The Honors College is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Michelle Kutzler, an associate professor in the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, as the 2021 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 Honors College students and alumni. A list of previous Eminent Mentors is available here.
“I’m so honored, and it’s hard to put words to it,” Michelle says. “I know that there are amazing faculty mentors – reading through the list of previous awardees, I’m just so honored to be included in this group.”
The Honors College Eminent Mentor award is named after Margaret and Thomas Meehan. Both Thomas and Margaret taught in OSU’s Department of History, and Margaret served as the director of the honors program and Oregon State – the predecessor to the Honors College – from 1974 to 1986. During their careers, Thomas and Margaret were well-known and recognized across campus for their passionate teaching and mentorship of undergraduate students.
Michelle is a native of Kent, Wash. and received her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees at Washington State University. After working as a veterinarian, she attended Cornell University for a residency in theriogenology, the study of animal reproduction, physiology and pathology, earning a Ph.D. in physiology. Michelle also earned a Master’s in Business Administration in organizational leadership from OSU after becoming a faculty member in 2002.
Michelle has extensive experience teaching and mentoring honors students, with as many as nine mentees at any given time. She has been primary mentor on the honors theses of 17 HC graduates.
“I love mentoring students in research, because it’s such an experience of discovering,” Michelle says, “you’re not only [involved] in the discovery of what they’re finding through their research, but the discovery of their own confidence in themselves.”
As well as teaching classes like Companion Animal Production, Equine Reproduction, Mammalian Reproductive Biology and more, Michelle is an academic advisor and is responsible for the theriogenology research program. She also teaches honors colloquia – in spring 2021, she taught a course on The Story of Dogs.
Though she works with multiple undergraduate and graduate mentees, students say Michelle gives her best to everyone no matter what.
“No matter what the research is, she makes sure to work with her mentees to help us get the best data that we can,” Patrick Callagy, a spring 2021 honors graduate in biology who nominated Michelle, says. “Additionally, she allows us to better our own understanding of our research. Through her guidance I have learned much about the research process that I will take with me into my future studies, and I owe all of that to her.”
Michelle’s mentees also say that her help and support with their research has been unique and unparalleled.
Brynley Cozzi, an honors student in animal sciences who will begin her fourth year in fall 2021 and another nominator, says, “Dr. Kutzler has been a formative and irreplaceable support for me during my time at Oregon State University. I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to join her lab because I have been able to develop research and laboratory techniques that I will be able to apply to my future career interests of becoming a veterinarian.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, students say Michelle has continued to provide tremendous support and enthusiasm despite obstacles.
“She is efficient, proactive and effortlessly thoughtful, synthesizing expertise with compassion for the undergraduate experience,” wrote Ann Ramsey, an animal sciences major who finished her second year in spring 2021, in her nomination. “Dr. Kutzler is a dedicated and inspiring research mentor. She has helped me establish a knowledge base in a new field through facilitating research that will culminate in the defense of my Honors College thesis next year.”
In addition to the compassion and support she provides students; students who have worked with Michelle commend her ability to advance their academic and professional experience.
Brynley was encouraged and assisted by Michelle to submit an abstract to the Society of Theriogenology competitive abstract competition in the spring of 2020. The abstract was selected out of 84 scientific abstracts for presentation and was awarded fourth place out of eight abstracts presented.
Michelle also helped Brynley compose a research article, “Sperm acrosome associated 3 protein expression in equine primordial, primary, secondary, and tertiary follicles” which was published in the Clinical Theriogenology Journal in June 2021.
For the College of Agricultural Sciences Showcase and Career Fair in October 2020, it was Michelle who helped Ann win “Best Poster and Presentation” in her division.
For honors students’ thesis projects, students say Michelle has helped them gain necessary lab skills which will assist them in their future careers.
“My favorite kind of teaching is mentoring,” Michelle says. “It just gives me so much personal satisfaction to see that growth.”