Alzheimer’s disease research scientist, Dr. Ben Bahr has received the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Biology Division’s Mentor Award for his work in serving as a role model for students and other mentors of undergraduate research nationwide. He is UNC Pembroke’s William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry.
The 2012 Outstanding Mentor Awards were presented at CUR’s annual conference held at The College of New Jersey in late June. Dr. Bahr was not able to attend because of ongoing research on brain aging currently being conducted by undergraduate students in his lab.
“I’ve worked with undergraduates in my lab at three universities, and I’ve found using undergraduates is a good way to push projects forward and study the layers of data produced in the research process,” Dr. Bahr said.
An expert on age-related neuro-degenerative disorders, Dr. Bahr has presented his research in 15 different countries and is the author of more than100 articles in scientific journals, many of which include undergraduate co-authors from three universities where he has worked.
At UNCP, Dr. Bahr is a member of both biology and chemistry departments, and his lab is located in the Biotechnology Center of the Regional Center. He and his students conduct research on proteins (Beta amyloids) that are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Bahr has mentored more than 30 students since joining the faculty at UNCP in 2009. Of the 13 student-researchers from Dr. Bahr’s lab who have graduated, eight have been accepted to or are attending graduate, medical or professional school; two have recently applied to graduate school; and two are working at biotech companies in North Carolina.
Two of Dr. Bahr’s students were awarded fellowships from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Another student was awarded a N.C. Space grant this summer to do research in his lab.
Recently Dr. Bahr’s lab produced a paper published by the scientific journal PLoS ONE that represented five years of research. It was co-authored by two UNCP undergraduates and several post-doctoral students from other universities who worked in the Pembroke lab.
“It’s a learning experience, and undergrads need lab experience to build their resumes for admission to graduate school,” Dr. Bahr continued. “About half the undergraduates who work in my lab catch the research bug and take off.”
The Mentor Award is highly competitive. CUR represents over 900 colleges and universities across the U.S. Dr. Bahr’s undergraduate biology students have proven themselves worthy of recognition through their research and publications, according the CUR announcement.
Founded in 1978, the CUR is an advocate and resource for undergraduate research.