Undergraduate Research Peer Mentor Program

hands-shakingThe Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) is pleased to announce a new Undergraduate Research Peer Mentor Program. Research has shown that peer mentoring programs are effective for both the peer mentors and the mentees. For example, peer mentors report gains in communication skills, improved career preparation, and enjoyment of the experience. Mentees report that peer mentors enhance their experiences by helping them feel more connected to the university. Peer mentoring programs have been associated with increased retention rates (Abeywardana et al., 2020; Dolan & Johnson, 2009; Thiry et al., 2011). 

Peer mentors will work to promote undergraduate research at KSU in general and will specifically work with students in the First-Year Scholars Program. Peer mentors will work approximately 3-4 hours per week and will be paid $10 per hour. There are opportunities for more hours per week if your schedule permits. Please check out the information below for more details on this program. 

    • andrea-brenner

      Andrea Brenner

      Andrea is a senior majoring in environmental science, specifically chemistry. She was a Birla Carbon Scholar in the summer of 2021 and continues to conduct research in two different labs. She does research with Dr. Bharat Baruah on corrosion prevention of aluminum alloy and Dr. Daniel Ferreira on removing radiocesium isotopes from Fukushima soil. She recently placed first runner-up for undergraduate research in last semester's Kennesaw State Symposium of Student Scholars and is in the process of moving from undergraduate research to graduate research in the fall. While research and courses take up much of her schedule, she still finds time to volunteer as a trail ambassador at Kennesaw Mountain, go for a swim, and hang out with friends. Andrea is ready to help others learn and grow academically and personally. She looks forward to meeting First- Year Scholars and getting to know them.

      Email: abrenner@students.kennesaw.edu

      • Gabrielle Jone

        Gabrielle Jones

        Gabrielle is a sophomore majoring in media and entertainment and minoring in music and business entertainment. At KSU she is involved with women's club soccer and the Thrive program. On the research side, she is involved with the women writers of film and television research project with Professor Anna Weinstein where she placed second runner up in the Kennesaw State Symposium of Student Scholars in the spring of 2021. Outside of school, she loves to explore new places and watch movies. After graduating, Gabrielle wants to write and direct shows for the film and television industry. 

        Email: gjone108@students.kennesaw.edu

        • Cristy Kennedy

          Cristy Kennedy

          Cristy’s research focuses on using health data and storytelling to help create actionable designs and systems that foster change. Cristy began research in 2020 with her mentor, Dr. Sara Doan, on her First-Year Scholar project, “Delayed or Relayed Messaging: How COVID-19 Information Circulates Differently in the South,” which analyzes qualitative COVID-19 health messaging to observe any gaps or misunderstandings in communication. As an interactive design major, Cristy is familiar with creating visual representations of data using various design softwares. Additionally, Cristy’s research experiences have allowed her to gain competency in several data processing softwares. Cristy looks forward to meeting this year's First-Year Scholars and helping them grow and expand academically and within their research fields.

          Email: ckenne63@students.kennesaw.edu

          • Daisy McGrath

            Daisy McGrath

            Daisy is currently working towards a master’s degree in integrative biology. She has been at Kennesaw State University since 2016 and earned a biology degree with a concentration in biotech and a minor in math. Daisy has done research in bioinformatics since her sophomore year. She is the only student in Georgia to have won the American Society of Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fund, a prestigious scholarship awarded to twenty students nationally every year. Both of her siblings have gone to KSU, one in business, the other in nursing. Daisy said that college is hard; hopefully, she can help.

            Email: dmcgrat1@students.kennesaw.edu

            • Ariel Owens

              Ariel Owens

              Ariel is a dual major in anthropology and Asian Studies at Kennesaw State University. She also works as a supplemental instructor for the introduction to anthropology course. On the research side, Ariel is working with Dr. Tsai-Tien Tseng to create enhanced bioinformatic screening methods for the detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in ancient DNA. She has presented this research at multiple conferences, including the Symposium of Student Scholars where she was awarded first runner-up for best presentation in 2020. Ariel said that participating in research has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her undergraduate career, and that is why she is here as a peer mentor for the Office of Undergraduate Research. 

              Email: aowens77@students.kennesaw.edu

            • Any undergraduate or graduate student who has experience doing research is eligible to participate. We especially encourage applicants in these categories:

              1. Students who have previously served as First-Year Scholars themselves
              2. Students with extensive research experience (1+ years) and who have presented at conferences and/or published
              3. Graduate students, especially in disciplines heavily represented in the First-Year Scholars Program (see the entire list of projects here). 

              We welcome applications from all students, including students from underrepresented minority groups.

