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STAR Scholars
Outstanding Mentor of the Year

STAR Faculty Mentors routinely go above and beyond in their duties as mentors. To recognize some of our best faculty mentors, the Office of Undergraduate Research established the STAR Scholars Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award in 2011. STAR Scholars are able to nominate their faculty mentors by submitting an official nomination form and writing a letter explaining why they believed their Mentor deserved the award. These words of gratitude are then incorporated into a personalized letter, signed by Provost Greenberg, for each of the nominated mentors, thanking them for their service.

Many STAR Scholars nominate their faculty mentors for the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award; throughout these nominations, the Mentors are uniformly recognized for the following:

  • They are passionate experts in their field who freely share their expertise with students.
  • They care deeply about their students and treat them with respect.
  • They create comfortable but challenging work environments that facilitate open discussion.
  • They generously foster students’ intellectual and professional development.
  • They actively engage students in learning and celebrate their success.
  • They are kind and patient.
  • They go above and beyond in supporting their students.

Thank you, STAR Faculty Mentors, for all you contribute to the STAR Scholars’ experiences each summer!


The 2018 Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year Award was presented to two faculty: Dr. Hande Benson (LeBow College of Business, Decision Science and MIS ) and Professor Michael Glaser (Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Product Design). Both Dr. Benson and Prof. Glaser received a plaque engraved with their names, as well as a $1,000 grant to support their further work with undergraduate researchers.

Hande Benson is a Professor in the Department of Decision Sciences and MIS at Drexel’s University’s LeBow College of Business.  She serves as director of the College’s Business and Engineering program and teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs in Business Analytics and Operations and Supply Chain Management.  Dr. Benson received her Ph.D. in Operations Research and Financial Engineering from Princeton University and continued as a postdoctoral fellow for the Princeton Environmental Institute.  She joined Drexel after faculty positions at Rutgers University and the United States Naval Academy.  Throughout her career, she has consulted for numerous financial firms, the production industry, and local governments, and she is a core faculty member for LeBow’s Corporate and Executive Education programs.

Dr. Benson was nominated by STAR Scholars Ardita Koka and Nathan Runk.   Nathan found that  “Her mentorship has transcended the 10-week STAR Scholars Program, because she is genuinely interested in our future and takes every opportunity she can to provide us with counsel that is always in our best interest.”  Ardita Koka adds “What makes Professor Benson an outstanding mentor is not just the fact that she was an amazing, supportive adviser, but that we both felt like we could talk to her about anything. Her involvement with our research has facilitated our academic and professional development, and she has done an exceptional job in confirming the reason why we chose Business and Engineering as our major.”


Mike Glaser is the Program Director of Product Design at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. Mike brings over 30 years of combined experience in product development and design education. His passion is to explore and quantify a designer's way of being. He's driven by his love for all things design and has a passion to educate the next generation of thinker-makers. Mike holds an MFA from The Ohio State University and a bachelor's in Industrial Design from University of Cincinnati. Mike has teaching experience at The Ohio State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.  In addition to Mike’s pedagogical pursuits, he has a long career of developing products and design strategies for Hewlett-Packard, Ciba Corning, Data General, Telxon, Texas Instruments, and Whal Clippers, among others. Mike was previously Director of the Design at Ignition in Plano, TX, and has spearheaded the launch of two independent design firms.

Professor Glaser was nominated by STAR Scholars BreAnna Bechtold, Lauren Beich, Charlotte Guedalia, Grace Landy and Chloe Tolderlund.  Under Professor Glaser’s mentorship, the students gained technical knowledge as well as life skills.   Chloe Tolderlund shared that “Mike’s goal is for students to have the critical thinking skills to go into any vocation and thrive by bringing new insights to the field.”  Lauren Beich added,Rather than helping us tackle the problems we chose, Mike gave us examples, metaphors and wisdoms to break down larger problems into something more manageable,” and BreAnna Bechtold found that “By placing project conception and implementation in our hands, Mike has forgone his role of teacher and leader, and has become a mentor in earnest. He does not direct or assign, but rather oversees and advises the work.” 


