In 2007, the David and Terry Peak Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award was established through a large endowment from the Peaks. This enables an undergraduate researcher to be recognized for their dedication to research at Utah State.
In January, the Peaks created a larger endowment to fund two awards on campus: Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year and the Joyce Kinkead honors thesis of the year.
Prior to the expansion of this endowment, each college would choose an Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year to recognize for their efforts. Now, there will be an overall university mentor award given each year.
Susannah French, an associate professor in the Biology Department, was the first to receive the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award. She received this award during Research Week at the Faculty Mentor Reception.
“Even though my primary role is as a research faculty, I view mentoring students in research as the most important part of my job and also the most fulfilling. Participation in research is a key component of student education regardless of their career path,” French said about mentorship. “In an academia where most research and career milestones are intangible, it is highly rewarding to see the marked growth, development, and success of student mentees.”
Scott Bates, Associate Vice President for Research, realizes the importance of the funding for the undergraduate research program.
“The Peak’s contributions allow us to recognize some of the most hard working people on campus: undergraduate research mentors,” Bates said. “It is a wonderful thing that these two really great mentors decided to continue, and expand, support for undergraduate researchers and mentors at Utah State.”
The Peaks have been members of the Utah State community for over 20 years. David is a professor in the Physics Department, and Terry is a professor in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology and social work program director. They each have taken on the role of research mentor many times in their careers.
The endowment will provide an ongoing and permanent support of undergraduate research into the future. It highlights the importance of mentorship as the cornerstone of undergraduate research on the Utah State campus.
Writer: Bentlee Rice | Office of Research and Graduate Studies | firstname.lastname@example.org