Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Lawrence, Ross Friedman honoured for mentorship

  Posted on: April 11, 2017

Donald Lawrence, Professor in Visual Arts, honoured for his commitment to undergraduate research.

Dr. Cynthia Ross Friedman, right, receiving the 2017 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, alongside Dylan Ziegler, who received the Canadian Botanical Association’s Western Regional Undergraduate Conference’s Best Botany Poster Award at TRU’s Undergraduate Research and Innovation Conference earlier this month.

What does it take to be an exceptional undergraduate research mentor?

TRU’s Dr. Cynthia Ross Friedman and Donald Lawrence set the standard, and for their long-time contributions, have been named as recipients of the 2017 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.

The award celebrates faculty members who actively help students explore, inquire and engage in new knowledge creation by providing meaningful guidance and support. Ross Friedman and Lawrence embody these ideals, a fact clearly communicated by those who nominated them for the distinction.

“(Ross Friedman) is always open and receptive to new ideas, and she inspires her students to be creative and bold,” wrote Dallas Fraser, who is currently completing an undergraduate honours thesis under Ross Friedman’s supervision.

“Her leadership inspired me to become a better scientist and a better person,” echoed Christina Horst, who worked with Ross Friedman on a directed studies course.

“She has expanded on my undergraduate experience at Thompson Rivers University by granting me opportunities I would likely never get under other supervisors,” wrote undergraduate researcher, and nominator Dylan Ziegler.

Ross Friedman called the honour “deeply meaningful.”

“I take great pride in seeing these students receiving their degrees at convocation, as I feel I have contributed in some way to their success. In a similar fashion, those students share this award with me,” she said.

Glowing accolades also poured in for Donald Lawrence, who has been an advocate and mentor to students throughout his 28 years at TRU.

“What makes him a legendary mentor isn’t simply that he makes time, but that he seems genuinely happy to do so. That he can be attentive and make each mentored student feel considered, not simply because they are in front of him, but because he genuinely cares,” wrote Lea Bucknell, Visual Arts Studio Technician, and TRU alumna.

“Don’s door has always remained open in our department, and he has opened countless more for me. I do not believe I can truly articulate how much he has influenced my education and personal life,” wrote Undergraduate Research Ambassador Levi Glass.

“Don’s unequivocal advocacy for research in visual arts was what first inspired me to pursue research in a field not typically associated with the term … Don changed the way that myself and other students perceive research,” wrote Bachelor of Fine Arts student Garnet Dirksen.

While Lawrence said he’s pleased to receive the award, he noted that while his goal is to provide students with opportunities to gain enhanced physical, technical and conceptual skills that are part of art-making, the same students bring an added richness to his own research projects.

“They have a way of bringing themselves into the projects — they’re far more hip  to emerging cultural trends than I am — and they are essential in engaging younger audiences.”


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