Mary Ann Allison, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations in the School of Communication, has been named Hofstra University’s first Mentor of the Year, a new award to honor outstanding faculty supervision of advanced undergraduate research. Based in part on letters of nomination by students and colleagues, the prize is given to a full-time faculty member who has guided students, both professionally and academically, toward developing original ideas for research.
Undergraduate research refers to advanced study in any discipline, be it in the laboratory, clinic, library, field or on stage, and marks the transition of the student into graduate studies and professional life as well as continued independent research. Dr. Allison teaches courses in media studies, including media literacy, research and mass media in contemporary society. She uses media theory, sociology, and complex-systems theory to study the ways in which individuals, communities and institutions are changing as a result of human immersion in electronic media.
“I like being a mentor to students in any situation but I especially love working with students over several years on independent study projects or honors theses where the student chooses a media studies topic that he or she wants to study in depth,” says Dr. Allison. “In these cases, the student not only uses scholarly sources but also actually contributes to the field by designing and conducting original research. It is a wonderful feeling to see young people gain confidence as they learn that they can develop and deliver research which adds to our understanding of the world. I’m thrilled to win this award.”
“Dr. Allison has a way of making seeds of inspiration blossom into research papers, multimedia presentations, and in my circumstance, visual journalism,” says one student researcher who nominated her. “She understands her students in a way that makes them unafraid to succeed, no matter how much work is involved or how obscure the field. She is one of those mentors who will continue to change and inspire her students, long after grades are received.”
This award reaffirms Hofstra’s recognition of advanced undergraduate research and dedicated faculty supervision as part of its commitment to teaching excellence, notes Neil H. Donahue, Undergraduate Research Coordinator and Senior Associate Dean of Honors College. Dr. Allison will receive a $500 prize and be recognized at the May Honors convocation.