Dr. Asa Eger, Associate Professor in the Department of History, has received the 2022 Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Award for tenured faculty. Given each year by the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office (URSCO), the award recognizes faculty for outstanding efforts to engage undergraduates in experiential learning through research. The 2022 pre-tenure faculty award recipient is Dr. Jaclyn Maher, Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology.
The Thomas Undergraduate Research Mentor Awardees will be acknowledged during the UNCG Faculty and Staff Excellence Awards Ceremony at the end of the spring semester. These honors will include a plaque and $1,000 to support activities related to research and/or creative inquiry as it involves undergraduates during the following academic year.
Associate Professor Asa Eger is a historian whose research interests include Islamic and Byzantine history and archaeology, the eastern Mediterranean, frontiers and borderlands, and environmental history. Since joining UNCG in 2009, Dr. Eger has mentored 12 undergraduates across 14 projects. With a collaborative approach to mentorship, Dr. Eger helps his students create individual projects that allow them to explore topics and real-world issues they are passionate about – while developing their research skills, in the process.
Dr. Eger has published four books, including the award-winning “The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction and Exchange between Christian and Muslim Communities” and 2021’s “Antioch: A History,” which is through Routledge. He currently has four other books in preparation, with topics ranging from the excavation he recently directed at a 10th-century frontier fortress in Turkey and reexaminations of materials from a 1930s Princeton excavation at Antioch and from a survey of the plain of Aleppo.
Undergraduates have worked with Eger both locally and internationally, with six receiving support from UNCG Undergraduate Research and Creativity – or URCA – Awards. “The funding brings students in and out of archives, on international research trips, and helps them to develop research innovatively through digital means at home.”
Seth Rumbley, for example, traveled to Israel to examine the site of a destroyed Palestinian village, speak with local scholars, correct oral histories, and dive into the state archives in Jeruselem. More recently, when Gordan Cathcart couldn’t travel due to the pandemic, Eger helped him pivot to a digital project on a poorly known Bosnian community in Israel, which he pursued by examining British photography and connecting remotely with Israeli scholars and people whose grandparents and great grandparents lived in the region.
For Dr. Eger, undergraduate research is about opening doors permanently. “Broadening the historical narrative across interdisciplinary fields like archeology and public history challenges students to be critical of any one perception or story,” he says. “I aim to prepare my students to become critical thinkers – empowered, better informed, intelligent, and independent humans.”
Portions of this post are re-posted from UNCG Office of Research and Engagement. Read the full story here.