2020 Mentor Awards




The Office of the Provost offers awards to recognize the important role mentors play in fostering undergraduates’ intellectual, personal and professional growth through participation in high-impact practices including research, scholarly and creative endeavors. These awards provide faculty members, academic staff,  graduate students and post-doctoral fellows with recognition for their excellence in mentoring undergraduates and their contribution to our students’ Wisconsin Experience. The awards provide $2,000 of university expendable funds.

Mentoring awards are presented annually in April at the Undergraduate Symposium. Due to COVID-19, we are happy to provide this digital presentation to celebrate the 2020 Mentor Award recipients.

Congratulations 2020 awardees: Wendy Crone, Helen Blackwell, William Gartner, Elise Hopman, and Sarah Stefanos!

Wendy Crone

Professor, Department of Engineering Physics, College of Engineering

Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics, University of Minnesota, 1998
Master of Science in Engineering (Solid Mechanics), Brown University, 1991
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mechanics with Honors, University of Illinois, 1990

2017-2022 Karen Thompson Medhi Professor, College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin – Madison
2016-2023 Discovery Fellow, Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Professor Wendy Crone has mentored 45 undergraduate students. In a former mentee’s letter of support nominating Professor Crone for a mentor award, they wrote: “My experience is just one example of dozens of scientists who owe much of their scientific success to the early mentorship provided by Wendy”. Professor Crone’s expertise in working with new researchers is highlighted in her book Introduction to Engineering Research which includes resources and advice on finding a research position, developing expertise in a field, literature search and citation, documentation of results, addressing unexpected challenges, communicating research results, research ethics, and personal health and happiness. Professor Crone also co-developed Engineering Physics, a research-based undergraduate major, that introduces students to the skills needed for successful research including interacting with a research mentor, literature search, technical writing and presentations, and working on teams. The Engineering Physics program has had 59 students complete an undergraduate research thesis and graduate. In addition to mentoring and creating resources and programs to support and encourage undergraduate research, Professor Crone heavily involves students in the publication process. Approximately 40% of Professor Crone’s recent peer-reviewed publications include undergraduate students as coauthors.

Helen Blackwell

Professor, Department of Chemistry, College of Letters and Science

Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, 1999
Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Oberlin College, 1994

2020 STAR Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA)
2019 WARF Named Professorships – Norman C. Craig Professor of Chemistry
2019, 2018, 2017, 2014 UW–Madison Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship

Professor Helen Blackwell has mentored 40 undergraduate students. A former mentee wrote the following in their letter of support for nominating Professor Blackwell for a mentor award: “As a woman in science, Helen has been an amazing role model and someone to look up to for so many undergraduate students who may feel underrepresented in the field. She has built a lab community that is productive, fun to work in, and nurturing for undergraduates in the sciences.” Professor Blackwell encourages her undergraduate students to contribute substantially to research projects at a high level. Her publication record includes many research articles with undergraduate coauthors. In addition to publishing, Professor Blackwell’s undergraduate students also present their research at conferences. Her confidence in and support of undergraduates sharing their work has encouraged many students to present their research findings nationally amongst senior scientists.

William Gartner

Senior lecturer, Department of Geography, College of Letters and Science

Ph.D. in Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003
Master of Science in Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1993
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Beloit College, 1985

2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 Award Recipient from the Honored Instructors Program, University Housing Academic Initiatives, University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Dr. William Gartner started teaching Geography 565 in 2009, he has since mentored a total of 132 student groups and 436 individual students. . In their letter of support nominating Dr. Gartner for a mentor award, a former mentee wrote: “Bill is not a man who prides himself on awards, but instead the accomplishments of those around him”. Dr. Gartner is dedicated to the success of his students. He teaches Geography 565 in addition to overseeing independent research projects, despite his position not requiring he take any on. Geography 565 is a capstone course designed for students to learn how to conduct a research project. Dr. Gartner teaches students how to do geographical research, gather and analyze primary data and present findings. He also teaches students how to apply the concepts, theories, and tools they have learned in their major coursework to a research project. Students describe Dr. Gartner as an exceptional teacher and mentor who is invested in his students’ learning and research experience.

Elise Hopman

Graduate student, Department of Psychology, College of Letters and Science

(2021) Ph.D. in Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Master of Science in Psychology – Cognitive and Cognitive Neuroscience Area, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2017
Master of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience – Language and Communication, Radboud University, 2015
Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics, Radboud University, 2012

2017-2019 Hertz Travel Award, Psychology Department, UW-Madison ($750, $1000, $750)
2018 Graduate Lecturer Award, Psychology Department, UW-Madison ($3400)
2018 Best student talk, 2nd International Symposium on Bilingual and L2 Processing in Adults and Children, TU Braunschweig, Germany
2016, 2018 Menzies Research Awards, Psychology Department, UW-Madison ($500 each)
2017 Grant for talented Dutch researchers obtaining a graduate degree abroad, Prins Bernhard
Cultuurfonds, The Netherlands (€ 5000)
2017 Fellowship, Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, UC – Santa Barbara

Elise Hopman has mentored 11 undergraduate students. In a letter of support nominating Elise for a mentor award, a former mentee wrote: “On top of giving me an amazing opportunity to work on a very unique project that would help build my skills as a writer, she helped me believe in myself academically again, showing me that despite my background, I too am capable of achieving something within higher education. Since the first day I sat in her class until the last day we worked together in the lab, I felt that Elise always made it a priority to ensure my voice was heard, my specific interests were explored, and that my expectations were met.” Undergraduate students mentored by Elise have won many university and national awards, including a Fulbright Research Award. Several students are coauthors with her on publications and have presented research at national and international conferences. Elise’s success as a mentor is attributed to her student-centered approach. Elise encourages her students to proofread each other’s applications and provide feedback to one another. Her mentoring style has created an environment where students support one another in pursuit of their goals and celebrate each other’s contributions and discoveries.

Sarah Stefanos

Graduate student, Department of Sociology, College of Letters and Science

(2020) Joint Ph.D. in Sociology and Environment and Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Master of Science in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016
Master of Arts in International Human Rights Law, American University in Cairo, 2008
Bachelor of Science in Molecular Environmental Biology, University of California-Berkeley, 2004

2018 Future Faculty Partner, University of Wisconsin Teaching Academy, for demonstrated excellence in teaching
2018 Winner, Graduate Peer Mentor Award from the Multicultural Graduate Network for excellence in mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students
2015-2016 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship

Sarah Stefanos has mentored 15 undergraduate students. Her department chair describes her as someone who “truly embodies the ‘Wisconsin Idea’ and makes a difference in our department, our university, Madison, and the global community.” Sarah’s commitment to mentoring expands beyond campus. She is active locally, mentoring high school students, as well as in the global community. Sarah co-founded a renewable energy and sustainable agriculture business in Uganda. There she found a way to pay for five Ugandan undergraduates’ college tuition fees. Sarah has a strong social justice focus and views mentorship as helping her students succeed both personally and professionally. A former mentee shared in their letter of support that despite having finished a class, Sarah sent them an internship position about food equity in Madison. Sarah believed the class project they did with other classmates could be powerful and impactful at the local level. The mentee applied and was accepted. That project is now a web-based resource, the Food Waste and Recovery Guide for the City of Madison and Dane County.

Learn more about Undergraduate Mentoring Awards