
— Rosemary Quincy // Senior // Environmental Science & Resource Management (Restoration Ecology & Environmental Horticulture)

Rebecca U. Thorpe, Associate Professor

Political Science

“She is an incredibly strong and passionate researcher who I look up to immensely. Her drive and work ethic is contagious and the advice she has provided to all of her students throughout the year has been inspirational to say the least. Professor Thorpe knows how to lead her students in the right direction while still ensuring they are doing work that is important and meaningful to them. I would not be where I am today without her help and guidance, truly a teacher that should be celebrated!!”
— Berrit Star Stow // Senior // Political Science