Student-faculty duos share benefits of mentored research at UR

April 25, 2022

RESEARCH & INNOVATION

From researching barriers to organ transplants to understanding copyright laws around graffiti, the University of Richmond student-mentor research model is replicated across campus.

A sampling of this research was on display as four student-faculty pairs from across campus gathered during a panel, as part of the inauguration weekend slate of events.

Amara Nwangwu, a senior, works with psychology professor Camilla Nonterah researching barriers to kidney transplantation and access to care.

“I’ve gotten to interact with patients that have undergone transplantation, and I’ve gained perspective from it,” Nwangwu said. “I have future plans to be a physician, and it’s really informed the population that I want to serve, what type of provider I want to be, and what communities I want to give back to.”

Under the mentorship of law professor Chris Cotropia, Michaela Morrissey, a third-year law student, recently published an article in the University of Richmond Law Review, about graffiti copyright laws involving Black Lives Matter street art on Monument Avenue.

“After going through thousands of these documents, I learned the importance of detail,” Morrissey said. “It is critical to read every page of a case. That’s something that I’ll be taking with me in the future.”

Crystal Hoyt, professor of leadership studies, is overseeing the honors thesis of Ally Osterberg, a senior leadership studies major, researching the intersection of donations and ethics.

“Working with Dr. Hoyt taught me to study what I’m passionate about,” Osterberg said. “I credit my time with her as to why I’m going to graduate school next year.”

And Julie Pollock, chemistry professor, and Makayla Callender, a senior chemistry major, are researching disease development and progression and antibiotic resistant diseases.

“I learned that I am a capable scientist,” Callender said. “It may seem hard, but if I believe in it and trust in myself and my instincts, I can get it done. Through the work I’ve been doing, I have found a love for actually seeing data tell a story.”

Mentored research is one of the pillars of a University of Richmond education. Every continuing, full-time, degree-seeking University of Richmond undergraduate student is eligible for funding for a summer research or internship experience through The Richmond Guarantee and a variety of other sources, including support from faculty grant funding.

“At our core we are a student-centered institution with vibrant programs in the arts, sciences, business, social sciences, humanities, and leadership — working in concert with distinctive graduate programs in law, business, and other areas,” said Carol Parish, associate provost for academic integration, who noted during the panel event that the student-mentor researchers were four of hundreds that could have appeared on the stage. “A hallmark of a UR education is the many ways that students can gain real-world experiences.”

This model is one of the many reasons President Kevin Hallock, who moderated the event, was drawn to the University of Richmond.

“The individual attention our faculty provide is a hallmark of a Richmond education, and mentored research is an important part of that,” Hallock said. “I’m proud of our faculty’s creativity and dedication to providing our students with meaningful research experiences, and I’m excited that we have students who are hungry to engage with our faculty in research opportunities.”