Called “the most influential voice in my college career thus far” by one of his students, MU assistant professor of chemical engineering Matthew Bernards was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for 2013.
The Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award recognizes the dedication of faculty who advise undergraduates in their research projects and creative and scholarly activities.
“It is a great reassurance that all of the late nights are worth it because my efforts actually are making a lasting impression,” Bernards says. “At the same time, it is also a testament to the quality of undergraduate students that I have had the opportunity to work with in a research setting. If they were not capable of doing high quality research, I don’t believe they would have ever reached the point where they would consider me for such recognition.”
In his lab, Bernards gives undergraduates an independent project with the hope that they will be able to answer and important scientific question.
“Because each student has their own individual project, they must learn to ask questions of themselves, their group mates and me in order to be successful,” Bernards says. “This maturation process is fun to watch and guide because it is a little different with each student. It is also a constant reminder of how and why I got into research.”
One student mentored by Bernards said his mentorship “led me to realize the possibilities available in a post-graduate degree in biomaterials engineering. My work and time spent as an undergraduate researcher in the Bernards Group has been paramount to my time at MU.”
In nominating Bernards for this award, one MU senior says Bernards “is truly invested in his students learning the science behind procedures and fosters an inviting laboratory environment that causes undergraduate students to return semester after semester.”
Another student nomination calls Bernards “approachable and motivating.” The nominator went on to say, “I try to achieve my research goals not only for myself, but for my mentor who has taken so much time to train and inspire me.”
For Bernards, his rewards come by seeing the students succeed.
“I really enjoy watching the students grow as individuals,” Bernards says.