Professor Leslie M. Thompson enjoys teaching and uses her mentorship of undergraduates in her lab as a chance to inspire and train the next generation of researchers. Through her mentorship, students have the opportunity to explore topics in depth and develop a thorough understanding of their projects. For undergraduates wanting to get involved in research, she stresses the importance of finding a topic in which they have a deep interest. Professor Thompson was awarded the 2014 Chancellorís Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for the School of Biological Sciences in recognition of her continuing dedication to the students she mentors.

1. How did you develop an interest in mentoring undergraduate research or creative projects, and what type of projects have you directed?

I have always enjoyed teaching and mentoring students, from undergraduates to medical students. This is a laboratory wide undertaking where many people in the lab help with the mentorship. We typically have worked with students on projects performing research to understand basic mechanisms altered in Huntingtonís disease.

2. What do you look for and what are your expectations of undergraduates you select to conduct research under your guidance?

Motivation, commitment, enthusiasm for the studies and curiosity for learning and reading. Our expectations are for students to become active members of the laboratory and be committed to the project they are working on. They also attend lab meetings when there is more broad mentorship from me and the whole group.

3. Describe your level of engagement and style in mentoring undergraduates.

This part varies. There is typically a graduate student or senior scientist who directly works with the undergraduates and I provide laboratory support and more broad mentorship.

4. In your experience, how have your students improved or benefited as a result of their undergraduate research experience?

They have developed a love of research and in several cases are going on to do graduate level research or postgraduate education.

5. What have you learned or benefited from guiding undergraduate research or creative projects?

The joy in watching them develop expertise and mature in their understanding of the projects.

6. What recommendations and advice would you give students embarking on undergraduate research or creative projects?

Commit to the project in a full way to maximize the experience and knowledge to be gained. Also, pick a topic you can get excited about.

Research Interests: Human genetic disorders

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '14 Emiliana Borrelli
Nov. '14 Joel Veenstra
Oct. '14 Jonathan Alexander
Sep. '14 Leslie M. Thompson
Aug. '14 Jonathan R.T. Lakey
Jul. '14 Diego Rosso
Jun. '14 James Kyung-Jin Lee
May. '14 Lisa Pearl
Apr. '14 Jayne Elizabeth Lewis
Mar. '14 Donald Jay Patterson
Feb. '14 Dritan Agalliu
Jan. '14 Stephanie Reich