Campus News

CURO recognizes faculty as best mentors

Hea Jin Park, left, and Ramviyas Parasuraman received this year's CURO Research Mentoring Award. (Photo by Stephanie Schupska)

Each spring at the CURO Symposium, the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities recognizes two faculty members who enhance the learning experience of undergraduate researchers at the University of Georgia.

This year’s recipients of the CURO Research Mentoring Award are Ramviyas Parasuraman, assistant professor in the School of Computing, and Hea Jin Park, associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Parasuraman is affiliated with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering under the newly elevated School of Computing at UGA. He directs the Heterogeneous Robotics Research, or HeRo, Lab, which conducts cutting-edge research in heterogeneous robotics, collective swarm intelligence and human-robot interfaces. This research has applications in humanitarian uses, urban search and rescue and GPS-denied environmental monitoring.

Parasuraman has mentored 25 undergraduates majoring in computer science and engineering disciplines since he started at UGA as an assistant professor in 2018.

“My mentoring objectives are to combine students from diverse backgrounds, encourage teamwork, foster active and hands-on learning and emphasize ‘science for good’ principles,” he said.

His students have helped catalyze a vibrant atmosphere in his lab, boosting morale and research activities. Together, they have developed a unique swarm robotics testbed for verifying and validating multi-robot and swarm intelligence algorithms.

Parasuraman’s undergraduates have published papers through three peer-reviewed international conferences. Three were named to UGA’s Top 100 Student Employees of the Year, and one received a CURO Symposium Best Paper Award. All of his students have presented their work in one of the CURO Symposiums.

Park works in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and her research program is focused on bioactive food compounds in ensuring normal prenatal development and in providing neuroprotection in pediatric traumatic brain injury. Her program uses a swine model, a valuable translational animal model that provides an excellent opportunity for undergraduates to be integrated into research projects in her laboratory.

Over the last 10 years, she has worked with more than 30 undergraduate researchers from a number of departments across campus. Over 20 of these students have presented their research at the CURO Symposium.

“As a mentor, I promote the thrill of discovery in the laboratory, which motivates students to understand science at a fundamental level and stimulates their self-confidence and desire to be lifelong learners,” Park said.

In addition to providing undergraduate students with research opportunities, she has also chaired the undergraduate research committee in her department, provided leadership for the departmental undergraduate research awards committee, and mentored students and junior faculty regarding the UGA undergraduate research program.

Nominations for the CURO Research Mentoring Award open in November. For more information and to view the criteria, visit