The 2017 Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year Award was presented to two faculty: Dr. Edward (Ted) Daeschler (Academy of Natural Sciences, BEES) and Dr. Kapil Dandekar (Electrical & Computer Engineering). Both Dr. Daeschler and Dr. Dandekar received a plaque engraved with their names, as well as a $1,000 grant to support their further work with undergraduate researchers.

 Professor Ted Daeschler
Professor Edward (Ted) Daeschler is an associate professor in the department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science, as well as Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology and Vice President for Systematic Biology and the Library at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Dr. Daeschler’s responsibilities at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University focus on research, collections building, and on public programs within the museum. He served as a scientific advisor for the renovation of the Academy’s Dinosaur Hall, and a variety of other paleontological exhibits. Dr. Daeschler’s work is a reflection of the rich history of vertebrate paleontology at the Academy of Natural Sciences, both in research and in public education.

Dr. Daeschler was nominated by 2017 STAR Scholars Kevin Sievers and AR Ciccariello. In writing about Dr. Daeschler, AR wrote: “I was an 18 year old with a handful of classes in the field under my belt, driven by 90% passion, and 10% technical knowledge, who had just discovered a new species, because for some strange reason, Dr. Daeschler saw some potential in me, set a tray of fossils from a chunk of Devonian rock in the Canadian Arctic in front of me and told me to figure out what was there. He opened the doors and set me on a path to do something most 18 year olds don’t dare dream of….I didn’t expect to discover a new species, I aspired to find the most complete specimen of something. But here I was, literally beyond a dream come true, I was a real paleontologist, because Dr. Daeschler facilitated my growth as a scientist and person.” Kevin wrote: ”At (a recent symposium) one of the keynote speakers made a point of acknowledging academic lineages, how we can trace mentorship like family back through the years to the forefathers of scientific inquiry. I will be forever be grateful that I am part of (Dr. Daeschler’s) lineage, and for the opportunities I have been given.”

 Professor Kapil Dandekar
Professor Kapil Dandekar is a professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering, as well as director of the Drexel Wireless Systems Laboratory. His current research interests and publications involve wireless, ultrasonic, and optical communications, reconfigurable antennas, and smart textiles. Dr. Dandekar holds several patents in the area of wireless systems, and intellectual property from DWSL has been licensed for use in commercial products. In 2007, Dandekar received the ECE Outstanding Research Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and in 2015, he received the Outstanding Research Award from the College of Engineering at Drexel University.

Dr. Dandekar was nominated this year by five 2017 STAR Scholars: Jui Hanamshet, Joshua Cohen, Brent Lee, Manniska Kshettry and Saloni Purswani, who join many former STAR Scholars from previous years who have nominated him for this award. Of Dr. Dandekar’s mentorship, the students said:

  • "Dr. Dandekar goes out of his way to help us students and makes sure we are comfortable with our projects, that we’re having fun doing it and suggests ways we can improve it. He…answers our questions, gives us alternatives, provides us more information than we asked for and, best of all, treats us like accountable adults instead of…freshmen doing menial projects."
  • “The most important thing that Dr. Dandekar does well with is communication. He is always willing to meet, answer your emails, and facilitate outreach to companies if needed.”
  • “The core values that he advocates and exemplifies can be seen in every aspect of the Drexel Wireless Systems Laboratory. The positivity, trust, and patience of Dr. Dandekar is unrivaled by any other faculty mentor.”
  • “He helps us brainstorm and come up with solutions if we face a diffculty in the research process. He is always open to new ideas and values the student’s ideas and opinions. He also makes sure that the students have the proper equipments and devices to help them go ahead with their research.”
  • “He commends our work to encourage us to do better, yet he simultaneously makes sure to praise work that has been developed through substantial effort—thus inpsiring us to work extremely hard for his appreciation. Lastly, Dr. Dandekar helps us expand our thinking by suggesting additional factors we should consider. He demonstrates how important it is to think through different perspectives and to encompass the most we can through our creations here at the Wireless Systems Lab.”


