Peru, Nebraska – Dr. Richard Clopton, a Professor of Biology and Downey Family Honors Chair at Peru State College, was the recipient of the Clark P. Read Mentor Award from the American Society of Parasitologists in College Station, Texas, in July of 2022. Dr. Joanna J. Cielocha, Associate Professor of Biology at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, presented the award. Dr. Cielocha is a former Peru state graduate, faculty member, and mentee of Dr. Clopton.
Dr. Clopton is the 19th recipient of the Clark P. Read Mentor Award and “the first to be recognized for mentoring primarily in an undergraduate institution.”1 Dr. Clopton “has mentored 41 undergraduate students in his research program. These graduates have served as co-authors or lead authors on 17 manuscripts … and 32 of the 41 students …. have gone on to pursue graduate-level education.”2 Dr.
Cielocha credited Dr. Clopton for the impact he had on her career.
“Rich is one of the most selfless people I have ever met,” said Dr. Cielocha. “He acts as a mentor, even if you don’t know you need mentored. He has an innate ability to see people’s strengths, even when they may not see them as strengths themselves.”3
Dr. Cielocha also read quotes from many former students who had written letters of appreciation.
“The impact he has had on his current and former students is best demonstrated not through the skills taught, the papers published, or the advanced degrees many of us have acquired upon leaving his lab,” Dr. Jon Kolman, DVM, was quoted as saying, “but by the lifelong relationships and friendships that remain long after we have left.”4
Dr. Clopton attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where he earned his bachelor's degree in Agriculture and Entomology, master's degree in Entomology, and Doctoral degree in Parasitology. His “dissertation research focused on host specificity in the gregarine assemblage of mealworms. This seminal research laid the groundwork for much of the gregarine, taxonomic, systematic, and ecological work that took place in North America, and largely in and around Nebraska, for the next 30 years.” 5 Dr. Clopton conducted his post-doctoral research in the Department of Entomology at Texas A & M University before coming to Peru State in 1995 to teach, conduct research, and create an undergraduate research program. Dr. Clopton currently “teaches … serves as an advisor to biology majors and has other service-related obligations.”6 He is credited with over 60 scientific publications and has presented papers and spoken at numerous seminars throughout his career. In 2017 Dr. Clopton received the Barb Lewellen Award, which honors an outstanding faculty, staff member, or administrator who has distinguished themself through the betterment of students and student life at Peru State College. He received the Peru State College Teaching Excellence Award in both 2017 and 2004 and was named the Downey Family Honors Chair in Science in 2002.
"Mentored undergraduate research is among the most important things we do at Peru State College,” said Dr. Clopton when reached to provide a comment. “It's how students become scientists. That is, they start acting like biologists and doing what biologists do, which is to ask and answer questions about the living world and how it works. Giving our students that opportunity and watching them grow, advance, and succeed is our mission at Peru State. We're proud of them and grateful to have been there to provide a strong start."
Dr. Clopton concluded his mentor address:
"If parasitologists are gems of great price and graduate mentors are the jewelers who form, polish, and prepare them for a career, then undergraduate mentors are the prospectors. They seek, acquire, test, and prepare the raw stones. It has been my life’s great delight to sift the world for parasitological gems." He said, “I always feel grateful for the privilege that Peru State College and so many parents have given me over the years to be a mentor.”
Nestled in the hills of historic southeast Nebraska, Peru State College offers a mix of innovative online and traditional classroom undergraduate and graduate programs, including online graduate degrees in education and organizational management.
Established in 1867 as Nebraska’s first college, Peru State has transformed over the past century and a half into a state-of-the-art institution offering diverse, multifaceted educational programs annually to nearly 2,000 students.
1: Clopton, R. (2023): Introduction of Richard E. Clopton, the Clark P. Read mentor award recipient. Journal of Parasitology, 108(6), 664-668. https://doi.org/10.1645/22-75
2-6: Cielocha, J. (2023): Introduction of Richard E. Clopton, the Clark P. Read mentor award recipient. Journal of Parasitology, 108(6), 661-663. https://doi.org/10.1645/22-70
This press release was contributed by Peru State College Copywriter, Paul Rieken.