All of Jessica Larsen’s students who nominated her for the 2020 Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry described her as being the most supportive and enthusiastic professor they’ve ever had.
Larsen, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, who has a joint appointment in bioengineering, is an enthusiastic supporter of undergraduate research through the Creative Inquiry Program. She has mentored 31 undergraduate students in various majors, including chemical engineering, bioengineering, biochemistry, genetics and microbiology.
Her undergraduate students have given 17 research presentations — some at national and international conferences. Notably, the first research paper out of her lab was co-authored by two Creative Inquiry students.
Her research is centered on biomimetic and polymeric materials for drug delivery applications in neurodegenerative disease and other brain disorders. Through careful development of biologically relevant nanocarriers, Larsen hopes to bring next-generation nanomedicine with both disease-specificity and patient-personalization to the clinic.
“From their nomination letters, it was very clear that she has a genuine passion and talent for supporting and mentoring her undergraduate students,” according to the selection committee members.
“Dr. Larsen deserves the Phil and Mary Bradley Award more than any other professor I know because of her overall amazing drive to help her students accomplish their goals,” one student wrote.
“Not only does she push her students to do their very best, she also pushes herself,” another stated.
“She loves her undergraduates, so much so that many of us have gone to her for a plethora of problems, including life issues. She isn’t just there for us in the lab. She is writing recommendation letters and networking all over the country for many of us to get us into a graduate school,” wrote another.
“I just wanted to say that I believe the best in all of my students!” Larsen said. “We are all equally capable of making progress and making mistakes. It is our job to work together as a team where members all have equal value. Together, we have created a mutual, safe space for our team.”
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