UNCG Campus Weekly

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Olav Rueppell receives the 2015 Mid-Career Mentoring Award

Photo of Dr. Olav RueppellDr. Olav Rueppell has won the 2015 Mid-Career Mentoring Award from the Biology Division of the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR).

“This was a strongly contested award with many deserving candidates, but Dr. Rueppell’s strengths as an undergraduate research mentor made his nomination package rise to the top,” the awards committee chair said.

A professor in the Department of Biology, he is the leader of the UNCG Social Insect Lab. “I use honey bees as my main model to study a wide variety of exciting biological questions,” he says. “Specifically, I am interested in the genetics of complex traits, genomics, social behavior, and aging. In addition, my students and I address the urgent problem of honey bee health by studying the interactions of parasitic Varroa mites, viruses, and their honey bee hosts.”

Why is mentoring important? “Only a small part of a university education consists of classroom learning of facts,” he explains. “Mentored undergraduate research is a very intensive experience for student that teaches many critical skills, most of which are directly applicable to situations in professional careers. To name a few: critical thinking, problem solving, team-working, and communication. It fosters their natural curiosity and gives their studies meaning, particularly when they can connect their research project to class material. I can serve as a personal role model when I connect to my undergraduate students, some of which I see on an almost daily basis during their research. Additionally, students learn some advanced techniques and methodologies in detail, which can be a key strength for their future job prospects or applications to graduate school. Finally, they experience the research world and understand the inner workings of the university and scientific enterprise. Our societies needs citizens that appreciate how science actually works and that universities are much more than a mere extension of high schools. I consider mentored undergraduate research across many disciplines one key strength of UNCG that we can be very proud of.”

See additional post at http://www.northcarolina.edu/?q=node%2F3578.