2016 Nancy Mergler Undergraduate Research Mentor award given to Dr. Misha Klein

Misha Klein, the 2016 Nancy L. Mergler Faculty Mentor Award for Undergraduate Research recipient, is an Associate Professor in Anthropology. She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s and Gender Studies program and the Center for Social Justice. She earned her PhD from UC-Berkeley in 2002. Focused primarily in Brazil, Dr. Klein’s research examines identity, ethnicity, and race; transnationalism; globalization; and the Jewish diaspora. Her 2012 ethnography, Kosher Feijoada and Other Paradoxes of Jewish Life in São Paulo, describes the complexities of identity and ethnicity in Jewish communities in Brazil. Her undergraduate courses include Cultures of Latin America; Anthropological Perspectives on Globalization; Anthropology of Jews and Jewishness; Cross-Cultural Study of Sex, Gender and Sexuality; Global Cultural Diversity; and Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology.

Dr. Klein has mentored undergraduate students in research related to her areas of interest, but also through using those same social constructs in projects of the students’ own interest and design. Since coming to OU in 2005, she has mentored many undergraduate students as they completed honors and other independent research projects. She has taught almost 1000 additional undergraduates, working closely with them on class research papers and other projects.

Dr. Klein was awarded a Graduate Research Guide for a new course, Race and Ethnicity in Brazil for Spring 2016, but was unable to accept the award as the course was cancelled.

In nominating Dr. Klein for this award, her students detailed her commitment to individualized attention, guidance, and mentorship, her focus on nurturing their growth as scholars and students, and her encouragement for their reaching for opportunities, goals, and awards. Although her selection was based on this nomination, it also serves as recognition of her history of undergraduate mentorship.

Student comments included:

“… the process of beginning my research in the field has been riddled with self-doubt. Dr. Klein does not let me dwell on these thoughts, and reaffirms me in my intelligence and capabilities to ask important questions and develop as a researcher and student. … After every meeting that I have had with Dr. Klein, I leave feeling encouraged. The belief that she has in my ability strengthens my resolve to firmly have faith in myself.”

"Dr. Klein takes the time to go through my writing with me, prodding me to support my assertions with more evidence and clarity, and ultimately to grow in depth of understanding. Feedback from Dr. Klein is always constructive and she will take any amount of time to discuss a concept until I comprehend it clearly.”

"Dr. Klein has been the most supportive and encouraging professor I have known throughout my undergraduate degree. She is constantly bringing my attention to opportunities that are available for me to further my development as a budding scholar of anthropology.”

