Before her death shocked our department earlier this year, Dr. Sarah DuBrow was providing exceptional mentoring to her students. At the Undergraduate Research Symposium in May 2022, Sarah’s husband, faculty member Dr. Ben Hutchinson, accepted a faculty mentoring award on her behalf from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Engagement (CURE).
Erika Moe, an undergraduate research assistant in Sarah’s lab, nominated Sarah for this award. Erika had been working closely with Sarah on a project inspired by her experiences with asynchronous classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. They decided to examine the impact of individual agency and choice-induced stress, a topic Sarah had done research on. Using an experimental design, they manipulated the number of options participants must choose from. To simulate structured learning, some participants were given two topics to learn about. The other participants were given eight topics to learn about, resulting in content overload. All participants then took a quiz 24 hours later, allowing Erika to determine how the learning structure impacted participants’ learning.
Sarah had an incredible impact on Erika and many other students, providing guidance and bolstering confidence as they ventured into research. In an article written about the faculty receiving mentor awards this year, the Division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success described the community response to Sarah’s death and the impact she had on the lives of many. Within the article, Erika describes the lasting impression Sarah’s mentorship had on her: “Professor DuBrow gave me a chance when no one else would, was the spark for many other amazing things and she gave me the confidence, resolve and drive to continue pushing forward, even when things seem insurmountable.”
Lindsay Rait, a doctoral student who had been working closely with Sarah and Erika, stepped up to help Erika finish her research project. Despite the challenges, Lindsay acted without hesitation, knowing how much this project had meant to Sarah and wanting to honor her. She provided the support and guidance Erika needed to see the project through. Describing her experience, Lindsay said, “Sarah really cared about mentorship, especially promoting women in STEM and students from underrepresented backgrounds. I share similar values and knew how meaningful it would be to carry this on.”