Shelley Pressley, Director of Undergraduate Research, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5443,

Mary Sanchez Lanier, Assistant Vice Provost, 509-335-7767,

Beverly Makhani, Director of Communications and Marketing, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,

PULLMAN, Wash. — The 2015 Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) at Washington State University broke many records on March 30, in terms of participation, number of awards, number of winners, sponsoring donors, and attendance.

With topics ranging from ocelot latrines to the role of vitamin A in spermatogonia, and from apparel websites to commuting rural nurses, 189 students from four campuses plus WSU Extension registered to display posters in eight categories on their research, scholarship, and creative activities at the fourth annual event.

Judges’ scores resulted in 44 awards being presented to 51 winners—the most in SURCA history. Five sponsors also provided a generous pool of award money: Alturas Analytics, Inc.; The Boeing Company; Decagon Devices, Inc.; the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program; and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

“As WSU’s signature event for undergraduate researchers, SURCA’s future is exciting,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “We anticipate even larger events in the future, with more employer connections and recognition for students.”

“The quality of presentations made by students in disciplines across the university and the depth of knowledge they expressed about their projects was outstanding,” said Shelley Pressley, director of Undergraduate Research, a program in the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, host of the event. “The impact of their work is furthering the efforts of their mentors while also adding to the knowledge base in their field.”

Several SURCA participants indicated they are co-authors of research papers in progress that they hope will be published in scholarly journals.

Five of the top presenters in 2015 have previously won SURCA awards. Winners who had also won in 2014 are: Adam Denny, WSU Vancouver; Joseph Traverso, WSU Tri-Cities; and Jack Hyder, WSU Pullman. Winners who had also won in SURCA 2013 are Pullman students Joelle Martin and Amy Nusbaum.

The largest number of presenters in 2015 were in the Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology category, followed by the Social Sciences category.

An abstract book describing every presenter’s project is on the SURCA website. Presenters earned points based on evaluations from at least three judges using a standard rubric; the highest award is the Crimson, followed by the Gray. Novice Researcher awards are for students who have worked one or two semesters on their project and were judged to show exceptional promise. Early Career awards are made to exceptional freshmen and sophomores.

By SURCA category, the 2015 winners, their fields of study, and mentors are:

Applied Sciences (2 awards to 2 students)

  • Crimson award (1): Jessica Murray, food science and hospitality business management, with mentor Craig Morris
  • Gray award (1): Victoria Minette, food science, Carolyn Ross.

Arts and Design (4 awards to 6 students)

  • Crimson award (1): Adam Denny and Frankie Dunn, both digital technology and culture, with mentor Dene Grigar, WSU Vancouver
  • Gray awards (2): Miranda McCrory, interior design, mentor Kathleen Ryan; and Uris Giron, interior design, mentor Kathleen Ryan
  • Early Career award (1): Alyssa Korinke and Kate Palermini, both digital technology and culture, mentor Will Luers, WSU Vancouver

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences (1 award to 2 students)

  • Crimson award (1): Daniel Herrera* and Joseph Traverso, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering respectively, with mentor Nikolaos Voulgarakis, WSU Tri-Cities

Humanities (3 awards to 3 students)

  • Crimson award (1): James Pappas, history and humanities-general studies, with mentor Noriko Kawamura
  • Gray award (1): Joshua Johnson, history, organic agriculture certificate, and Honors College, mentor Robin Bond
  • Early Career award (1): Claire Thornton, history and Honors College, Lydia Gerber

Engineering and Physical Sciences (7 awards to 7 students)

  • Crimson awards (3): Benjamin Schuessler, materials science and engineering, with mentor Pui Ching (Amy) Wo; Zane Duke, bioengineering and Honors College, mentor Anita Vasavada; and Ashton Powell, chemistry, mentor Paul Benny
  • Gray awards (3): Alexander McCue, chemistry, mentor Aurora Clark; Muad Saleh, materials science and Honors College, mentor John McCloy; and Samuel Byrd, bioengineering and Honors College, mentor Howard Davis
  • Novice award (1): Joseph Kabel, materials science and engineering, mentor John McCloy

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology (10 awards to 12 students)

  • Crimson awards (4): Samantha Grover, bioengineering, with mentor Dmitri Tolkatchev; Sophie Ascaso, zoology/vet med and Honors College, mentor Kwan Hee Kim; Brianna Berg, biochemistry and Honors College, and Jack Hyder, general studies-biological sciences, mentor Jonel Saludes; and Alexandra Vaughn, neuroscience, mentor Krzysztof Czaja.
  • Gray awards (5): Hannah Pulcastro, neuroscience/pre-med, mentor Bertrand Tanner; Kayla Cribbin, zoology/pre-med and Honors College, mentor Joanna Kelley; Miles Linde, biochemistry and philosophy and Honors College, and Marina Martin, biochemistry/pre-med and Honors College, mentor Alan Goodman; Vikram Chandra, bioengineering and Honors College, mentor Murali Chandra; and Brandon Graham, bioengineering and the Honors College, mentor Wenji Dong.
  • Novice award (1): Megan Caruso, bioengineering and Honors College, mentor Monica Hinds

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology (7 awards to 7 students))

  • Crimson awards (2): Edward Thomas, agricultural biotechnology, with mentor Dean Glawe; and Katie Wat, wildlife ecology and conservation, mentor Lisa Shipley
  • Gray awards (5): Travis King, zoology and Honors College, mentor Daniel Thornton; Kayla Titialii*, zoology, mentor Erica Crespi; Nicholas Greene, neuroscience and psychology, mentor Rebecca Craft; Scott Mitchell, biology, R. mentor Dave Evans and Sarah Anderson; and Daniel Nicoara, biochemistry, mentor Raymond Quock.

Social Sciences (10 awards to 12 students)

  • Crimson awards (4): Quinn Sullivan, apparel, merchandising, textiles, and design, with mentor Ting Chi; Maira Birrueta, psychology and Spanish, mentor Paul Kwon; Lauren Rachel Young, history/pre-law and Honors College; mentor Lydia Gerber; and Ariana Garcia, sociology and social sciences-general studies, mentor Kathleen Rodgers
  • Gray awards (6): Colleen Chalmers, psychology and human development and Honors College, mentor Brittany Rhoades Cooper; Amy Nusbaum, psychology, mentors Paul Whitney and John Hinson; Melissa Halley and David Saldivar, psychology and zoology respectively, mentors John Hinson, Paul Whitney, Arig Aboulenein; Rebecca Ly, management information systems, mentor Doug Hindman; Geddie Lojas, nursing and Honors College, mentor Gail Oneal, WSU Spokane; and Iris Charlotte Koning and Joelle Martin, psychology and neuroscience respectively, mentors John Hinson, Paul Whitney, and Christina Wilson

Special LSAMP Awards

*Two SURCA winners also received matching monetary awards from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program on campus. LSAMP students are in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and are first-generation or multicultural. The LSAMP participants who won 2015 SURCA awards are: Daniel Herrera (in the Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences category) and Kayla Titialii (in the Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology category).

For more information, visit the SURCA website.