Paul Miller: mentor in research for faculty and students

Professor of Exercise Science Paul Miller guides students and faculty members, helping shape their path and reach their full potential.

Whether Paul Miller, professor of exercise science, is mentoring a student or assisting colleagues who want to get students involved in research, he is considered a role model, inspiration and great resource.

“He’s one of the most collaborative and supportive faculty colleagues we’ve ever known, and works tirelessly to help both students and faculty develop and grow,” a colleague says.

As the director of undergraduate research, Miller offers faculty development in mentoring so they are better prepared to assist students. His extensive knowledge of the process makes it easier for newer faculty members to get involved. He is willing to take time to answer their questions.

“When faculty members seek assistance with undergraduate research applications or are unsuccessful in first attempts to help students secure funding, Paul takes it upon himself to offer constructive feedback, offering to meet personally with new colleagues to support their work as mentors in the larger context of faculty development and strengthening the teacher-scholar-mentor model at Elon,” a colleague says.

Miller’s work with students has helped many of them achieve their career goals.

“He has changed their lives and helped them find not just a job; he has helped them discover their vocations,” a colleague says. “From his department to the university, our entire community has benefitted from his efforts to make us stronger at what we do.”

Students appreciate Miller’s support. For one former student, Miller turned his curiosity for the health sciences into a passion.

“Dr. Miller treated the student-mentor relationship as if we were colleagues,” the former student says. “It was an honor to feel as if I wasn’t just a student and that he trusted my problem-solving skills and knowledge of physiology. The confidence he had in me really helped me discover my own way to solve problems.”

After working with Miller on her Honors Fellow thesis, one former student discovered she would make a good clinical nurse leader, whose role is to mentor other nurses.

“Dr. Miller demonstrated that a mentor should not only guide but should also allow the student to take the lead and develop intellectual inquiry,” a former student says. “Quite often during our weekly meeting, Dr. Miller would allow me to pose questions and together we would investigate.”

After taking Miller’s research methods class, many students discover how much work is required and are motivated to take it on. “During the course of that class, Dr. Miller started to give me a realistic view of the research process but in a way that made me excited to pursue it,” a student says. “It didn’t matter that research, overall, is a very daunting process for an 18 year old because he spoke about it with such contagious enthusiasm.”

Since joining Elon’s staff in 1997, Miller has made it possible for students to present their research at a variety of conferences and get published in peer-reviewed journals. Many of his former students have been accepted into quality graduate programs.

“Paul’s work with undergraduate research is known on campus as an exemplar of the highest quality mentoring,” a colleague says. “He is a highly sought out adviser and serves as an impressive role model.”

Gaining experience presenting at conferences, has helped many students gain confidence and career opportunities.

“These conferences have helped me network within my discipline outside of Elon,” a student says. “He has given me the opportunity to sit on a research panel and discuss my research. Never have I felt such pride and confidence in my own work.”

Miller received a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Michigan, a Master of Education from Cleveland State University and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Miami. He teaches a variety of courses, including exercise physiology, exercise biochemistry, chronic and acute disease, research methods, sports medicine and exercise motivation.

Paul Miller is the seventh recipient of the Ward Family Excellence in Mentoring Award, which honors a faculty or staff member who demonstrates a commitment to Elon undergraduates through outstanding mentoring. The award was established by Tom and Beth Ward P ’05, ’08, ’14, their sons, A.T. ’05, Christopher ’08 and Chase ’14, and Tom Ward’s mother, Dorothy Mears Ward GP ’05, ’08, ’14.