WSU SURCA poster event presents 46 awards to 52 undergraduate researchers

MEDIA: Shelley Pressley, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-0014,

Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,

PULLMAN, Wash.—At Washington State University’s largest-ever Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on March 28, 57 of the more than 235 students presenting just over 200 posters landed a total of 51 awards, announced Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, event host.

The awards total $10,900. There were 20 crimson awards (the highest possible), 18 gray awards (the second highest), 6 novice awards (for students working up to two semesters on their research and who show exceptional promise), 2 early career awards (for freshmen and sophomores only) and 5 honorable mentions.

WSU-wide participation

Awards were made in each of SURCA’s eight participation categories, which are purposely designed to cover every major in all disciplines across the institution. The number of awards possible in each category is determined by the number of students participating in that category. The molecular, cellular, and chemical biology category was the largest with 51 posters presented by 52 students.

The second most popular category—social sciences—had 50 participants; 10 of those presenting 9 posters won awards. The category with the fewest presenters—7 in computer science, mathematics, statistics, and information sciences—had 1 awardee.

Strong presentations

“There were so many strong presentations,” said Mary F. Wack, WSU vice provost for Undergraduate Education, at the awards ceremony. “I was inspired to observe firsthand the knowledge, excitement, and passion all of the students brought to their projects.”

She told the students that “with your mentors, you are creating solutions to societal, technical, and many more types of problems, and you are generating vast amounts of new knowledge. The university, the state of Washington, our nation, and the world will benefit from your efforts. For that, you are all winners.”

Presenters bring success

Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost, thanked all participants, their mentors, judges, volunteers, and sponsors of the fifth annual poster event, which is open to students in all grades and majors on every campus in the WSU system. Sponsors included: Alturas Analytics, The Boeing Company, Decagon Devices, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

“It is the great numbers of people who believe in undergraduate research that make an event like SURCA possible, but it is the student researchers themselves who make it successful, and by all measures, SURCA 2016 was a great success,” said Sánchez Lanier. “At our top research university, we can be very proud of every participant and their tenacious pursuit of knowledge.”

Celebrating five years

SURCA 2016 marks the fifth year that students participating in mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities made public presentations on their work, and “it is this exchange of information that advances all fields of scholarship,” Sanchez Lanier said. The day of the event—March 28—marked the 126th anniversary of Washington State University as well. And 2016 is also the year that the Office of Undergraduate Research, which is part of WSU Undergraduate Education, celebrates its 10th anniversary. SURCA is traditionally the closing event for WSU Showcase Week.

SURCA 2016 awardees

By SURCA category, the 2016 awardees, mentors, and winning research topics (in alphabetical order) are:

Applied Sciences (4 awards to 4 students)

Crimson awards (2): Natalie Hurst, mentor Jennifer Zambriski, on “The Effect of Stanchion Housing on Behavior and Health Evaluation in Calves Experimentally Challenged with Cryptosporidium parvum;” and Jeremy Thompson, mentor Pete Jacoby, on “Saving Water: Deep Subsurface Drip Irrigation for Vineyard Applications”

Gray award (1): Holly Lane, mentor Douglas Collins, on “The Effects of Reduced Tillage on Soil Moisture, Temperature, and Light penetration in Organic Vegetable Systems”

Novice Researcher award (1): Jose Orenday-Ortiz, mentor Mei-Jun Zhu, on “Reducing Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli on Fuji Apple by Cinnamon Oil”

Arts and Design (3 awards to 8 students)

Crimson award (1): Said Alshidhani, mentor Genell Wells Ebbini, on “Optimum Ablution: A Design Response”

Gray awards (2): Sarah Vest, mentor Amy Meredith, on “Cleft Palate Film Production;” and six WSU Vancouver students including Megan Essman, Connor Goglin, Randy Luttrell, Matthew Lyons, Holly Stassens, and Amanda Wolcott, mentor Dene Grigar, on “T1VR”

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

Crimson award (1): Ryan Summers, mentor Zhiwu Zhang, on “Parallel Computing in Genome Wide Association Studies”

Engineering and Physical Sciences (8 awards to 8 students)

Crimson awards (2): Michael Kindle, mentor Min-Kyu Song, on “The Effect of a MnO2-Sulur Composite Cathode on Li-S Batteries for Use in Emerging Technologies;” and Olivia Ranft, mentor Jacqueline Burgher, on “Optimization of a Bench-Sized Biomass Gasification Reactor”

Gray awards (3): Lauren Celmer, mentor Shyam Sablani, on “Microencapsulation of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Rich Flax Seed Oil Using Pea Protein Isolate;” Sarah Kim, mentor Susan Dexheimer, on “X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy Studies of Structurally Tunable Electronic Materials;” and Daniel Mortensen, mentor Steven R. Saunders, on “NMR Investigation into the Influence of Phase Transfer Catalyst Aggregation on Brust-Schiffrin Nanoparticle Final Size”

Novice Researcher awards (2): Peter Baker, mentor Jeff Vervoort, on “The Geologic Evolution of the Ruby Range, SW Montana;” and Allison Osmanson, mentor Lei Li, on “Mass Production of Ibuprofen-Loaded Soy Protein Nanoparticles by Rapid Desolvation Technology”

Honorable Mention (1): Christopher Musa, mentor N.A. Wall, on “Effect of Iron and Silica on Glass Alteration”

Humanities (4 awards to 4 students)

