Gupta wins Thomas Undergrad Research Mentor Award

Posted on March 22, 2024

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Professor Sat Gupta, a statistician whose research interests include survey sampling and biostatistics, has received the 2024 UNCG Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award in the tenured category. Dr. Gupta has mentored 9 UNCG undergraduate students on individual projects. As the principal investigator on a current 3-year NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant and one in 2018 – and as senior personnel on previous REU grants – he has welcomed a host of visiting student researchers to our campus. He also launched the Research Experience in Statistics for UNCG Undergraduates program and serves as a co-principal investigator on a multi-year, multi-million NSF LSAMP grant, which aims to increase the number of STEM and graduate degrees awarded to historically underrepresented groups and which includes undergraduate research mentorship as one of its core activities.

Gupta with the summer 2023 NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates statistics group at UNCG. Participants included 3 UNCG students, 2 UNC Wilmington students, and students from the UL Lafayette, UNC Asheville, Georgia, Moravian, and UT Austin.

Gupta, who is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, believes teaching and research are intertwined. He invests in providing students with research opportunities that cultivate their critical thinking.

“Motivating undergrads is very satisfying because it has the potential to change the trajectory of their professional career,” Gupta says.

Gupta’s mentorship strengths include building undergraduates’ holistic research skill sets, involving students in publishing work, encouraging graduate and undergraduate student collaborations, and providing career guidance. Many of his mentees have the opportunity to engage in research related to one of his main areas of expertise, randomized response models – scholarship which has important applications for health and behavioral sciences. Gupta, who has published over 165 journal articles, has co-authored 10 peer-reviewed articles with his undergraduate mentees. His students have also presented their research across the world and attended highly sought-after graduate programs. Gupta’s undergraduate research mentees have gone on to conduct their graduate work at a variety of locations, including, Cornell, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, and the University of Washington Seattle.

Anya Mikhaylova, a UNCG graduate currently working on her PhD in Biostatistics at the University of Washington, says: “My two years (working with Gupta) were the most impactful of my career.”

Dr. Qi Zhang, who participated in undergraduate research with Gupta as a biochemistry major and completed a UNCG masters in mathematics and PhD in Computational Mathematics with him as her advisor, says, “Dr. Gupta is not only a good mentor from the technical perspective but is also very experienced in career planning for students. In my one-on-one conversations with him, he often talked to me about the various possibilities of career direction and gave me an analysis of the pros and cons. He also emphasized the importance of some soft skills, such as communication, creative thinking, and time management.”

Meet URSCO’s 2024 Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards winner in the pre-tenure category.

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