By Marlese Lessing
In honor of his outstanding excellence in mentoring and supporting undergraduates in the MSE Department, Assistant Professor Seok-Woo Lee has been awarded the UConn Mentorship Excellence Award from the Office of Undergraduate Research.
The award recognizes professors who help develop their mentees’ education and goals through continued guidance, push and support student research and growth, help their students develop a broader understanding of the field they are working in, connect students with resources for research, educational, and career-related endeavors, and overall aid students in becoming well-rounded, educated, and driven scholars within the University of Connecticut.
“This is a great honor for me. This award gives me a lot of meaning much more than any other awards related to research and funding,” Dr. Lee said. “I have worked with UConn undergraduate students for the last four years, and I was always amazed by their positive mind, enthusiasm, and creativeness. I will keep working hard to provide the best MSE education with our precious MSE undergraduate students.”
Dr. Lee has been a part of the MSE Department for five years, joining the department after completing his Kavli Nanoscience Institute postdoc fellow position at California Institute of Technology and earning his Ph.D from Stanford University. He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the UConn Research Excellence Award in 2016 and 2018, MSE Teaching Excellence of the Year in 2017, and the NASA Early Career Faculty Award (CAREER) in 2016. Not surprisingly, he has also received the “undergraduate teaching excellence” four times based on student’s teaching evaluation since 2015 when he started to teach at UConn. He was also selected as the MSE Teaching Excellence of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
His lab, which hosts four Ph.D. graduate students and two undergraduate students, focuses on the mechanical behavior of advanced structural materials at multiple length scales. They are using the state-of-art in-situ nanomechanical testing system to understand the role of crystalline defects in plastic deformation of metals, ceramics, polymers and intermetallic compounds. Undergraduate students in his laboratory usually use an ex-situ nanomechanical testing system and explore mechanical behavior of materials at the nanometer scale.
One of his undergraduate students, MSE senior Hetal Patel, nominated Assistant Professor Lee for the award because of his continued and outstanding support of her and her research throughout her time in MSE.
“Having Dr. Lee as my research advisors is the best thing that happened to me at UConn. He is the highlight of my day and a hallmark of my UConn career,” Hetal says. “Overall, Dr. Lee had changed the trajectory of my career through his kindness, his passion for science, and his dedication towards a student’s success. Coming into UConn, I knew nothing about research, and if I hadn’t met Dr. Lee, I would have never thought of applying to be a University Scholar, have decided to pursue a Ph.D. or would be going to a top graduate school.”
Dr. Lee was honored at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition reception on April 12, 2019. Hetal Patel gave a poster presentation for her work on the effects of tip radius on mechanical behavior of single crystal tungsten under spherical nanoindentation. Hetal Patel’s speech for Dr. Lee’s mentorship is available at the webpage of UConn Mentorship Excellence Award.
Frontiers in Undergraduate Research is an annual poster exhibition of student research, scholarship, and creative projects. Frontiers is a chance for students to share their work with the UConn community and with visitors to campus. This is one of the largest events for UConn undergraduate research, which several hundred undergraduate students from the entire campus participate in.