The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is pleased to announce Dr. Cecilia Pang, Theatre and Dance, as the recipient of the 2019 UROP Outstanding Mentor Award. 

The UROP Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes a CU Boulder faculty member for their role mentoring a current undergraduate working on research, scholarly and creative projects in any major.  Dr. Pang was nominated by mentee Sean Guderian and selected from numerous student nominations speaking to the value of mentorship and the transformative experience of partnering with CU Boulder’s world-class faculty. Recipients have the option to award an assistantship to an undergraduate of their choosing, and all nominees will be honored at the UROP Best Practices Colloquium next fall.

Receiving honorable mention recognition are Dr. Allison Anderson, Aerospace and Engineering Sciences; Dr. Michael Marshak, Chemistry; Dr. Carolyn Crow, Geological Sciences; and Dr. Mark Whisman, Psychology and Neuroscience.  Excerpts from student nominations, short project descriptions and faculty bios are included below.

Outstanding Mentor 


Cecilia Pang

Cecilia Pang

Dr. Cecilia J. Pang is first and foremost a theatrical director who brings an east-west fusion aesthetics to her work. She directs a diverse offering of theatre genres and styles from every era. Additionally, she is a documentary filmmaker and has produced films on Immigrant Opera Artists, Cantonese Opera Education, Artists and Motherhood. She has also published book chapters, articles and reviews and is a recognized specialist on the development of Chinese Opera in the United States. But her research portfolio extends beyond the Asian theatre to include any subject that deals with Creativity, the guiding dogma for her research, teaching and service. 

Learn More About Cecilia Pang

Cecilia Pang

Theatre and Dance

Associate Professor, Director of Libby RAP

Nominating Student: Sean Guderian

Dr. Cecilia Pang sees the future artists her students will become, and wastes no time in getting us there.

It’s like she throws up two ladders as tall as skyscrapers, grips the first in one hand and gestures toward the second as if to say, “Come on! We got climbing to do! You were always meant to be up there, among the clouds, and I’m going to climb with you. But we need to be quick, because I gotta climb back down and help my next student up.”

At times I wanted to give up. I was scared. I had too many questions and not enough answers! Who was I to decide what an audience deserved to hear from individuals who had been through some of the worst life has to offer? She’d just say, “You won’t learn to do this work on your own if I just tell you the answers. All the tools you need are right in front of you. Let's use them.” So we did.

When I think about how Dr. Pang has influenced me as an artist, I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today without her. She is and will always be my first mentor—someone who has helped me discover more about myself than I ever imagined possible.

Project: How to Leave a Battlefield

"How to Leave a Battlefield" explores the experiences of local American veterans after they have returned from war using their own words through staged testimonial theater. My role is that of an artistic field journalist, gathering recordings of service men and women in Colorado. After transcribing the recordings into text, I constructed a testimonial theater script and produced it for performances with peers from my theater BFA in acting class. I think my role is much less that of a playwright, and more of a librarian; I gather and organize so that an audience can better understand, and even be entertained by, the words of veterans. 


Honorable Mention 

Allison Anderson

Allison Anderson

Dr. Allison Anderson's research investigates issues in aerospace biomedical engineering and human physiology in extreme environments. Her focus is to develop technologies to measure and mitigate the body’s adaptations to these unique conditions. Dr. Anderson investigates human performance, biomechanics, and injuries in extravehicular activity (EVA) with wearable sensing systems. She also investigates behavioral health outcomes in isolated, confined environments, investigating the use of virtual reality for attention restoration and relaxation. This work has been extended to assess alternative reality technologies for spacecraft habitat design.

Learn More About Allison Anderson

Allison Anderson

Ann and H.J. Smead Aerospace Engineering Sciences

Assistant Professor

Nominating Student: Shaylah Wood

Dr. Allison Anderson excels at searching out opportunities for her students and has provided me with wonderful learning experiences.  

I’ve learned about all the projects in her lab, which has opened my eyes to problems and technologies I didn’t even know existed.  I met, not only other researchers working on similar projects, but got exposed to a wide range of research happening in the bioastronautics realm.

Dr. Anderson has set up weekly group meetings with everyone in her lab group, which have been a great chance to get feedback and ideas. I have always felt like an important member of the team.  

I think it’s important for research professors to treat their students as people and to take an interest in their lives. Dr. Anderson has been nothing but kind and thoughtful in regards to her students, myself included.

Project: Characterization of Spacesuit Wearer Joint Angle Kinematics Using Inertial Measurement Unit Arrays and Strain Sensors

Current spacesuit designers are unable to observe suit-wearer interactions, which can lead to injuries during extravehicular activity and ground training, with some injuries being chronic and requiring surgery. To this end, we are developing a wearable sensor system to observe the dynamics of the interaction between spacesuits and their wearers.  I am a senior working on the hardware aspects of this project. Currently, I am working on designing and implementing strain sensors that will measure joint angles of the spacesuit user. This data will be used in conjunction with data from inertial measurement  unit (IMU) arrays in a sensor fusion approach to very accurately measure the joint angles. Specifically, we are  working towards a 3-sigma estimation error of no more than 1.5 degrees. Last year, I worked on printed circuit boards to implement the IMUs, along with Python programs to configure and poll the IMUs.

