Master’s Student Honored for Her Outstanding Mentorship

April 11, 2022

Aislinn McLaughlin and team in the field.
Left: Aislinn McLaughlin (background) and Sarah Bailey (foreground) hang up a temperature and light sensor at Long Meadow Park in Durham (Photo: Steven Anderson); Middle: Aislinn McLaughlin; Right: Ailsinn McLaughlin (foreground) and Lindsay Hu (background) take water samples at a site on Ellerbe Creek in Durham. (Photo: Jonny Behrens)

Aislinn McLaughlin (Master of Environmental Management) is the winner of the 2022 Bass Connections Award for Outstanding Mentorship. This annual award recognizes the crucial leadership and mentorship roles that graduate students and postdocs play on Bass Connections teams. McLaughlin will receive a monetary prize.

Among many strong nominations, McLaughlin’s rose to the top. Nominations from her fellow team members and leaders described the essential role that she played in fostering a positive and empowering team environment, guiding students through new material across a range of research topics, and helping students navigate the challenges of the research process.

In addition to McLaughlin, finalists for this year’s award included:

Aislinn McLaughlin

McLaughlin is a second-year student in the Master of Environmental Management program in the Nicholas School for the Environment. She is interested in water resources management, focusing in particular on how to help rural communities adapt to water-related challenges exacerbated by climate change.

In her role on the A City and Its River: Durham’s Ellerbe Creek Watershed project team, McLaughlin has helped the team map and quantify the amount of public and private green space within the watershed. She has also partnered with undergraduate team member Sarah Bailey and team co-leader Steven Anderson, to collect light and temperature data at selected green spaces in the watershed.

Team photo.
Aislinn McLaughlin (top row; third from left) with her teammates and volunteers before a water sampling trip to Ellerbe Creek. (Photo: Courtesy of Aislinn McLaughlin)

Aislinn worked with me not just as a project partner, but as a listening mentor, helping me work through uncertainties … By showing me what healthy and enjoyable small group research can look like, Aislinn has significantly improved my experience with Bass Connections. Through clear but encouraging communication and organization, excitement for what she and others were interested in exploring, and technically guiding me and my teammates throughout the various stages of research, Aislinn has been an exceptional example of what mentorship can and should look like. Having such a positive impact working with Aislinn this year has increased my interest and excitement to do research in the future, which I am in the process of pursuing now. –Sarah Bailey, Undergraduate Team Member

The ways in which Aislinn selflessly gives of her time to mentor undergraduate researchers on her team is a testament to her helpful nature and generous approach to research. She has been a true example of how to work hard while maintaining positivity, and offering expertise to younger students around her even though she is in the midst finishing her master’s project ... In meetings and in the field, she has been a standout example of how to ask the right questions and how to share helpful information and knowledge to the broader Durham community. –Steven Anderson, Team Leader

I am incredibly grateful for the time Aislinn has given to teach me how to use ArcGIS, a skill that I will be able to use not only for our project, but also for the future. She is patient and helpful … and gives us all space to share our work and ideas and helpful suggestions or ways to improve on our thoughts. I am always impressed by her technical skills and how she easily can share what she’s working on with the larger group, even when what she is presenting is very specific and outside most people’s general knowledge. –Lindsey Weyant, Undergraduate Team Member

As a direct result of Aislinn’s positivity and passion, I felt more empowered to participate in group discussions because I knew that whatever I said would be met with genuine curiosity and investment. She is an inspiration from an academic perspective as well as a fantastic example of a mentor and colleague who uplifts others and ensures that the entire team learns and grows together. –Maria Morrison, Undergraduate Team Member

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