Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale receives Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award

Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale portrait

Professor recognized for mentoring undergraduate researchers

Mili Kuruvilla-Dugdale, assistant professor of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, received the 2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award from the Office of Undergraduate Research. This is the 15th year the awards have been given.

Dr. Kuruvilla-Dugdale runs the Neurogenic Communication Disorders Laboratory studying the loss of communicative skills in patients with ALS and Parkinson’s Disease. Her creative approach to her work brings together techniques from speech science, computer science and neuroimaging. She has mentored 45 undergraduates, including a McNair Scholar, three honors thesis students, and a Discovery Fellow.

Her students write: “When we began working in Dr. Kuruvilla’s lab, we had no idea how much it would shape our education as aspiring speech-language pathologists. Getting involved in research can seem daunting and inaccessible to students, but Dr. Kuruvilla bridged that gap by reaching out personally and encouraging us to participate.”

A colleague notes: “She takes her role as mentor very seriously – connecting with her students daily, always looking for opportunities for them to grow in their lab experiences – whether through honors theses, professional presentations, or submissions of manuscripts or grant proposals.”

Another colleague observes: “One striking aspect of Mili’s mentorship is the way that she prepares her students for their professional presentations. This is evident from the support letters of her students, included in this packet. She is known for sending students to conferences having fully prepared them for every tough question! As a consequence, not surprisingly, they frequently win awards at these conferences.”

Two seniors said: “She was also never afraid to tell us the undiluted truth, which allowed us to learn from our mistakes and grow as people and future professionals. We learned the importance of working hard, being precise, being straightforward, setting goals, problem solving, and knowing when to ask for help, all of which were instrumental to our personal development and confidence.”

Two juniors conclude: “She challenges us to continue to develop our professional skills, to take initiative, and to step out of our comfort zone to seek out the many learning opportunities that research offers. She has created a safe space for us to try new things and look for ways to encourage and support us as we grow as students and as people.”