Rittenhouse-Olson Receives Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring

Left to right: Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, PhD, left; Susan Morey, her lab manager, who assists with mentoring; and Geraldine Raja, graduate student.

Published April 4, 2011

Kate Rittenhouse-Olson, PhD, director of the Biotechnology Undergraduate Program, is a recipient of the first annual UB Faculty Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduates in Research and Creative Activity.

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“Dr. Rittenhouse- Olson helps undergraduate students prepare scientific posters at a level that one would expect for graduate students. ”
Suzanne Laychock, PhD
Senior associate dean for faculty affairs and facilities

A professor in the Department of Biotechnical and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Rittenhouse-Olson is one of five faculty to receive this award from a pool of 120 nominees. She will be honored at the university’s Celebration of Excellence on April 6, 2011.

A 2008 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Rittenhouse-Olson is the founding director of the Biotechnology Undergraduate Program.

She is an outstanding laboratory research mentor at all levels. Since 1988 she has served as a major advisor for 41 graduate students and has trained 33 undergraduate students and 16 summer high school students, including two Intel Science Talent Search semifinalists and three Sidney Farber Cancer Research awardees.

“Undergraduate students in Dr. Rittenhouse-Olson’s lab are required to have an understanding of the purpose of their research rather than just learn the techniques involved in their research,” says Suzanne Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs and facilities. “She helps undergraduate students prepare scientific posters at a level that one would expect for graduate students.”

In addition, Rittenhouse-Olson is recognized for her notable success in helping students find independent study research experiences at UB and summer internships. To date, she has placed more than 100 students in internships with different biotechnology companies around the world.

Rittenhouse-Olson also motivates alumni of the program to serve as role models. Over the years, many graduates have accepted her invitation to return to UB to talk to current students about career possibilities and help them network with other alumni around the world.