The 2019 Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for Early Career Faculty goes to Dr. Ramji Bhandari.

Dr. Ramji Bhandari’s research is focused on understanding the relationships between environmental chemicals and the inheritance of adverse health conditions.  He joined the faculty at UNCG as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology in 2016 and has already mentored 15 of our undergraduates.  Seven of these students have already graduated, one of which is first author on two recently submitted manuscripts, and two others are co-authors on two additional manuscripts.  His students have been actively presenting the results of their inquiry at venues including the NC Academy of Sciences, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Developmental Biology.  Two of his students are currently pursuing advanced degrees at other institutions.  Dr. Bhandari is a committed educator and researcher who seeks to mentor students in both the classroom and laboratory.

In his teaching and research philosophy he stated, “My lab is a family” and goes on to explain that he seeks to develop student confidence, provide research opportunities to learn process, and help cultivate critical thinkers.  One student wrote, “Dr. Bhandari gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as a scientist,” and the “… experience … made me an attractive candidate for PhD programs…”  Another student wrote, “Dr. Bhandari displays tremendous respect toward his students,” and “His confidence in my abilities eliminated self-doubt during the challenges of my project.”

Dr. Bhandari’s commitment to student learning permeates every aspect of his role at UNCG.  He has taken on the challenge of transforming course-work to include experiences that promote an understanding of process and structure that lead to problem solving.  Students have been energized in these classes, stating that “he encouraged us to … ask relevant research questions.” Such integration of research and research-skills-development into the curriculum allows him to have an impact on more students than he can possibly mentor in his laboratory.

The Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office at UNCG established this award to recognize faculty members who engage students in projects that contribute to the expansion of knowledge and understanding in their discipline, while demonstrating excellence and innovation in doing so.  Dr. Ramji Bhandari has managed to have an incredible impact upon arriving at UNCG, and we are honored to recognize him with the 2019 Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.