Connor Sullivan

OU Major: 
Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies
Graduation Year: 
Current Occupation: 
Graduate Student in the OUHSC Audiology Program
Research Mentor(s): 
Dr. Carole Johnson
Describe your undergraduate research/creative experience: 
As part of my degree, I achieved 6 hours of Independent Study at the HSC campus under Dr. Carole Johnson. I also opted to utilize the ability to have Internship Credit through the College of Arts and Sciences for an internship under Mary Delaney. Because of that opportunity, I obtained an Internship at Hearts for Hearing. Hearts for Hearing is a clinic where I worked for several semesters. I also used the Internship Credit opportunity to be an intern for the Hearing, Evaluation, Research, and Outcomes Lab in Oklahoma City under Dr. Johnson. While working at that lab, I opted to begin doing research as an undergraduate because of my experiences in life. I was born with a rather unique form of hearing loss, Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome. When I met Dr. Johnson, we realized that there was only 13 articles published TOTAL on the subject… We also realized that there was a lot of discrepancy on how the disorder was being handled across the field. Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS) is a disorder that impacts up to 15% of patients with Sensorineural Hearing Loss. It’s most common symptoms are fluctuating hearing, dizziness, headaches, and vision difficulties. What’s sad is, is that the only way to truly diagnose LVAS is with a CT scan, which doesn’t always happen. What we are working on is establishing a standard for the field on an appropriate treatment method for patients with LVAS who are having these hearing fluctuations. We are trying to use a combination of my personal story alongside previous articles as well as data we have accumulated to make a strong case to bring LVAS to the attention of the clinicians that are treating the patients daily.
What was the most important thing you learned during your project, or what advice would you give to current undergraduates?: 
My participation in research as an undergraduate was instrumental to my successes as a student. Not only did it help me become a well-rounded student and graduate school applicant, but it also helped me to establish some contacts in the field that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation?: 
Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate. Having been in those shoes, what do yo: 
To never burn any bridges. Always make sure to keep your options open and to make as many connections as you can.
Do you have anything else you would like to share about your research or creative project experience?: 
Sullivan JC, Johnson CE, Danhauer JL, Jilla AM, Winkler, K. (2015). A Survey of Parents on Their Experiences with, Knowledge of, and Attitudes toward Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (LVAS). Paper accepted for presentation at American Auditory Society 2015. Scottsdale, AZ. March 5-7, 2015.Sullivan JC, Johnson CE, Danhauer JL, Jilla AM, Winkler, K. (2015). Parents of Children with LVAS: Learning from their Journeys. Paper accepted for presentation at American Auditory Society 2015. Scottsdale, AZ. March 5-7, 2015.Sullivan JC, Johnson CE, Danhauer JL, & Wolfe J. (2014). Large vestibular aqueduct syndrome and cochlear implantation: Scientific, clinical, and personal perspectives. Paper presented at the Hearing Across the Lifespan Conference in Cernobbio, Italy, June 5, 2014.*Paper also presented as a poster at AudiologyNOW!, Orlando FL*Paper also presented as a poster at Graduate Research, Education, and Technology Day OUHSC*Paper also presented as a poster at the College of Allied Health Research Day

2015 Nancy Mergler Undergraduate Research Mentor award given to Dr. Lloyd Bumm

The Nancy Mergler Undergraduate Research Mentor award was given to Dr. Lloyd Bumm during the Faculty Tribute Award reception this past Thursday afternoon.  Dr. Bumm’s students gave him a very strong nomination by detailing his commitment to individualized attention, guidance, and mentorship, his focus on nurturing their growth as scholars and students, and his encouragement for their reaching for opportunities, goals, and awards.  Although the selection was based on the nominations, Dr. Susan Walden, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, believes the award “also serves as a recognition of [Dr. Bumm’s] history of undergraduate mentorship.”

Dr. Bumm, Associate Professor in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, received his B.S. degree in 1982 from Clarkson University and his Ph.D. in 1991 from Northwestern University. He enjoyed two Postdoctoral research positions and served as a Research Professor before coming to OU in 2001 as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to an Associate Professor in 2007. A main focus of Lloyd’s research is to understand the electronic, and the optoelectronic characteristics of individual molecules: Can one build an electronic device from a single molecule?

It is unusual for a single faculty member to work with a large number of undergraduate students.  Last year Lloyd supervised 9 undergraduates in an incredible variety of research projects which included: Growing gold nanorods, using Matlab to interface Ocean Optics for photoluminescence spectroscopy, building an Ethernet bridge, interfacing photodiode detectors with Matlab, reducing noise from trace-retrace image pairs, designing a nitrogen purged palm wrench, determining ways plasmon mediates growth, understanding bimodal histograms for scanning tunnel microscope images, and measuring the extent of oxidation of decanethiol.

The undergraduate students working with Professor Bumm quickly come to the knowledge that he cares very deeply about their research projects. He provides guidance and encouragement from start to finish. He is characterized as having considerable patience. His feedback in student presentations is thorough and specific. His praise for success is sincere and meaningful. He challenges undergraduate researchers to explore many facets of their research and guides them in developing a deep understanding of the research. His former undergraduate students are grateful for the ways he was able to mentor them throughout their time at OU.

The award, given by the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Office of the Vice-President for Research, recognizes faculty excellence in supporting undergraduate researchers.  The award is named after Provost Nancy Mergler, who initiated Undergraduate Research Day, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the core Honors curriculum when she was director of OU’s Honors Program from 1988-1994.  More details of the award can be found on the Office of Undergraduate Research website by clicking here.