N.C. A&T Biology Professor Recognized for Undergraduate Research Mentorship

By Jordan Howse / 06/11/2021 College of Science and Technology, Biology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (June 11, 2021) – Misty Thomas, Ph.D., started mentoring one undergraduate researcher five years ago. Now, more than 20 researchers have passed through her lab, and she has been awarded the Mentor Award in biology by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Thomas, an assistant professor in the College of Science and Technology, said one of her favorite parts of her job is mentoring undergraduate researchers.

“I love to teach others to love research and science and I’m super passionate about everything I do,” Thomas said. “It hasn’t ever been my dream to win a Nobel Prize or anything. My dream has always been to have a corner basement lab and teach students about research.”

Thomas’ course-based undergraduate research experiences and mentoring have yielded peer-reviewed scientific articles coauthored by undergraduates, numerous conference presentations, and students who have gone on to graduate and professional schools. Her mentoring approach involves individual development plans that prioritize the goals, needs and expectations of her diverse mentees.

“I want to give my students as many opportunities to do research as I can,” she said. “I want them to be the expert at something and develop the skills and techniques for that thing. They’re able to take ownership of that part of the research and ensure that they are getting what they want and need from the undergraduate research experience.”

Thomas earned her undergraduate degree from the Collège Universitaire de St. Boniface in Manitoba, Canada, and her Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Manitoba. She conducted her postdoctoral work at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

“Anyone I take into my lab, I absolutely trust them,” she said. “I tell them that it’s OK to make mistakes and that allows them to trust in themselves.

“It’s great to be recognized for one of my favorite parts of my job but I don’t this for my own success, I do this for theirs.”

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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