Published: March 26, 2020 By

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is pleased to announce Dr. June Gruber, Assistant Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience Clinical Psychology, and Dr. Celeste Montoya, Associate Professor in Women & Gender Studies and Director of the Miramontes Arts & Sciences Program (MASP), as recipients of this year's Outstanding Mentor Awards. 

The UROP Outstanding Mentor Award recognizes CU Boulder faculty members for their role mentoring current undergraduates working on research, scholarly and creative projects in any major.  Dr. Gruber was nominated by student mentees Elizabeth Hoelscher and Montana Ploe; Dr. Montoya was nominated by student mentee Mariana Galvez Seminario. 

These outstanding mentors were selected from numerous student nominations speaking to the transformative value of mentorship 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.

Excerpts from student nominations appear below.

Honorable Mention


Receiving Honorable Mention recognition are Dr. Tanya Alderete, Integrative Physiology; Dr. Christine Brennan, Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences; Dr. Lisa Corwin, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Dr. Marissa Ehringer, Integrative Physiology; Dr. Leslie Leinwand, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology; Dr. Colleen Reid, Geography; and Dr. Rebecca Safran, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Outstanding Mentor Awards


June Gruber

Positive Emotion and Psychopathology Laboratory

Dr. Gruber's research focuses on positive emotion disturbance by delineating the ways in which positive emotion can go awry and  developing an integrated clinical affective science model of positive emotion disturbance. Her work examines perturbations in positive valence systems in clinical populations characterized by disturbed positive emotion (e.g., bipolar disorder and depression) as well as health community samples of adults and adolescents to delineate the normative function of emotion. 

June Gruber

Psychology and Neuroscience Clinical Psychology


Dr. June Gruber makes exceptional efforts to foster a collaborative environment across labs and disciplines. Not only does she provide students with support for opportunities they present to her, but she also seeks them out on their behalf.   

She strives to individualize research training and tasks in her lab to cater to the needs of all members—and regularly asks for feedback on her performance as a mentor.   

Dr. Gruber pushed us to pursue research in a way we didn’t think possible.  Our love for psychological, clinical and affective science is due to her dedication and support.

Nominating Students: Elizabeth Hoelscher and Montana Ploe

Related Articles: CU-Boulder’s Gruber explores dark side of happinessGroup taps broad expertise to understand emotion


Celeste Montoya

Dr. Montoya’s research primarily focuses on the ways in which women and racial minorities mobilize to enact change. She is interested in how these groups work within and outside of political institutions, domestically and transnationally, and intersectionally. Her work is informed by studies of social movements, public policy, political institutions, political behavior, and gender and race politics.

Celeste Montoya

Women & Gender Studies and
Director, Miramontes Arts & Sciences Program (MASP)


Before I came to CU Boulder, I had no experience with knowledge produced by Latinx people. Then I met Dr. Celeste Montoya and knew as a Latina/x student, I had a place in knowledge production.

She believes that I am an expert in what I do, and she does everything in her power to train me with the skills necessary to succeed.

She is also the person who introduced me to the nonprofit I will serve as Policy Director after graduation.

Nominating Student: Mariana Galvez Seminario

Related Articles: Montoya wins Best Should Teach Gold AwardMontoya receives Craig L. Brians Award; Montoya Receives BFA Excellence in Leadership & Service Award

Honorable Mention


Tanya Alderete

Tanya Alderete

Assistant Professor, Integrative Physiology


Dr. Tanya Alderete enabled us to achieve things we had not thought possible.  She helped us to discover a love for research and statistics—and believe in our ability to do it.

With little prior training, she was able to provide us with the resources to understand the physiologic basis behind her research.  Soon we were conducting independent research projects, preparing our first manuscripts, and presenting our work at conferences.

We have seen our confidence as scientists grow immensely and feel as though we can hold our own in nearly any research setting.

Student Nominators: Maximilian Bailey, Noopur Naik, Savannah Mierau and Zach Morgan


Christine Brennan

Christine Brennan

Assistant Professor, Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences​


My work with Dr. Christine Brennan has undoubtedly been one of the most valuable endeavors of my four years at CU Boulder. 

She was passionate about sharing her research endeavors and did so in an accessible way.  I often spent an hour or two in her office at a time, discussing her ongoing studies and the research process as a whole. 

Although defending a thesis is a daunting task, it feels much less intimidating because of her strong guidance. 

I feel empowered to explore my field with a fierce curiosity.

Student Nominator: Samantha Bartolo


Lisa Corwin

Lisa Corwin

Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology​

Having Dr. Lisa Corwin as a mentor is one of my greatest privileges as an undergraduate. Her dedication to my professional development has been unwavering, as has her ability to provide ongoing support.

She ensured that I was exposed to the theory behind the statistics we were using to analyze our results, although it was not strictly necessary. 

Dr. Corwin recognizes the importance of networking, especially for early-career women in STEM, and has actively assisted me in making connections and propelling my professional development.

I view education in a different light after being mentored in her projects.

Student Nominator: Elizabeth Woolner​


Marissa Ehringer

Marissa Ehringer

Associate Professor, Integrative Physiology


Dr. Marissa Ehringer saw my potential even though I didn’t meet the qualifications for working in her lab. I will always be grateful for her support and mentorship in my academic development. 

She is a strong believer of an all-hands-on-deck philosophy that helped me develop responsibility and leadership skills.

Dr. Ehringer made it her goal to help me find grants to finance my work and gain two consecutive awards that help pay my living expenses today.

Student Nominator: Guillermo Reyes Martínez


Leslie Leinwand

Leslie Leinwand

Distinguished Professor, Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology


When I enter the classroom, I have a framework to place what I’ve learned because of Dr. Leslie Leinwand’s lab. 

I’ve been exposed to all levels of research: mouse work, cell culture, biophysical assays, and working on new scientific breakthroughs.

I find myself becoming more and more comfortable talking about my research to people, even if they happen to be more qualified than I am.   

As I prepare to graduate, Dr. Leinwand is helping me navigate my path forward.

Student Nominator: Molly Madden​


Colleen Reid

Colleen Reid

Assistant Professor, Geography​


I walk away from every single meeting with Dr. Colleen Reid feeling inspired and valued. Working with her has been one of the defining aspects of my undergraduate experience. 

I now feel confident writing all sections of a scientific publication and speaking in both formal and informal settings.   

From interviews with potential Ph.D. advisors at the top biostatistics programs in the country, I recognize how well I have been supported and prepared for this next stage of my career.

Student Nominator: Ellen Considine​


Rebecca Safran

Rebecca Safran

Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


I came to college with a fascination in the natural world, especially animal behavior, but not knowing where this interest might take me.  Working in Dr. Rebecca Safran's lab, I found my passion.

She led me to understand science as an iterative process, where ideas are constantly refined and discussed. In addition to teaching me basic lab and field skills, Dr. Safran also encouraged my development as a scientist more generally.

She is encouraging me to set ambitious goals, I and could not be more excited about my future.

Student Nominator: Sage Madden​​