Helena Morrison, PhD, Receives Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award

Jan. 29, 2019

On January 26, University of Arizona College of Nursing Assistant Professor Helena Morrison, PhD, RN, received the 2018 Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP) Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. Each year, nominations for the UBRP Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award are submitted by students in UBRP who feel that their mentors have been exceptionally dedicated to their growth, willing to accommodate their needs, promoted their scientific and educational development, and demonstrated respect, loyalty and friendship. Dr. Morrison was nominated by two students who said her mentorship made a significant impact on their lives and studies.

“I have been involved in research since my sophomore year of high school,” said College of Science student Beca Gardner. “I entered UBRP with a good amount of experience, but I never truly embraced the passion for research until I entered Dr. Helena Morrison’s lab. She is more than just my research mentor; she is my role model in every sense of the word.”

“I am fortunate to be part of this program with the opportunity to mentor students who will be the future innovators in biomedical sciences." ~ Helena Morrison, PhD, RN

“Dr. Morrison is fully supportive of all my intellectual pursuits,” said College of Science student Ayumi Pottenger. “She has enabled me to learn new, important and marketable skills. She doesn’t shy away from letting the undergrads perform important experiments and encourages us to learn as many new techniques as possible.”

Dr. Morrison’s research focuses on improving stroke patient outcomes by informing novel sex-specific therapeutics. She investigates microglia cells—the brain phagocyte—under physiologic and pathologic conditions. Her primary research inquiry focuses on discovering how sex, estrus cycle and ovarian function influences microglial morphology in the healthy brain and their phagocytic phenotypes after ischemic stroke.

“UBRP encompasses a wonderful cadre of students and staff that provides much needed support for undergraduate research experiences,” said Dr. Morrison. “I am fortunate to be a part of this program with the opportunity to mentor students who will be the future innovators in biomedical sciences. Moreover, I am thankful to Walt Klimecki’s R25 and the EHS-TRUE program that was borne from his efforts. Mentoring past and current EHS-TRUE students as well as other honors students in my lab, has been a true gift. Their young spirit of inquiry is motivating. Ms. Pottenger and Ms. Gardner are a joy to teach and have true value to my research progress.”

In 2008, at the occasion of UBRP’s 20th anniversary, the UBRP Outstanding Mentor Awards were created to recognize the excellent mentorship that students receive. Ever since, UBRP students and alumni nominate their mentors for these awards each year, and the finalists are chosen by a student committee. Two awards for outstanding mentorship are given each year: one to a faculty mentor, and one to a post-doc, graduate student, or research technician.