Lou Charkoudian Wins New Award From the Council on Undergraduate Research
The associate professor of chemistry is the inaugural recipient of the Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award, honoring both her success in chemical sciences and her mentorship of undergraduate researchers.
Lou Charkoudian has been selected as the first recipient for the Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award. This award, honoring CUR past president and current RCSA Senior Program Director Silvia Ronco, honors a tenure-track faculty member within ten years of their first faculty appointment who demonstrates success in chemical sciences and whose mentoring practices have supported undergraduate research.
"This award holds a special place in my heart because it aligns so closely with my priorities,” said the associate professor of chemistry. “I work hard to create an inclusive undergraduate training environment in which we can let our authentic selves shine, chase down big dreams, lean on one another for support, and celebrate wins big and small. It honestly feels like a dream come true to receive recognition for work that fuels me with so much joy and purpose.”
Charkoudian, who is herself a 2003 Haverford graduate, came to work at her alma mater because she saw the structures and support needed to build a high-level, undergraduate-driven research program. Her lab values innovation and inclusion, which has led to Charkoudian publishing 29 peer-reviewed papers with over 100 student co-authors over the past nine years.
Not only does she innovate in chemical science, but also in chemical education research. As a co-founder of FLAMEnet, a nationwide network of STEM instructors, education researchers, and psychologists who study how interpersonal frameworks can be leveraged to support diversity and inclusion in STEM undergraduate education, she has received NSF funding for work on persevering through challenges and failures in classrooms and labs.
"Lou leans into discovery, co-creating, failure, leadership, and taking smart risks,” said Haverford President Wendy Raymond. “Lou came full circle at Haverford, where she consistently pays it forward as an extraordinary mentor, scientist, and teacher.”
Charkoudian’s lab studies how nature creates structurally complex molecules, and uses bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics to understand and discover new ways to make molecules. She notes that the team is currently at an exciting crossroads, “merging our innovations in system exploration and tool development to explore whether proteins from different pathways can be mixed-and-matched to unlock environmentally sustainable access to ‘unnatural natural products,’ or molecules that nature does not encode directly but can be made by strategically harnessing nature’s machinery.”
In recognition of her Silvia Ronco Innovative Mentor Award, she will be honored at CUR’s upcoming June conference, ConnectUR.
“Dr. Lou Charkoudian’s innovative mentoring work and drive to the success of undergraduate research in the chemical sciences has inspired undergraduate researchers and faculty members alike,” said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer. “Her dedication to encouraging success to her students is awe inspiring. I am excited for Dr. Charkoudian to represent the first awardee of such a distinguished and new honor.”
“Haverford is full of exceptional mentors and I learn so much from the wisdom and creativity of community members in the Department of Chemistry as well as other departments,” said Charkoudian. “While I am honored to be the recipient of this award, I extend credit and gratitude to our community, who every day challenges me to align my actions with values of hard work and mutual care.”