The Honors College is pleased to announce the selection of College of Public Health and Human Sciences Associate Professor Sam Logan as the 2020 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Mentor. Each year, one faculty member is selected for this recognition by a panel of distinguished honors faculty and mentors from a pool of undergraduate research mentors nominated by students and recent alumni. A list of previous Eminent Mentors is available here.
“It is a great honor and privilege to receive the 2020 Margaret and Thomas Meehan Honors College Eminent Mentor award,” Sam says. “I urge everyone to take a minute out of their day and learn more about the Meehans. They were dedicated faculty members at OSU and left a lasting legacy on the university, the Honors College and the community.”
Margaret and Thomas Meehan came to Oregon State University (then Oregon State College) in 1962. Thomas worked as a professor in the Department of History until his retirement in 1987; Margaret worked in the OSU Library before later joining Thomas in the Department of History. Thomas was much loved for his dedication to teaching and mentorship of undergraduate students, often earning recognition across campus for his efforts. After helping to establish the University Honors Program — a predecessor to today’s Honors College — Margaret served as its director from 1974 until her retirement in 1986.
Sam came to Oregon State in 2014 after receiving his Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Auburn University and completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Delaware. His research focuses on the health and wellbeing of typically developing children and children with disabilities, as well as the role of independent mobility in healthy pediatric development.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Sam serves as the Director of the Social Mobility Lab & PlayTech Workshop at Oregon State. The Social Mobility Lab investigates the design, prototyping and testing of toy-based technologies, with particular emphasis in designing modified ride-on toy cars and providing them to children with disabilities to encourage independent mobility and healthy development.
“During my first term at Oregon State University in the fall of 2015, I began volunteering in Dr. Sam Logan’s Social Mobility Lab,” says Jenna Fitzgerald, the recent honors alum who nominated Sam. “Over the rest of my undergraduate educational career at OSU, I remained committed to this lab due to both the passion I developed for research with children with disabilities and Dr. Logan’s mentorship.
“Dr. Logan’s mentoring style facilitates effective independent learning and problem solving, yet he is always eager to answer questions and provide more direct guidance if necessary,” Jenna says. “Throughout my experience, this approach helped me to develop independence in the lab, all the while knowing that I could turn to Dr. Logan when I faced a challenge.”
Honors students have a unique opportunity to explore and participate in Sam’s research and outreach work by taking Toy-Based Technology for Children with Disabilities, a hands-on colloquium class that Sam teaches in the Honors College nearly every term.
Often, students that take Toy-Based Technology for Children with Disabilities find themselves interested in the field and stay on in the lab after their term in the class is over. Many of these students find a home on campus — and a lifelong mentor — at the same time.
“I was part of a team that received a grant to conduct summer research on designing and testing a toy-based mobility device for young children with disabilities,” Sam explains. “A first-year OSU student in the course, Thomas Weathers, expressed interest in becoming involved in the project. Thomas’ experience turned into a thesis, as well as continued mentorship over the next few years.
“We continue to work together on projects, and I’m confident in saying that this will be a lifelong mentor/mentee relationship,” Sam says.
In addition to his colloquium, Sam further supports the honors experience by serving as a frequent thesis mentor. He has already mentored eight different students; a significant accomplishment made even more impressive by the fact that his first mentee defended their thesis in 2017.
“Undergraduates gain a lot of valuable real-world experience from completing an honors thesis,” Sam says. “The thesis process really encourages students to develop new skills, including to critically read research literature, understand and analyze data and strengthen writing abilities. In addition, the thesis process places an emphasis on taking ownership of your work and develops students’ ability to work independently, while also understanding that it’s okay to ask for help. These are all skills that will translate and be useful for students in their future careers.”
Sam’s students and mentees grow though both academic involvement and personal support. Students leave empowered to pursue whatever’s next, ready to use the skills and experiences given to them by their time in the lab.
“My philosophy includes providing undergraduates with opportunities to dig into the research process and learn by doing,” Sam explains. “I provide guidance, but I also believe that the most learning comes from critical thinking and problem solving.”
“[Sam is] committed to supporting and guiding student researchers throughout their experience at OSU and beyond,” Jenna says. “Personally, Dr. Logan’s influence has continued to benefit me as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
“I am immensely grateful for my experience in the Social Mobility Lab and for the relationship that I built with Dr. Logan, who continues to be a mentor to me today, even a year after I have graduated from OSU,” she adds.
Students from Sam’s lab have gone on to numerous graduate school and professional opportunities, each having gained something from his mentorship. At the same time, Sam feels as though he’s learned from them.
“I’ve had a fantastic experience with mentoring undergraduates through the thesis process and teaching a colloquium in the Honors College,” Sam says. “I’d like to thank all of the students who have worked with me in the past who contributed to receiving this recognition.”
By Christopher McCracken: Media Assistant, Honors College