CUSE Staff

The Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement is located in 230 Mary Idema Pew Library, atop the stairs on the second floor. Contact us or come see us today to schedule a meeting, inquire about getting involved in undergraduate research and/or applying for fellowships, or give us an update about your success.

Full Time Staff

Susan Mendoza Bitmoji

Susan Mendoza, Ph.D. she/her/hers
Director, Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement
Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship

Dr. Susan Mendoza is the founding director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). She earned her PhD at Western Michigan University, Master of Arts at Michigan State University, and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science and anthropology from Michigan State University with specializations in African Studies and International Development. Dr. Mendoza was also selected as a King, Parks Chavez Faculty Fellow in 2012. Prior to her role with OURS, Dr. Mendoza has held multiple roles at GVSU, Kalamazoo College, and Michigan State University in integrative learning, career development, academic advising, residence life, and internationalizing student life. As a practitioner, Dr. Mendoza focuses on employing innovative programmatic design networks as a mechanism to build equity for students across disciplines and social identities. Dr. Mendoza’s current research focuses on the intersection of disciplinary epistemology, high impact interventions, mentorship, and student agency.

Brenda Tooley Bitmoji

Brenda Tooley, Ph.D. she/her/hers
Associate Director, Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement
Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships

Brenda is an experienced academic administrator and faculty member, with a focus in recent years on international education and international students. She has most recently administered a very active study abroad program, promoting off-campus study, volunteer opportunities and internships, curricular offerings and programs supporting internationalization and globalized perspectives upon complex issues; she has also directed a Peace Corps Prep program and looks forward to encouraging students to explore Peace Corps as well as the many other national fellowship possibilities available to them. Dr. Tooley received her PhD from the University of Notre Dame in 1991. Her training and scholarship initially focused on eighteenth-century British literature and literary theory; her teaching and publication work has been primarily on eighteenth-century satire and novels, Gothic novels, and utopian/dystopian literature, and more recently on the use of English as creative medium by young writers within the former Eastern bloc. She is also a published poet who loves cats, opera, jazz and country music, books of many sorts, long walks, and gardening.

Staff picture of Minh Tran

Minh Tran, M.ED. he/him/his
Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement Assistant

Minh Tran joined the Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement in 2023. He previously worked as a Records Assistant - Auditor when he joined Grand Valley 5 years ago and currently works with Dr. Mendoza on organizing CUSE programs, managing budgets, and assisting students, among other roles. Minh earned his BS in Case Management at Davenport University and MED at Grand Valley in Adult and Higher Education. He enjoys vacationing, spending time with family, video games, building PCs, basketball, tennis, ping pong and all things Michigan and Detroit sports. He doesn't have any pets, unless you count his son's two fishes, Ninja and Dusty.

Courtney Sherwood Bitmoji

Courtney Sherwood, B.A. she/her/hers
Program Coordinator

Courtney Sherwood came to GVSU in 2002. Prior to joining CUSE, Courtney was fortunate to wear many hats at the university including records auditor, CLAS Dean’s office support (including grant support), and office coordinator for the Kutsche Office of Local History. Courtney holds a B.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Norwich University. She loves nothing more than traveling with her family (unless it's hiding from them with a good book).

Part Time Staff & Partners

OURS Graduate Assistants and Faculty Fellows

Jack Boitel Bitmoji

Jack Boitel he/him/his
Graduate Assistant

Jack is a graduate student in the Social Innovation Program at Grand Valley. He also attended his undergrad at GVSU, earning his BS in Political Science with a minor in Human Rights. His areas of interest revolve around human rights and sustainability. While in Grad School, he serves as the Fellowships Graduate Assistant through the Center for Undergraduate Scholar Engagement. He enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and drinking coffee with friends.

