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UGA College of Education names four inaugural Distinguished Research Mentors

Pictured are: (L-R) Dean Emeritus Russ Yeany

Athens, Ga. – Four University of Georgia faculty members-Steve Oliver, Jay Rojewski, Peter Smagorinsky and Sally Zepeda-have been named the College of Education’s first Distinguished Research Mentors for the 2011-12 academic year.

“Sustained training in the processes of academic research is an integral part of a student’s doctoral education. The research apprenticeship with experienced faculty is a key component to prepare students for a career in research,” said Noel Gregg, associate dean and UGA Distinguished Research Professor. “The value of the apprenticeship/mentoring model is evidenced by strengthened opportunities for exploring diverse research traditions and epistemologies. The importance of the apprenticeship period and its impact on a student’s subsequent successes cannot be overestimated.”

In recognition of faculty members’ involvement in the preparation of the next generation of education researchers, the COE Research Office is awarding $4,000 to four faculty mentors each academic year to help support their ongoing research activities. The 2011-12 Distinguished Research Mentors were recognized at the fall faculty meeting Sept. 14 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.

Steve Oliver, professor and program coordinator of science education and associate head of the department of mathematics and science education, has several prominent strengths as a research mentor, according to his colleagues. The foremost of these is his detailed knowledge of statistics, including the most sophisticated multivariate methods, and his practical and theoretical mastery of the identification and measurement of effective factors in science education research.

Jay Rojewski, a professor in career and technical education for the last 20 years, lists three separate areas in which he has opportunities to mentor graduate students: doctoral-level instruction of all students, service as a member on doctoral committees and major professor to doctoral students.

Peter Smagorinsky, a UGA Distinguished Research Professor in language and literacy education, divides his approach to mentoring into two categories: broad national efforts and mentoring of students at UGA. On the national level, he has directed all of the research entities of the National Council of Teachers of English, including co-editor of Research in the Teaching of English, chair of the Research Foundation, chair of the Standing Committee on Research, president of the National Conference on Research in Language and Literacy, co-chair of the Assembly for Research, and two terms as chair of the Research Forum. Through these capacities, Smagorinsky has worked to open the field for broader participation and instituted programs and efforts to foster the development of the next generation of researchers.

Sally Zepeda, a professor in educational administration and policy, is noted for her research on differentiated and developmental instructional supervision, teacher professional development, the overall construct of principal and central office leadership, and the improvement of teaching and learning. She has sponsored 11 doctoral students with her grant projects since 2007 (11 full-time, 20 hours per week for 12 months), enabling the students to gain valuable experience in a variety of areas. Most notable about Zepeda’s research agenda is her ability to bring her scholarship to the field of practice and her ability to link the field of practice to research, a skill she has shared with her students.

For more information on these UGA College of Education faculty members, see


Note to editors: Downloadable images of the Distinguished Research Mentors are available at:
Steve Oliver:
Jay Rojewski:
Peter Smargorinsky:
Sally Zepeda:

Note to editors: A multi-media presentation on the College of Education’s Distinguished Research Mentors is available at