Michael Marshak

Michael Marshak

Dr. Michael Marshak's research focuses on the fabrication of revolutionary molecules and materials with applications in efficiency and sustainable energy. A few of his current focuses include metal oxide materials, catalysis and new ligand design, batteries for the off-grid home, and indirect alcohol fuel cells.

Learn More About Michael Marshak

Michael Marshak


Assistant Professor

Nominating Student: Logan Schwanz

Dr. Michael Marshak provided me the instruction and trust to grow as a student, researcher and scientist.

He helped me understand the physical aspects of computation by frequently meeting with me to evaluate my progress and introduce more complex topics and experiments. Without his guidance, it would have been easy to lose myself in the the seas of equations and theories that accompany computational work.  

While I may not have had complete confidence in myself, Dr. Marshak had that confidence in me. It meant that I would depend on him less; however, he never supported me any less. He always put his trust in me that I would succeed. He treats me as a respected member of the group and listens to my expertise before giving his own.

As I started to become independent, I learned it was not the end of the world to mess up an experiment. Not everything I did was under a microscope. Dr. Marshak’s trust that I would complete the tasks he set out for me gave me confidence that no matter how tough the project was, I would eventually reach that goal.

Project: Application of Benzyne in the Synthesis of Biphenyls in Sterically Hindered B-Diketonate Ligands

The purpose of this project is to develop a benzyne-based alternative to Suzuki Cross-Coupling in the synthesis of biphenyls in sterically hindered β-Diketonate ligand production. Using this alternative would be a cheaper and safer alternative to the Suzuki Cross-Coupling reaction. Also, by extension, the synthesis of sterically-hindered β-diketonate ligands would also be optimized, for they would be able to be performed with less cost or risk to health. In the short term, researchers stand to benefit from the optimized process. In the long term, the aid to develop new catalysts will lead to new, cheaper, more efficient and safe reactions.

Carolyn Crow

Carolyn Crow

Dr. Carolyn Crow is part of one of the teams selected to analyze never opened lunar samples from the Apollo missions to the Moon. She is a co-principal investigator on the team led by Jessica Barns at the University of Arizona that focuses on hydrogen-bearing minerals in lunar soil.

Learn More About Carolyn Crow

Carolyn Crow

Geological Sciences

Research Associate

Nominating Student: Evan Tucker

Dr. Carolyn Crow invested in me as a student—not just project outcomes.

Over the past year and a half, I dove headfirst into the unknown—not just in research, but also with my future plans. In these pursuits, Carolyn stepped up to help me navigate through the boundary.

Despite my relative inexperience in the field, Carolyn has always treated me as a colleague, and I have never felt as though I worked beneath her.  We have established mutual trust where I believe in her vision of the project and she trusts me to execute the research as I see fit. 

She has listened to my ideas and helped me figure out how to implement them. I often found myself stuck debugging code for the project; Carolyn was always happy to meet with me, even if it meant spending two hours tracking down a minor syntax error.

Instead of providing me with answers, Carolyn gave me the tools to build my own conclusions. Professionally and personally, I would not be where I am without Carolyn as my mentor.

Project: Investigating the Impact Histories of Meteorites

The goal of this project is to understand the thermal and impact histories of meteorite samples using argon (Ar) isotopic dating methods. The project will be conducted in two stages: (1) create a MATLAB program to model Ar-Ar thermochronology data and (2) conduct a large meta-analysis of existing meteorite data to determine the thermal and impact histories. The first stage will be completed in summer 2018, and the second stage will be completed during academic year 2018-2019. The results of this project will establish proof of concept for a proposal to analyze more meteorite samples.

Mark Whisman

Mark Whisman

Dr. Mark Whisman's research focuses on the role of intimate relationships such as marriage on the onset, course, severity, and treatment of psychopathology, with a particular emphasis on depression. In addition, he studies the association between intimate relationship functioning and physical health and well-being. He is also interested in the efficacy of couple-based interventions in the prevention and treatment of mental and physical health problems. Another major focus of Dr. Whisman's research is on cognitive theory, particularly rumination, and cognitive therapy of depression.

Learn More About Mark Whisman

Mark Whisman

Psychology and Neuroscience

Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Nominating Student: Bailey Starritt

Dr. Mark Whisman made a massive, immeasurable difference in my life, and I know he’s done that for others as well.

I like to call my experience with Dr. Whisman my “build your own mentorship,” because he was always ready to help with what I needed—instead of making all the decisions without my input.

I wasn’t familiar with the processes and hadn’t yet taken a research methods course before we met, but Dr. Whisman saw potential in me and offered me a position in his lab.  His belief in me has allowed me to believe in myself and continues to encourage me to seek new opportunities—because I believe I am deserving of them.

His care and guidance have allowed me to develop my skills to be a competitive candidate for graduate school and other professional opportunities.  I couldn’t be more grateful for him and his mentorship.

Project: Partner Behavior, Motivational Systems, and Marital Adjustment: An Integrative Model

This project seeks to examine whether individual differences in two motivational systems that underlie behavior and affect–the behavioral activation system (BAS) and behavioral inhibition system (BIS)–moderate associations between positive and negative partner behavior and marital adjustment. I hypothesize that positive behavior will be more associated with marital adjustment for people higher in BAS, whereas negative behavior will be more associated with adjustment for people higher in BIS. There are no published studies examining the proposed integrative model, which will be conducted as part of a larger study on marital adjustment, individual differences, and psychopathology.

Previous UROP Mentor Award Recipients