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Encouraging Undergraduate Research

Longtime UCR Psychology Professor Recognized for Student Mentorship

Carolyn Murray’s undergraduates excel in scholarship

(June 12, 2007)

Carolyn MurrayEnlarge

Carolyn Murray

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — Professor of Psychology Carolyn B. Murray has won the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research at the University of California, Riverside.

The award, which comes with a stipend of $3,000, is given annually by the UCR Academic Senate to a professor who has mentored undergraduate students in hands-on research projects.

Murray, who has been a professor at UC Riverside since 1980, studies African-American family dynamics, and the causes of school underachievement. She said she feels honored to have had the chance to work with so many talented young scholars.

“Many students would like to get involved with research but they don’t know how to go about it,” she said. “I have suggested research projects to them and I have watched them blossom.”

One of her students, Tom Sy, attended UCR in the 1990s and went on to graduate school and is now an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. He wrote one of the nomination letters for the award.

“While her research contributions are significant, her mentorship and development of budding scholars is perhaps her greatest contribution,” he wrote of Murray. “Through her actions, support, and positive regard, she inspires her students to see new possibilities and develop higher aspirations. I am the first person in my family to seek higher education; Carolyn has inspired me to see beyond the undergraduate degree and realize my full potential as a scholar and researcher.”

Professor Sy will soon come back to Riverside as a professor in the Department of Psychology, working alongside Murray as a colleague.

“Many of Carolyn’s former students have transferred what they have learned under her mentorship to their chosen professions and gone on to realize success,” Sy said. “I count myself among them.”

She nominated one of her current graduating seniors, Marc Kinon, for the 2007 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research, an award he won.

Murray’s nomination letter praises his scholarship, his personal drive and his community service. He was also selected as a junior fellow for the 2007 Undergraduate Research Award of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

An article co-authored by Murray and Kinon appears in the first UCR Undergraduate Research Journal, which was published recently.

“I am just really proud of them,” Murray said of her students. “They really excelled. And to think that I had anything to do with that is very rewarding.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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