A photo of Chris Lassiter in front of a bookshelf
9.14.2020
By Roanoke College News

Lassiter recognized with national award as Outstanding Mentor to biology students

Dr. Chris Lassiter, professor of biology, has been honored as an outstanding mentor to biology students. Lassiter received the Council of Undergraduate Research’s Biology Mentor award for mid-career faculty.

“The award committee was very impressed by your application materials and your letters of support, all indicating your deep engagement working with students as they develop into scientists in their own right,” Janet A. Morrison, chair, CUR Biology Division Mentor Award Committee, said in the award letter.

Lassiter also serves as Roanoke’s director of undergraduate research. He has been recognized with the Dean’s Council award for exemplary service for his work in this area.

“In my first semester at Roanoke College I took Dr. Lassiter’s Principles of Biology class and was immediately astounded by his ability to connect with students,” Rebecca Hudon ‘17 said. “Infusing energy into his subject material through comic strips, videos and fun facts, he showed his willingness to breach the generational gap to his students to help engage them in the material.” Hudon, who was a Rhodes Scholar finalist as a Roanoke student is now an M.D. candidate at University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She wrote one of the letters in support of Lassiter’s nomination. 

Lassiter is also well known for his love and knowledge of the country’s national parks. He teaches a course dedicated to national parks and also extends conference road trips to allow research students to visit national parks along the way.

“Dr. Lassiter does not simply teach biology. He also teaches important lessons about life and personal growth. He recognizes that college students need an encouraging environment where they can make mistakes, find passions and become well rounded people.”

Rebecca Hudon '17

Hudon recalls her research lab trips. “It was on these trips that I saw my first National Parks, learned of our mutual love of showtunes, sat in a dinosaur footprint and ate the best little lemon cookies in Savannah, Georgia,” she recalls. “These trips taught me that while the destination matters, you have to enjoy the road along the way and have patience because the next great thing may be just around the corner, even if you can’t see it yet.”

“Dr. Lassiter does not simply teach biology,” Hudon said. “He also teaches important lessons about life and personal growth. He recognizes that college students need an encouraging environment where they can make mistakes, find passions and become well rounded people.”

The award committee recognized Dr. Lassiter’s dedication to his students. Through 15 years of teaching at Roanoke College, Lassiter has mentored 29 undergraduates in his zebrafish developmental biology lab. These research collaborations with students have been very productive, resulting in several published papers with student co-authors and numerous posters with students, including many presentations at regional, national and international professional conferences.

“Dr. Lassiter is deserving of this award, not just because of his teaching or research,” junior Kasey Cooper said, “but because he is a selfless and caring professor who puts his students first and inspires them to explore what interests them while becoming knowledgeable, responsible, and confident adults. Dr. Lassiter is the research professor I aim to be in the future. He is a passionate professor, knowledgeable research mentor and caring academic advisor. He truly is what all undergraduate research professors should strive to be.” Cooper wrote one of the letters in support of his nomination. 

Lassiter has taught at Roanoke College since 2005. He holds a bachelor of science from Furman University and a Ph.D. in genetics and genomics from Duke University. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He has been recognized at Roanoke College with the Dean’s Award for Exemplary Teaching

Winners of the biology mentor awards are listed on the CUR website.   

 

A Great Mentor