The 2016 Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Professor Diana Nicholas (Architecture & Interiors) at the August STAR Summer Showcase. Professor Nicholas received a plaque engraved with her name, as well as a $1,000 grant to support her further work with undergraduate researchers.

Professor Diana Nicholas

Professor Diana Nicholas is an assistant professor of Architecture & Interiors at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. Her research focuses on speculative design and tools for the design of healthy urban spaces in underserved communities. She founded the informed design research laboratory URBN STEAMlab with Professor Shivanthi Anandan, a trans-disciplinary laboratory exploring urban sustainability through science and informed design. As a member of Drexel’s AIA Health and Research Consortium, one of only fourteen consortiums nationwide, Dee works to build opportunities for trans-disciplinary health and design based research. Her work has been published and exhibited in a variety of academic and professional journals including ARCH IN-Form, Context, ARCC and ACSA.

In her nomination, STAR Scholar Kiera Townsend, an architecture major, wrote: "I took a class with her and she always made a point to meet with me afterward to discuss the summer project further and field any of my questions about what to expect. This made me feel respected and immediately welcomed into Dee's research. Then, (she) told me that she would like for my project to be my own - I would be designing and 3D printing my own iterations of prototypes to bring algal hydroponic food growth to the home interior, based in the research and mission of the URBN STEAMLab. I realized I would not be assisting with research, but standing on the shoulders of giants to design using my own voice. I could not wait for my STAR Summer to begin."

Commenting on her ability to create a comfortable but challenging work environment, Kiera wrote: "The last couple weeks have been awesome because I quite frequently step into Dee's office a few feet away and ask her for feedback, which she is always willing to provide. I have felt more motivated to iterate faster as Dee encourages physical form, asserting that I should have a prototype in my hand in order to rightfully discuss it. Each time I feel ‘stuck’, Dee has a book or article for me to read and find inspiration in."

In recognition of her efforts on behalf of her students and undergraduate research we are pleased to award the Outstanding STAR Faculty Mentor Award for 2015-2016 to Professor Diana Nicholas.


The 2015 Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Professor Genevieve Dion (Fashion Design, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design) at the August STAR Summer Showcase. Professor Dion received a plaque engraved with her name, as well as a $1,000 grant to support her further work with undergraduate researchers.

Professor Genevieve Dion

Professor Genevieve Dion, assistant professor of Fashion Design at Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, has an extensive background in bespoke clothing and industrial design. Her research focuses on the investigation of flexible production methods and mass customization of smart garments, and the development of seamlessly integrated knitted electronic components into “Garment Devices”. In September 2012, following the signing of a groundbreaking agreement with Shima Seiki USA, Professor Dion launched a state-of-the-art laboratory, The Shima Seiki Haute Tech Lab, to conduct multidisciplinary research on smart textiles and wearable technology. In 2014, she was named Fast Company’s Top 100 Most Creative People in Business.

In their nomination, STAR Scholars Tauheed Baukman, a chemical engineering major and Keith Taylor, a mechanical engineering major, wrote: “While the EXciTE Center is Drexel’s home of collaboration, the Shima [Seiki Haute Tech] Lab’s success of gathering great minds from various disciplines is directly attributed to Genevieve Dion. In our lab you will find students from Fashion Design to Chemical Engineering to Custom-Design majors… [Professor] Dion inspires everyone in our lab to share her vision of integrating technology and textiles at a deeper level.  [Professor] Dion pushes us all to apply to opportunities to present our research and network with others in our field, even this early into our research careers… [We] work hand in hand with other engineers, industrial designers, and fashion designers.”

