UC engineering professor honored for undergraduate research mentoring

Murali Sundaram, Ph.D., associate professor of mechanical engineering, received the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award, presented by the University of Cincinnati’s Undergraduate Research Program.

Sundaram is one of only eight awardees selected from a list of 86 university-wide nominees. His award was announced at the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase on April 22 at the Tangeman University Center.

The honor reflects academic excellence, one of the platforms of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.

Sundaram is the director of the UC Micro and Nano Manufacturing Laboratory (UCMAN) where he involves undergraduate students in research. He was the past recipient of the Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation.

“I am fortunate to mentor these extraordinary students. Every time I set the bar higher, invariably they surprise me," he said. "Their potential seems to be unlimited.”

Likewise, students speak highly of Sundaram as well.

Natalie Reed (Mechanical Engineering ’22) explained the benefits of Sundaram’s mentorship to her, as an undergraduate student in research.

“I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of responsibility he gives us in the process and I think this is partly why the work has been so interesting,” Reed said. “We are not just running whatever tests we are told to run. We are deciding what tests are necessary to give us more information on the research question we are asking.

“He is committed to getting us involved in the research process and allows us to help make decisions on how we proceed on projects,” Reed said. “I have learned a lot from working in his lab and he has challenged me to become both a better student and researcher.”

Third-year Ph.D. student Anne Brant (Mechanical Engineering) spoke of Sundaram’s influence on her life.

“Dr. Sundaram invests in his students, placing emphasis on the importance of publishing, proposal writing, presenting in conferences, working in a research team, mentoring, and applying for opportunities," she said.

“I have since been an undergraduate assistant, master's student and now a Ph.D. student. Working in the UCMAN lab under Dr. Sundaram has given my life a whole new direction, and I am looking forward to continue on the path of researching new technologies in the future,” Brant said.