Crimson awards (2): Alice Hiemstra, mentor Lydia Gerber, on “Beauty in Exemplary Women of Early China;” Lindsay Rodriquez, mentor Charles Weller, on “Reemergence of Poliomyelitis in Syria: The Impacts of War”

Gray awards (2): Holly Matteson, mentor Ashley Boyd, on “PROGRESS: A Social Justice Framework for Critical Literacy;” and Kevin Schilling, mentor Jennifer Thigpen, on “Pioneer Interpretations: Gendered, Religious, and Cultural Experiences of the American West”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology (14 awards to 14 students)

Crimson awards (4): Brittany Cole, mentor Michael Varnum, on “Ubiquitin-Proteasome System Impairment in Ethanol-Mediated Vision Loss;” Raven Conyers, mentor Jennifer Watts, on “The Effect of FUdR on Fatty Acid Composition in C. elegans;” Austyn Orvis, mentor Kwanhee Kim, on “Phthalate Plasticizers Inhibit Retinoic Acid Receptor Activity Mediated Through Peroxisome Proliferator Activated Receptor Alpha;” and Seth Schneider, mentor Anthony Nicola, on “Re-purposing an Anticancer Drug to Combat Herpes Simplex Virus Infection”

Gray awards (4): Julianna Brutman, mentor Jon Davis, on “Gut Brain Communication and Food Addictive Behavior;” Dustan Cwick, mentor Shantel A. Martinez, on “Understanding Seed Dormancy Breaking Methods in Pacific Northwest Wheat to Prevent Preharvest Sprouting;” Zachary Howard, mentor Alan Goodman, on “Vertical Transmission of Coxiella burnetii in Drosophila melanogaster;” and Forrest Shaffer, mentor James Peters, on “Ion Channel Profiling in Vagal Afferent Neurons”

Novice Researcher awards (2): Hannah French, mentor James K. Pru, on “The Role of PGRMC1/2 in Uterine Lipid Metabolism;” and Ciera Sitton, mentor Kwanhee Kim, on “Retinoic Acid Receptor Alpha in Male Germ Cells Causes Junction Instability in the Testis Tubule”

Early Career awards (2): Jake Lazar, mentor Ragupathi Nagarajan, on “Identification of Mechanisms Controlling Heat Tolerance in Wheat;” and Marina Martin, mentor Alan Goodman, on “Overexpression and Knockdown of Drosophila Stimulator of Interferon Genes (dSTING) Suggests a Conserved Immune Response to Bacterial Infection”

Honorable Mentions (2): Angela Rocchi, mentor Joseph Harding, on “Chronic Dihexa Treatment of Normal Rats creates Potential Treatment for Heart Failure;” and Halle Weimar, mentor Jun Xu, on “Elevated Testosterone Levels in Mice Deficient in the Chromatin Remodeling Enzyme Kdm5c”

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology (8 awards to 8 students)

Crimson awards (3): Bernice Klise, mentor Mark Smithson, on “Effects of Maternal Environment on Offspring Success of New Zealand Mud Snail;” Adrian Rus, mentor Todd Katzner, on “Role of Experience and Meterological Factors in Migratory Performance of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos);” and Sonja Werth, mentor Paul Verrell, on “Does Psychological Stress Predict Telomere Length in Wild Spotted Hyenas (Crocuta crocuta)?”

Gray awards (2): Chloe Erikson, mentor Brendan Walker, on “Maladaptive Behavioral Regulation in Alcohol Dependence: Role of Dynorphin/Kappa-opioid Receptor Neuroadaptations in the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis;” and Kayla Titialii, mentor Erica Crespi, on “A Role for Leptin in Mediating Blastema Formation and Growth in Xenopus laevis Limbs”

Novice Researcher award (1): Jeremy Hemmer, mentor Martin Maquivar, on “What Can We Learn from the Sexual Behavior in Cattle? Assessment of Sexual Behavior, Ovarian Physiology, and Fertility in Beef Cattle”

Honorable Mentions (2): Corydon Funk, mentor Melba Salazar-Gutierrez, on “Climate and Relation to grape quality;” and Heather Young, mentor Amber Adams-Progar, on “Behavioral and Physiological Responses to Hot Weather Conditions in Holstein Calves”

Social Sciences (9 awards to 10 students)

Crimson awards (5): Mary Boege, mentors Jenna Beaver and Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, on “Examining Omission Errors Made by Individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia When Completing Activities of Daily Living;” Ariana Garcia, mentor Kathleen Rodgers, on “The Relation of Music Videos to Sexual Consent Negotiation;” Antonio Martinez-Tlatenchi, mentor Niels Nielsen, on “Sleep for Science: The Effect of Age and Emotion on Selective Memory Consolidation During Sleep;” Kaylee Spangenberg, mentor Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe and Diane Cook, on “Development and Usability Testing of a Digital Memory Notebook;” and Mariah Sterner, mentor Bob Simmons, on “Factors for Long-Term Volunteer Participation in Environmental Stewardship Programs”

Gray awards (4): Haley Delgado and Sydney Wirkkala, mentors Paul Whitney and John Hinson, on “Beneficial Effects of Varying Mood States on Cognition;” Beau Edwards, mentors Paul Whitney and John Hinson, on “Detrimental Effects of Negative Moods on Cognition;” Haille Heid, mentor Mark VanDam, on “Semi-Automated Linguistic Transcription of Daylong Audio Files;” and Darian Sidebottom, mentor Christina Wilson, on “The Flexible Nature of Cognitive Control”