Commenting on Professor Dion’s ability to foster their intellectual and professional development, Tauheed wrote: “Professor Dion fosters both independent and group work in the lab… She is working to create a research co-op position in the lab (working) on a math model in collaboration with the Computer Science Department… It is because of Professor Dion that I want to pursue a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Engineering… The environment she sets requires you to be self-motivated with your work…I aspire to live my passion like Genevieve, to love the work that you’re doing, succeed, and enjoy all that your hard work returns.”

In recognition of her efforts on behalf of her students and undergraduate research we are pleased to award the Outstanding STAR Faculty Mentor Award for 2014-2015 to Professor Genevieve Dion.


The 2014 Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Murugan Anandarajan (Management, LeBow College of Business) at the August STAR Summer Showcase. Dr. Anandarajan received a plaque engraved with his name, as well as a $1,000 grant to support his further work with undergraduate researchers, which he plans on using to purchase new books and other research materials.

Dr. Murugan Anandarajan

In nominating Dr. Anandarajan for this award, STAR Scholar Irina-Marcela Nedelcu wrote:

From the very beginning, (Professor Anandarajan) appeared to be very passionate about the subject and interested in sharing his passion … The enthusiasm with which he explained the process that we have to follow made me eager to give my best this summer. For me, Dr. Anandarajan is not just the person I work with; he is my professor, mentor and advisor at the same time…He has always been patient in explaining to me the steps that I have to take in my work … he would always find time in his schedule to work with me … Every time he talked about the project, I would feel challenged to work harder to achieve the best results … he makes me want to aspire higher … Now, I feel more convinced about continuing my education after graduating.

Dr. Anandarajan’s willingness to go above and beyond as an instructor and mentor has been an inspiration to many students over the years. He began teaching a four-credit course each Spring term to all Business STAR students and interested STAR Humanities students to introduce them to the research methods they need to succeed in the STAR program. Additionally, because Dr. Anandarajan has tirelessly championed research as a part of a well-rounded curriculum, the LeBow College has created the LeBow Business Fellowship Program, which gives students more opportunities to explore research-based work at Drexel.

It is for Dr. Anandarajan’s commitment to educating and mentoring students, both in the STAR program and in the classroom, that we honor him as our 2014 Outstanding Mentor of the Year.


In Summer 2013, the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Glen Muschio (Digital Media, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design). Dr. Muschio received a plaque engraved with his name, as well as a $1,000 grant to support his further work with undergraduate researchers. 

Dr. Glen Muschio

Dr. Glen Muschio has shown an outstanding commitment to mentoring, developing, and supporting STAR Scholars and other undergraduate researchers. In nominating Dr. Muschio for the award, mentee Zachary Stockmal wrote:

Glen challenges us to care about the project as much as he does… He went out of his way to make sure I had the necessary research materials; he prepared me for the work ahead, on his own behalf. And whenever the time came that travel was necessary to do more research, he took care of it without a moment’s hesitation. …It was his sheer joy in the work that we were doing that inspired me to care so much about my STAR project. Anyone can spend a summer doing research, but with Glen Muschio, it became more than just research – it became an adventure. This research project turned into a trip to the past that was intriguing and invigorating… .I might pursue a Master’s degree so that I could be a man like him.

Dr. Muschio has inspired students in this same way for years. He was the first and only non-engineering mentor in the first year of the STAR Scholars Program (AY 2002-2003), and he has served as a mentor nearly every year since then. Over the past 11 years, Dr. Muschio has mentored more than 17 STAR scholars, including Amol Sathe (STAR Alumnus ‘03), who earned a BS/MS in Digital Media, works for Disney Animation, and was recognized this year as lighting supervisor for Paperman, winner of the 2013 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Dr. Muschio also mentored Jim Malazita (STAR Alumnus ’05), which is currently a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Culture & Communication and who acted as a STAR Mentor this summer to Colton Terrace. Recently, Dr. Muschio, Jim Malazita, and Mark Petrovich (another Digital Media graduate student and STAR Alumnus), along with the OUR Staff, wrote an article for the Council of Undergraduate Research on the STAR Scholars Program and the emerging discipline of Digital Cultural Heritage. 

