Professor Frank Kuserk Receives National Biology Mentor Award

For more than 30 years, Frank Kuserk, professor of biological sciences and director of the environmental studies program, has inspired Moravian College students to buckle down, reach higher, do more.

Students and colleagues have recognized the difference he's made all along, and now Dr. Kuserk's impact has been recognized nationally. Last month the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) honored him with its first Biology Mentor Award, given in recognition of outstanding mentorship of undergraduate research students and for serving as a role model for other faculty mentors.

"What I value most is the word 'mentor,' the core reason for the award," said Kuserk. "Being a mentor is not just about advising the best students, who are bound to be successful with or without help, but to give honest advice and, at times, criticism to all students so that they have a chance to reach their potential."

Kuserk also is enthusiastic about the value of teaching through collaborative research with students: "Working one-on-one with students in the field and in the research lab allows me to get to know them very well. Working with them on a research project that results in their presentation at a conference or publishing a paper with me lets them achieve something tangible and boosts their confidence, so that they can say, 'yes, I can!'"

"Being a mentor is not just about advising the best students, but about giving honest advice to all students so they have a chance to reach their potential."

Professor Frank Kuserk often works with students on research projects that also benefit local communities and organizations, such as the Wildlands Conservancy and Lehigh Gap Nature Center. Above: Prof. Kuserk explains a stream biomonitoring technique to Chiu Cheng '09, an environmental science major. Now a graduate student at Florida State University, Cheng studies oceanography. Photos: J Kish IV

With Dr. Kuserk, students have published numerous articles in scientific journals, such as The Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. And they consistently present their work at scientific meetings, such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Ecological Society of America, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Science. Several of his students have received awards, including the American Institute of Biological Sciences National Undergraduate Research Award.

"What makes Dr. Kuserk such an exceptional teacher and mentor is the fact that his lessons aren't bound by classroom walls," said Matt Share '11, a biology major who worked with Kuserk on a SOAR project this summer, monitoring biological conditions in the Little Lehigh. "Sure, he's taught me a lot about ecology, animal behavior, and Darwin—but he also has aided me in my quest for graduate school admission and has provided a few life lessons along the way, too. I'm glad that I got to work so closely with him."

The mission of the Council on Undergraduate Research is to support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship. CUR made three awards nationally, one at each faculty rank (assistant professor, associate professor, and professor). Kuserk was recognized at the rank of professor.