Creating a welcoming, nurturing environment for young researchers
Apr 10, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
Georgia Tech has selected Adegboyega “Yomi” Oyelere for the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor – Senior Faculty Award The award recognizes senior faculty who have had sustained outstanding achievement in mentoring undergraduates in research.
An associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Oyelere is an outstanding mentor. Students and colleagues paint a picture of a compassionate, approachable mentor who does everything possible to help students soar – encouraging questions, offering constructive criticism, and most important, noticing individuals’ potential and urging them to be their best.
Committed to providing opportunities for those who are historically underrepresented in the sciences, Oyelere takes many minority students under his wings. Half of his former mentees are women.
The roster of undergraduate students Oyelere has mentored is impressive. Thirteen have been co-authors on peer-reviewed journal articles, three are master’s students, nine are Ph.D. students, and two are postdoctoral associates. Among them are a Fulbright Scholar, an SREB dissertation fellow, and recipients of GAANN fellowships. Many more are working in the industry, for companies such as Walgreen’s, Pinova Holdings, and Kaiser Permanente.
It can be intimidating for an undergraduate to work in a research laboratory. But Oyelere strives to make his undergraduate students feel at home. “There was not a time that I did not feel supported and included,” a former undergraduate researcher remarks. “He helped me realize I could accomplish much more than I anticipated.”
“From our first meeting, Dr. Oyelere was invested in my success,” another student says. When applying to work in a research lab, this student had a low GPA and no research experience. Among the faculty who received the application, only Oyelere accepted this student. Oyelere has since mentored this student, who has now earned a master’s degree, won multiple prestigious research grants, and is in a Ph.D. program.
“I would not be where I am today without his guidance,” the student says. Others share the sentiment.
A former mentee who now also mentors undergraduate research students says, “I aspire to provide a welcoming research environment for them, just like the environment Dr. Oyelere created for me.” When a former student one day calls for career guidance, this former mentee says, “I hope I would be able to provide objective and informative advice, just as Dr. Oyelere had once given me.”
“Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that Georgia Tech undergraduates have two key attributes for success as a researcher – passion and enthusiasm,” Oyelere says. “Through creating a welcoming and nurturing lab environment, I’ve always strived to guide my students to align their passion and enthusiasm in order to reach their potential and set them on a path toward success in their chosen careers. Once they have found their fit, I enjoy watching my students blossom and I take pride in their success.”