2017 Nancy Mergler Undergraduate Research Mentor award given to Dr. Liangzhong (Shawn) Xiang
In addition to the obvious effort that Shawn is extending to developing undergraduate students through individual mentoring in his lab (see quotes below), Shawn is also supportive of the Office of Undergraduate Research efforts to expand course-based research. In his first semester teaching and entirely on his own, he added a small research project to the sophomore Digital Signals and Filtering course, a notoriously difficult and theoretical gateway course for electrical and computer engineering students. To enhance the educational outcomes of the research project, the next semester he applied for and received an inaugural Graduate Research Guide award from the Office of Undergraduate Research (O.U.R.). That award paid a graduate student to help coach the 24 student teams on research skills. Shawn was very eager to work with the O.U.R. to learn more about course-based research and to provide the best learning opportunity he could for Gallogly College of Engineering students.
Student comments included:
“… He is never negative about our work. He is always positive pushing us forward. In fact, today I am meeting with him to discuss a scholarship he is helping me apply for.”
"Dr. Xiang always has many undergraduate research assistants and he makes sure everyone gets the chance to contribute to a project and that everyone is learning. He also allows undergraduates who have been in the lab for multiple semesters to take on their own projects, which in my experience is very rare.”
"Like most labs we have a large range of research expertise. We have post Doc, Graduate students, and undergrads. I started with Dr. Xiang a year and a half ago. I started slow working under a post Doc and helping Dr. Xiang with manuscript editing. Now with the help of Dr. Xiang I received a great fellowship and now I head my own photoacoustic microscopy system, as an undergrad. I never felt pushed or over extended, Dr. Xiang simply guided me well.”
"Along with the group meetings and his classes he teaches, Dr. Xiang always finds time to come into the lab and help us hands on with the research. He of course offers praise when things go well. During the group meetings, Dr. Xiang always offers constructive criticism on ideas he has for improvement or a problem a group is having. But also he will find time, especially for the undergrads to come in and look at their system or problem and work with them to help.”
"Unlike the majority of the lab members who have engineering backgrounds, I am a biology/pre-med major. It was difficult for me to familiarize with our research project, which is largely engineering based. Dr. Xiang understood the difficulty and provided me with an extensive amount of explanation and helpful resources. He pointed out to me that my background in biology can contribute to the research in a unique, important way. He then suggested me to do experiments with biological objects such as zebra fish and bacteria, where my area of knowledge can be put into use. In addition, he gave me helpful suggestions regarding my preparation for medical school application, and offers to write me letters of recommendation when I apply.”