The Council on Undergraduate Research has named Chemistry Professor Mitch Malachowski, PhD, a recipient of the 2014 CUR Fellow Award. The award is presented annually to professors who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to advancing undergraduate research at their institutions. A huge advocate for research, Malachowski has mentored more than 100 students and boasts 21 publications with 40 student co-authors.
Biochemistry Major David Peters ’14 said of his laboratory experience with Malachowski, “He perfectly balances the amount he engages and instructs with the degree to which he is hands-off, and lets us as researchers be autonomous.” Chemistry major Taryn Parsons ’14 echoed that praise. “He makes you interested in your research even if you have hit failed attempts along the way. He guides you, but is your biggest supporter for venturing out on your own.”
Professor Malachowski, how long have you been involved with undergraduate research and what are your students researching right now?
I have been involved with undergraduate research since I arrived at USD in 1984. Over the years we have made lots of new organic molecules that can coordinate to metal ions. These have served either as models for naturally occurring molecules or as precursors to large arrays of molecules. I love being in my lab with my students as they create new molecules.
"I make a commitment to my students at the beginning of each semester to devote myself to the course and to them. I can’t do this every waking hour, but I commit myself to helping them as much as they need."
Mitch Malachowski, PhD
How can undergraduate research enhance a student's college experience?
I don’t think of undergraduate research as an “enhancement” of a student’s experience, but rather as being as essential to their development as their coursework. It is not an add-on, rather it is the best way to make them practicing chemists or historians or philosophers rather than having them just reading and studying their subjects.
What is unique about undergraduate research at USD?
We have high research expectations for our students. We don’t think of it as simply dabbling in the discipline, but rather we expect our students will contribute to their disciplines, publish journal articles and give talks at conferences. They will be practitioners. From working in our labs with our students, we develop very strong relationships with them that are frequently sustained over decades and that enrich all of our lives.
- Anne Malinoski '11