Without the dedication of UI faculty and staff mentors, there would be no undergraduate research.  


To recognize the work that mentors put in to make their student's experiences successful, OUR created the Distinguished Mentor Award (DMA).  Students are invited to nominate their faculty research mentor as a huge "Thank you!" for the time and talent their mentors have given.

Caroline Clay


Each year, OUR recognizes two faculty/staff members who have been nominated by their student mentee(s). All faculty and staff who mentor students in research, scholarly, or creative work are eligible for nomination.  Any nominated mentors will be notified, making nomination alone a token of gratitude from the student.


Distinguished Mentor Awards come with the following benefits:

  • An OUR Research Fellow of their choice for the upcoming summer or academic year.  
  • A beautiful award to be displayed proudly at home or the office.
  • Recognition at the annual award ceremony hosted by the Office of the President recognizing faculty and staff achievements.

Read about previous Distinguished Mentor Award winners.


To receive the DMA, a member of the UI faculty or professional and scientific staff must be nominated by an undergraduate student before each year's established deadline.  Students who wish to nominate their mentor may do so by submitting an essay focusing on why their mentor deserves to be recognized as a Distinguished Mentor.  Essays should be no more than 500 words and should be submitted using the link above.  The following questions are examples of topics that may help students in their writing:

  • What specific qualities make this mentor a perfect candidate for the Distinguished Mentor Award?
  • How has your mentor affected your undergraduate education at the UI?
  • How has your mentor assisted you in overcoming obstacles in your research?
  • How has your mentor helped you mature as a student?

  There is no limit to how many students can nominate a single mentor.  If multiple students wish to nominate the same mentor, they may do so collaboratively in one submission essay or they may do so individually.​ Only undergraduates may be involved in the nomination.

Congratulations to our 2023-2024 Distinguished Mentor Award Recipients!

Dr. Bob McMurray

Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Learn more about Dr. McMurray

Caroline Clay

Professor, Theatre Arts

Learn more about Caroline Clay