Dr. Muschio understands the importance of immersing undergraduate students in a discipline, understands undergraduate research as a transformative experience for students, and gets the fact that undergraduate research benefits our students, their mentors and the University as a whole. And for that, we honor him as Outstanding STAR Mentor for 2012-2013.


In Summer 2012, the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley (Chemistry, College of Arts & Sciences). Dr. Bradley received a plaque engraved with his name, as well as a $1,000 grant to support his further work with undergraduate researchers. He plans to use the grant for travel, chemicals and other applications that would enable his group to continue their research efficiently.

Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley, Chemistry - College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the College of Arts and Science at Drexel University. He has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and has published articles and obtained patents in the areas of synthetic and mechanistic chemistry, gene therapy, nanotechnology and scientific knowledge management. Dr. Bradley leads the UsefulChem project, a synthetic organic chemistry initiative started in the summer of 2005 to make the scientific process as transparent as possible by publishing all research work in real time to a collection of public blogs, wikis and other web pages. Jean-Claude coined the term Open Notebook Science (ONS) to distinguish this approach from other more restricted forms of Open Science. In 2008, he created the Open Notebook Science Solubility Challenge to crowd source the measurement of non-aqueous solubility. Sponsored by Submeta, Sigma-Aldrich, Nature and the Royal Society of Chemistry, the ONS Challenge has resulted in the publication of a book combining the results of 12 student award winners from the U.S. and the U.K. Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley teaches undergraduate organic chemistry courses with most content and is freely available on public blogs, wikis, games, Second Life and audio and video podcasts. 

In Summer 2012, Dr. Bradley was awarded the second "Outstanding Mentor of the Year" Award for his work with STAR Scholar Matthew McBride. He has mentored numerous STAR Scholars in the past few years and expresses that “it has always been a beneficial experience for both [him] and the students.” He was recognized on behalf of his commitment to the students' academic growth throughout their STAR experiences. Matthew McBride recognized “Dr. Bradley’s willingness to work beside [him] … and to verbally lead [him] step by step through an experience. Dr. Bradley gave [him] his time and attention, but allowed [Matthew] to perform the experiment.” After his STAR experience, Matthew McBride believes he has “gained new skills that [he] will be able to use for the rest of [his] life.” Today, they continue to work on research in Dr. Bradley’s lab. We recognize Dr. Bradley’s commitment to the education of Matthew McBride and other undergraduate students and are proud to have named him an official Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year, 2012.


In Summer 2011, the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Sriram Balasubramanian (School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems). Dr. Balasubramanian received a plaque engraved with his name, as well as a $1,000 grant to support his further work with undergraduate researchers.

Dr. Sriram Balasubramanian, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems

Dr. Sriram Balasubramanian joined the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems at Drexel University as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2010. He also serves as an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Dr. Balasubramanian is the Director of the Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory at Drexel University, and his research efforts include studying the structural characteristics of the spine and thoracic cage for pediatric deformities, pediatric head and neck injury research, and developing age-equivalent animal models for pediatric long bones. Dr. Balasubramanian mentors several undergraduate and graduate biomedical engineering students in his lab. He has mentored over ten STAR Scholars over the past five years; these students have participated in various collaborative projects with researchers from Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health Systems; Drexel University College of Medicine; CHOP; and University of Pennsylvanian - School of Veterinary Medicine.

In Summer 2011, Dr. Balasubramanian was awarded the first ever "Outstanding Mentor of the Year" Award for his work with four STAR Scholars: Rohan Agarwal, Muzammil Hasan, Nathan Lear, and Sona Rathod. He was recognized on behalf of his commitment to the students' academic growth throughout their STAR experiences. The students recognized his "great knowledge, kindness, and connection to the students in the lab" and noted that they are "proud to call him ... professor, mentor and teacher." We recognize Dr. Balasubramanian's commitment to the education of these and other undergraduate students and are proud to have named him the first official Outstanding STAR Mentor of the Year, 2011.