Bitmoji of Anna Hammersmith

Anna Hammersmith
OURS Faculty Fellow

Professor Hammersmith’s areas of specialization are aging, health, parent’s relationships with their adult children, caregiving, as well as union dissolution and formation in later life. At GVSU, Professor Hammersmith mentors students in many disciplines (e.g., Sociology, BMS, Movement Science, and Nursing) on all types of social science research projects including students’ own independent research, faculty led work, as well as Honor’s Projects.

Bitmoji of Kaity Soholt

Kaity Soholt she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant

Kaity received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in Electronic Media from The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She now pursues her Master of Science in Communication at Grand Valley State University, aspiring to get into the broadcast/film industry after graduation. Kaity loves to watch and discuss movies, drink coffee while thrifting, and show off every picture of her adorable pets from her camera roll! 

Student Assistants

Haley Clark Bitmoji

Haley Clark she/her/hers
Student Assistant

Haley is a third year student at Grand Valley studying Secondary Education and Chemistry. When she isn't in the office, Haley is probably in Padnos studying or swimming at the rec. She enjoys finding her next favorite song or facetiming with her family in Illinois. Haley plans on teaching high school Chemistry and Biology once she graduates from GV.

Brynn Buschle Bitmoji

Brynn Buschle she/her/hers
Student Assistant

Brynn is a freshman double majoring in Dance and Political Science. When she’s not dancing or in the library Brynn likes to read, go on hikes, and hang out with her friends.

Kylie Louch Bitmoji

Kylie Louch she/her/hers
Student Assistant

Kylie is a sophomore at Grand Valley State University majoring in Nursing with the intent of becoming a Midwife. Kylie is a proud Oliver Wilson Scholar. She enjoys reading romance books, playing video games, as well as going swing dancing downtown Grand Rapids. A fun fact about Kylie is she can recite word for word the full movie of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

OURS Student Ambassadors

Sawyer Barton Bitmoji

Sawyer Barton

Sawyer is a junior majoring in biology with an interest in furthering her education in veterinary school or going into wildlife biology research! She frequently enjoys running in the rain and loves blueberry bagels. She also has a long list of science jokes that she will share with you if given the opportunity. 

Bitmoji of Louis Cousino

Louis Cousino he/him/his

Louis is a senior studying sociology at Grand Valley. His research interests involve the student experience in higher education. Louis is proud to be a McNair scholar and a Student Ambassador for OURS. When not in Au Sable Hall, he can be found enjoying coffee, reading, writing, and photography. He plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology with a focus on higher education and social stratification.

Owen Laverty Bitmoji

Owen Laverty

Owen is a senior at GVSU studying Finance and Economics with a certificate in Applied Data Analytics. He is involved with the Frederik Meijer Honors College and the Seidman Investment Portfolio Organization. Outside of school, he enjoys watching sports, reading, and playing Spikeball. Owen hopes to work in real estate asset management or development consulting in Chicago after graduating this December.

Alexis Phillips Bitmoji

Alexis Phillips

Alexis is a fifth-year senior studying Exercise Science and Psychology. As a research assistant in the Social Science Lab, she has helped conduct surveys regarding water quality in West Michigan. She was able to integrate her interest in mobility disabilities into these surveys by designing questions to ask survey recipients about the accessibility of parks in their local watersheds. The data from one of these surveys was used to create a design at the 2022 Chalk Art Festival! In her free time, Alexis enjoys being crafty and tending to her plants. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy. 

Seth Wolfgang Bitmoji

Seth Wolfgang

Seth is a senior majoring in Computer Science with a minor in mathematics.  He enjoys learning something new or playing video games. He is often in Mackinac Hall studying, talking to friends, or participating in Computing Club. Seth is passionate about research and dreams of becoming a scientist one day.


Zoe Ziegler bitmoji

Zoe Ziegler

Zoe is a junior majoring in biochemistry with an interest in biomedical research. She is a member of the lacrosse team and in her free time, enjoys reading, watching F1, and trying different recipes. Zoe hopes to pursue a career that combines medicine and research. 

Page last modified August 18, 2023