Dr. Paul Ulrich Receives the 2016 University Faculty Award for Undergraduate Research

Dr. Paul Ulrich grew up in a family that promoted discovery and curiosity, setting the stage for his future career in higher education and biological research. In 2000, he earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Houghton College. Dr. Ulrich pursued graduate training at the University Of Delaware College Of Marine Studies, where he earned a master’s and a Ph.D. degree in marine biology and biochemistry in 2003 and 2007, respectively. His doctoral research focused on developmental biology, unicellular parasites and the impact of stress on mitochondrial physiology in temperate and Antarctic invertebrates.

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From 2006-09,  Dr. Ulrich was a postdoctoral researcher at the  Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases at the University of Georgia, where he won an American  Heart Association fellowship to investigate the role of calcium channels in Trypanosoma cruzi, the unicellular parasite that causes Chagas’ disease. At the University of Georgia, Dr. Ulrich also investigated the cell biology of Toxoplasma gondii and Trypanosoma brucei and polyphosphate metabolism. He continues research of these parasites at Georgia State University with particular interest in characterizing novel, mitochondrial proteins.

Since 2010, Dr. Ulrich has been a lecturer in the Department of Biology and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2015. He has played an important role in developing undergraduate research programs in biology and chemistry through extensive contributions to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Initiatives. Dr. Ulrich has improved access to Signature Research Experiences for undergraduates by building a supportive institutional culture, identifying creative solutions to infrastructure challenges and developing a collaborative network of engaged faculty, staff and graduate students. He has sought to support these efforts through internal funding competitions, including the Technology Fee Program and the University System of Georgia STEM Mini-Grant program, garnering more than $380,000, much of which has targeted undergraduate research.

Dr. Ulrich has mentored undergraduate researchers since he was a graduate student. Soon after arriving at Georgia State, he began contributing to the development of a Signature Research Experience program for biology majors. In fall 2011, he was instrumental in starting the Undergraduate Research Center in Kell Hall. In this facility, he and his students investigated neglected diseases that Dr. Ulrich developed an interest in as a first-year student in college. The impact of this pilot program increased in spring 2014 when Dr. Ulrich opened the Collaborative Learning Laboratory in Kell Hall, a prototype for course-based undergraduate research experiences now being used as a model for other departments. Since 2014, he has mentored 68 students in his course-based undergraduate research course focused on molecular parasitology. Nearly two-thirds of students who complete his course move into STEM-related jobs, professional training or graduate school soon after graduation.

Dr. Ulrich’s commitment to working with undergraduate researchers is born from a strong conviction that research experiences lay the strongest foundation possible for student success in STEM fields. He has creatively sought opportunities to scale up traditional, apprenticeship models that provide greater access to these transformative experiences. Providing students with rigorous and memorable training in primary research cultivates excellence in STEM graduates and creates highly sought after scholars in the job market.  He looks forward to contributing to expansion of undergraduate research programs at Georgia State and celebrating the success of our talented students.

— 2016 Georgia State University Undergraduate Research Conference