Carol Bender

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building
Higher Education

Honored By

Honored by: Oland, Lynne & Tolbert, Leslie
Date submitted: January 17, 2014
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

Sometimes we are privileged to cross life paths with extraordinary women ̱ women who inspire us, delight us with their wisdom, and support us with compassion; women who have seemingly endless pools of enthusiasm and energy, who are hugely resourceful; women who possess uncommonly strong work ethics and whose work is directed toward making things better for those around them. Carol is one of these women. She is ultimately a consummate connector, one of those people in a community who know just the person needed to solve a problem or meet a need, who know all the community's assets and see how connections can spark success. Here in the University of Arizona community, Carol has created enormously effective programs that in 25 years have brought more than 2000 undergraduates into research laboratories; an astonishingly disproportionate number of those students have gone on to graduate and professional schools and some are now running their own laboratories.

Carol was a pioneer in engaging undergraduate students in hands-on research. The overwhelming success of the programs Carol developed inspired people across the US and around the world to bring undergraduate students into their labs. Carol's powerful voice for undergraduate research has been recognized in formal and informal venues, from within the university community, as well as from the Council on Undergraduate Research, the Fulbright Foundation, and foreign entities focused on undergraduate STEM education.

Carol's vision in creating the Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP), the signature undergraduate research program here at the University of Arizona, and creating the international BRAVO! (Biomedical Research Abroad: Vistas Open!) student research program as well as many other interdisciplinary programs for students, has been fundamentally informed by her initial training and experiences in social work. Work with children, with individuals and groups in the community and in hospital settings, in crisis intervention, and in community organization all helped Carol develop the inclusive, asset-based, and problem-solving approaches that she brings to her work with undergraduate researchers and the faculty with whom they work. Those approaches also guided her development of programs outside of the university. For example, Carol has had a major impact on science education in the Tucson community, by obtaining grants to support research by local high school students and their teachers, by arranging research internships for economically disadvantaged high school students, and by fostering wildly successful programs that bring beginning research skills to curious elementary and middle school students with the help of UA UBRP students. In doing so, of course, she is enlisting the next generation of scientists and is teaching undergraduates the importance and pleasure of outreach.

Carol is tireless in her work with and for students, especially undergraduates. She has been a critical innovator whose legacy in the inclusion of undergraduates in research here and abroad has been transformative. She never forgets the importance of exposing students broadly to the world around them, challenging them to see it with new eyes.

For all of this, we are most grateful, and we are in awe! Thank you, Carol!