Jensen receives CAREER Award to address undergrad mental health


Miranda Holloway

Bioengineering professor Karin Jensen received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her proposal “Supporting Undergraduate Mental Health by Building a Culture of Wellness in Engineering.” 

Teaching Assistant Professor Karin Jensen
Teaching Assistant Professor Karin Jensen

With this grant Jensen wants to study how mental health in undergraduate programs in engineering is perceived by students, as well as exploring the roles that faculty, administrators, and staff play in supporting or dismantling the idea that a successful engineering degree requires a high-stress environment. 

Her goal is to learn how students feel about the high-stress environment and what positive coping strategies they develop. With this information, proactive training can be given to faculty, staff, and administrators to promote student well-being and create a positive culture. 

“The support from the NSF CAREER award will help my team better understand the undergraduate student experience, particularly in regard to mental health. Ultimately, we want to promote a culture of wellbeing in engineering programs that supports all students thriving.”

The CAREER Award is part of The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. This is the most prestigious award given by the NSF to young faculty and is meant to help them build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Jensen is the first teaching track faculty at The Grainger College of Engineering to receive a CAREER Award. Previously, Jensen received a RIEF grant from the NSF to study undergrad mental health, and her group is currently funded but three grants. 

“I am very proud of having a colleague like Prof. Karin Jensen in the Grainger College of Engineering who has excelled in research as well as in teaching," Dean Rashid Bashir said. "This NSF CAREER award, the first ever to a teaching faculty in our College, is a national recognition of her excellence and of her very bright future”. 

She came to the college in 2015 as a lecturer, and is now a teaching assistant professor. Jensen received her PhD from the University of Virginia and did post-doctoral work at Sanofi.