            • Graduate students who are serving as a GRA/GTA are NOT eligible (graduate assistantships' contracts stipulate no other paid work at the university). Graduate students who do not have a paid graduate assistantship are welcome to apply.

              Undergraduates who work on campus can work no more than 20 hours per week across all of their positions. If you take a Peer Mentor position, you can only work about 16 hours per week at the other campus job.

              Students can have no more than 2 student assistant positions at KSU. Students who already have 2 positions would have to drop one to take on this role. Eligibility requirements and student employment parameters can be found on pages 6-8 of the student employment handbook, which you can view here.

            • Peer mentors will serve as ambassadors for undergraduate research. The Office of Undergraduate Research is always trying to increase the visibility of undergraduate research for students. Here are some general activities for peer mentors; specifics will be negotiated with each peer mentor at the start of the experience.

              Peer mentors will:

              • help promote undergraduate research opportunities on campus in various ways (for example, tabling at student events, presentations to student organizations and classes, etc.). 
              • offer workshops on topics that are relevant for undergraduate researchers (for example, presenting at conferences, working effectively in research teams, how to seek out undergraduate research experiences, etc.).
              • meet regularly with students in the First-Year Scholars Program. 
              • help the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) with events and activities, such as orientations and the Symposium of Student Scholars.
              • engage in other activities that support the mission of the Office of Undergraduate Research.
            • Training will be provided to all accepted mentors. Training modules will include the following: 

              • Undergraduate Research Overview (e.g., Office of Undergraduate Research resources and initiatives)
              • Peer Mentor Program Overview (e.g., duties, requirements, time commitment, communication rules)
              • Interpersonal Skills (e.g., communication skills, emotional intelligence)
              • Cultural Skills (e.g., culturally responsive mentoring)
              • Facilitation Skills (e.g., best practices in facilitating a workshop, best practices in working in teams)
              • Campus Resources (e.g., Writing Center, Counseling & Psychological Services, Career Planning & Development, Library, Student Disability Services)
            • The application consists of two parts:

              1. Applicants should complete the form below.
              2. Your primary research mentor should email a letter of recommendation directly to our@kennesaw.edu (no more than one page). Please be sure to give your mentor plenty of time to write this letter -- let them know immediately that you are applying for this position and that the deadline is August 31, 2022. This letter should describe your research experiences under the supervision of this person, how long you've worked together, your work ethic, and your suitability for the peer mentor position for which you are applying. If you've worked with multiple research mentors, please select one (1) to submit this letter of recommendation. If your primary research mentor is unavailable to write this letter (for example, they are on leave this semester or no longer work at KSU), please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at our@kennesaw.edu to arrange an alternative letter.
            • The following information will be used to select peer mentors:

              1. Disciplinary background of the applicant. Because we would like to pair peer mentors with first-year scholars in their discipline or in related disciplines, we will require Peer Mentors to cover the breadth of disciplines represented in the First-Year Scholars Program this year.
              2. Past experience with research. Peer mentors will need to have experience conducting research. Factors that the review committee will consider include: 
                1. The amount of time applicants have spent conducting research
                2. Experience disseminating the research at conferences and/or in publications
                3. Any funding the applicant has received for conducting research
                4. Any awards the applicant has received related to research
              3. Personal characteristics. Peer mentors will need to be responsible, stable, hard workers, reliable, innovative, empathetic, and show a positive attitude and willingness to learn. In addition, peer mentors need to be able to support students with diverse backgrounds and should have excellent organizational and time management skills. 
            • The deadline for applications for the 2022-2023 academic year is Wednesday August 31, 2022. Students will hear back within two weeks regarding the decision. 

            • Students will work for one academic year. Applications will be solicited at the beginning of the Fall semester each year. Hours for each semester will be set to not conflict with your class or other work schedule. 

            • Abeywardana, S. U., Velasco, S., Hall, N., Dillon, J., & Chun, C. A. (2020). Near-peer mentoring in an undergraduate research training program at a large master’s comprehensive institution: The case of CSULB BUILD. Understanding Interventions Journal, 11(1), 1–32. Retrieved from https://www.understandinginterventionsjournal.org/article/12477-near-peer-mentoring-in-an-undergraduate-research-training-program-at-a-large-master-s-comprehensive-institution 

              Dolan, E., & Johnson, D. (2009). Toward a holistic view of undergraduate research experiences: An exploratory study of impact on graduate/postdoctoral mentors. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(6), 487–500. Retrieved from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/166953/ 

              Thiry, H., Laursen, S. L., & Hunter, A. B. (2011). What experiences help students become scientists? A comparative study of research and other sources of personal and professional gains for STEM undergraduates. The Journal of Higher Education, 82(4), 357–388. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/447038