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Faculty Mentors

Faculty members not only mentor students in their research, but help them present research at local, regional, and national conference. They will build skills to help you enroll in graduate school with confidence. 

Alla Balueva
Alla Balueva, Professor, Math
Watkins Academic Building, 150, Gainesville
Tanya Bennett
Tanya Bennett, Ph.D., Professor of English
Nesbitt Academic Building, 4154, Gainesville
Area(s) of Expertise: American Literature, Gender Studies, Multicultural Literatures, The Novel
Macklin Cowart
Dr. Macklin Cowart, Associate Professor, English
Nesbitt Academic Building, 4134, Gainesville
Area(s) of Expertise: Medieval literature, grammar, language/linguistics
Bryan Dawson
Bryan Dawson, Ph.D., Professor, Psychological Science, Director, Principal Investigator - McNair
Barnes Hall, 210, Dahlonega
Tom Diggs
Tom Diggs, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Plant Biology
Science, Engineering, Tech, 108, Gainesville
Area(s) of Expertise: Ecology, Evolution, Botany, Phylogeography
Susann Doyle-Portillo
Susann Doyle-Portillo, Ph.D., Department Head, Psychological Science
Strickland Academic, 124, Gainesville
Terry Easton
Terry Easton, Associate Professor, English
Nesbitt Academic Building, 4130, Gainesville
Pamela Elfenbein
Dr. Pamela Elfenbein, Director, Institute for Healthy Aging
Administration Building, Suite 111, Room 108, Gainesville
Gregory Feiden
Gregory Feiden, Ph.D., Assistant Professor Astronomy, Director, North Georgia Astronomical Observatory
Rogers Hall, 101, Dahlonega
Area(s) of Expertise: Stellar structure and evolution
Donna Gessell
Dr. Donna Gessell, Professor, English
Dunlap Hall, 206B, Dahlonega
Area(s) of Expertise: ): Eighteenth C. British, Milton, and Contemporary Literature; English Linguistics; English Pedagogy
Sheri Hardee
Sheri Hardee, Ph.D., Dean, College of Education/Professor
Dunlap Hall, 110 , Dahlonega
Michele Hill
Michele Hill, Ph.D., Associate Department Head and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology
Barnes Hall, 205, Dahlonega
Lauren Johnson
Lauren Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Dean and Associate Professor, Coordinator, COE Global Programs
Dunlap Hall, 213A/B, Dahlonega
Area(s) of Expertise: Social Foundations of Education, TESOL, Diversity Pedagogy, Cultural Anthropology, Applied Anthropology, Ethnography, Latin American and Caribbean Studies
George Justice
George Justice, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer
Classroom Building, 317, Oconee
Area(s) of Expertise: American South, Constitutional History, Political History , Georgia History, Nationalism
Sara Mason
Sara Mason, Department Head, Sociology & Human Services
Strickland Academic, 185 A, Gainesville
Michallene McDaniel
Michallene McDaniel, Professor
Strickland Academic, 102, Gainesville
Esther Morgan-Ellis
Esther Morgan-Ellis, Associate Professor of Music
Nix, 203, Dahlonega
Richelle Oakley
Richelle Oakley, Ph.D., Associate Professor - Information Systems
Nesbitt Academic Building, 5110, Gainesville
Area(s) of Expertise: Business Analytics, Programming, Databases
David Patterson
David Patterson, Associate Professor
Health and Natural Sciences, 148, Dahlonega
Bryson Payne
Bryson Payne, Ph.D., Professor - Computer Science
Barnes Hall, 129, Dahlonega
Cenate Pruitt
Cenate Pruitt, Associate Professor
Strickland Academic, 150, Gainesville
Ryan Shanks
Ryan Shanks, Ph.D., Professor, Biology
Health and Natural Sciences, 437, Dahlonega
Area(s) of Expertise: Neuroscience, Molecular Biology, Science of Teaching and Learning
Troy Smith
Troy Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychological Science
Strickland Academic, 147, Gainesville
Emilia Sola Gracia
Emilia Sola Gracia, Lecturer in Biology
Clayton Teem
Clayton Teem, Ph.D., Professor, Psychological Science
Strickland Academic, 160, Gainesville
Efren Velazquez
Efren Velazquez, Assistant Professor of Psychological Science
Strickland Academic, 218, Gainesville

Helpful Questions to Ask

You are bound to have so many questions for your mentor, you may not know where to start. You will meet with your mentor twice per month for your junior and senior year.

When meeting with your mentor, prepare and ask relevant questions and be respectful of your mentor’s time and experience. Ask yourself what you learned from the meeting and how you can apply it to your goals. We have created a list of questions that may help listed by topic.

Mentorship in General

  • Tell me about a recent setback and how you recovered?
  • What do you wish you knew at my stage?
  • What’s the most effective daily habit you possess?
  • Do you have a mentor? How have they influenced you?
  • How and where do you find inspiration?
  • Do you have any books that you would suggest I read?
  • How do you spend most of your time?
  • How can I help you?
  • Is this where you thought you would end up?
  • What used to be your biggest weaknesses? 
  • What are you most proud of?

Graduate Records Examination (GRE) Prep

  • How much will the GRE and prep cost me?
  • Are there any books/materials or workshops you suggest?
  • What are your study tips and should I get a tutor?

Graduate School

Paying for Graduate School

  • What kinds of scholarships can I apply for while in graduate school?
  • Is HOPE still an option in graduate school?
  • How can McNair help me with attending a graduate school?
  • I’ve heard that some doctoral programs will pay you to go to school, how does this work?

Applying for Graduate School

  • How do I know if a program is accredited?
  • Should I pursue a Master degree? Or go straight to a Doctoral program?
  • What are the types of experiences I can expect in a graduate program?
  • How big are the class/cohort sizes?
  • Where do I look for acceptance rates?
  • What are the different kinds of programs that schools can offer?
  • What do graduate program internships look like?
  • What are the differences in research in the programs I’m interested in?

Career Objectives

  • What’s the best advice you can give to help plan a career rather than simply work to keep a job?
  • Who else would you recommend I connect with?
  • How do you keep your feelings separate from your decision-making?
  • How do you balance your work and home life?
  • How best do you network in your field?
  • What should my LinkedIn look like?
  • What are your best interviewing tips?
  • What kinds of conferences should I consider attending? And how do I get discounted rates?


  • What must I do to be academically competitive for entrance into the programs I want?
  • What may disqualify me?
  • What kinds of real world experience do I need to attend the program I want?
  • What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways? 
  • Who should I contact to have them look over my resume or CV?
  • Are there any certifications I should get to make me stand out?
  • What sorts of hard skills are employers looking for?

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