Bradley Biology Professor Receives National Mentor Award

Dr. Anant Deshwal, Assistant Professor in the Biology Department, was awarded the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Biology Mentor Award for an early career scientist. The CUR Biology Division Mentor Awards honor biology mentors for their sustained efforts in supervising undergraduate research students.

“Our Biology Department greatly values working with students in research and scholarship, which aligns with our core value of providing students with experiential learning opportunities,” explained Melinda Faulkner, Biology’s department chair and associate professor. “This award highlights Dr. Deshwal's commitment to working with students and the strength of the Biology Department's undergraduate research programs.”

Tyler McMahon MS ’24, worked on his thesis project under the mentorship of Deshwal, traveling to Nachusa Grasslands in Northern Illinois to study the effects of different types of prairie management on moth diversity. He praised Deshwal for his commitment to his students. “He lives for his students in every aspect of his life, whether it be class advice, research questions, or someone to rant to. As a future researcher and educator, I hope I can pull upon my experience with Dr. Deshwal to help guide me through my career.”

According to professor of biology, Kelly McConnaughay, who nominated Deshwal for the mentor award, “Anant is among the most enthusiastic, engaging, and positive people I have met in my 30+ years of teaching, learning, and mentoring undergraduate research. He genuinely loves science, particularly wildlife ecology and conservation, and he genuinely loves sharing his passion with others. He has the gift of conversing easily with people of all types: scientists, students, and non-scientists; researchers in and outside of his field; conservationists and land managers; people he encounters enjoying a hike in the woods. I believe this openness to engaging with others and sharing his enthusiasm for ecology and conservation provides students with both a sense of belonging.”

Deshwal’s ability to engage students and let them make their own decisions is what students appreciate most. “To help my students attain an appreciation of ecology and evolution, I help them explore their interests, connect with the natural world, develop hypothesis, collect data, and test those hypotheses. I allow them to develop their own research questions and projects within the broad framework of my expertise,” Deshwal explained. “It gives students a sense of ownership of the project. They are highly invested in seeing the project succeed.”

Emily Potts