WSU SURCA poster event leads to 54 awards to 61 undergraduate researchers

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

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

PULLMAN, Wash.—Of Washington State University’s 225 students presenting 205 posters at the sixth annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on March 27, 61 received a total of 54 awards for their exceptional presentations.

Group photo of SURCA 2017 award winnersThere were 21 winners of 20 crimson awards, the highest; 23 winners of 19 gray awards, the second-highest; 12 recipients of 10 novice awards, for students who worked up to two semesters on their research and who show exceptional promise; and, 5 recipients of 5 early career awards, given to freshmen and sophomores only. One student won two awards.

Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost, described SURCA as the only WSU-wide venue to offer all undergraduates in all majors from all campuses the opportunity to share their mentored research and results.

“Every SURCA student participant learned something new through their research as well as contributed knowledge to their field,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “They also demonstrated considerable effort and had the confidence to deliver a high-quality SURCA presentation to their peers and the public.

“We are inspired by each and every one of those students, and proud that SURCA goes a great distance every year to advance research and help WSU deliver transformational educational experiences to undergraduates in every way.”

Donors for awards

“Thanks to support from generous supporters, the total amount presented to the award recipients at SURCA 2017 came to $11,300,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, event host and a unit of WSU Undergraduate Education.

Sponsors for the sixth annual event include: Alturas Analytics, Inc., The Boeing Co., Meter Group (of which the former Decagon Devices is now part), Richland alumnus Robert H. (’77 Engineering and Honors) and Mary L. Rieck, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

The awards spanned all eight categories of SURCA, which are designed to encompass the type of research, scholarship, and creative activities—collectively referred to as research—that might be conducted in every major in all disciplines at WSU. The number of awards possible in each category is determined by the number of presenters in that category that year.

SURCA 2017 awardees

By SURCA category, the 2017 awardees, mentors, and winning research topics are:

Applied Sciences (6 awards to 6 students)

Crimson awards (2): Aaron Appleby, mentor John Reganold, on “Efficacy and Economic Viability of Organic Herbicides in a Young, High-Density Apple Orchard;” and Megan Miller, mentor Catherine Daniels, on “Developing High-Quality, Low-Cost Online Training Materials for Adult Learners.”

Gray awards (2): Alexander Haase, mentor Travis Alexander, on “Analyzing Dry Matter Content as a Selective Metric for Cider Apples;” and Brennan Hyden, mentor Amit Dhingra, “Effects of Potential Chemical Germination Stimulants on Legume and Grass Cultivars.”

Novice Researcher award (1): Kimberly Cirillo, mentor Amber Adams Progar, on “Evaluation of Wild Bird Species Populations on Washington Dairy Farms.”

Early Career award (1): Jessica Hartman, mentor Megan Lewien, on “Drought Stress: Improving Wheat for the Future.”

Arts and Design (6 awards to 11 students)

Crimson awards (2): Jake Kargl, mentor Scott Blasco, on “Tempting Time;” and Kirill Polyanskiy, mentor Scott Blasco, on “Subharmonics on the Acoustic Violin.”

Gray awards (2): Hamidreza Esmaeillou, Quinton Lum, Victoria Page, and James Reyes, mentor Kathleen Ryan, on “Co-Design of a Bus Shelter: Reviving Community;” and Maria Tatum, mentor Kathleen Ryan, on “Rural Revival: The Spirit of a Small Washington Community.”

Novice awards (2): Philip VanDevanter, mentor Kathleen Ryan, on “Sauk-Suiattle Cultural Center: Co-Designing a Meaningful Place;” and Melanie Laws, Shelby Ruiz, and Kelli Young, mentor Kathleen Ryan, on “Design to Experience.”

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

Crimson award (1): Ryan Summers, mentor Zhiwu Zhang, on “Parallel Computing for Genome Wide Association Studies.” This is the second year Summers won this award in this category.

Engineering and Physical Sciences (8 awards to 10 students)

Crimson awards (2): Chia-Ling Kang, mentor Nehal Abu-Lail, on “The Effect of Starvation on Bacterial Survivability in Sand and Evolution of Biofilms: Macro-Scale Study;” Madison Newberry, mentor Mia Kiamco, on “Electrical Conductive Hydrogel Coating for Electrochemical Scaffold.”

Gray awards (4): Bryan Heer, mentor Amit Bandyopadhyay, on “Novel 3D Printing of Metal Composite Aerospace Structures;” Travis Holloway, mentor Paul Benny, on “Asymmetirc [2+1+1] M(CO)2 (M = Re, 99mTc) Fluorescent Radiopharmaceuticals;” Chia-Ling Kang, Brian Miller, Sinclair Wilson, mentor Nehal Abu-Lail, on “Design of an Effective Biochar-sand Water Filtration System for Rural Countries;” and Matthew Waldrip, mentor Brian Collins, on “Time Delayed Collection Field Experiments for Organic Solar Cells.”

Novice Researcher award (1): Austin Blake, mentor Arda Gozen, on “Drop on Demand Inkjet Printed Electronics Using Graphene Based Inks.”

Early Career award (1): Dylan Blair, mentor Arda Gozen, on “3D Printed Composites with Shape Memory Behavior.”

Humanities (3 awards to 3 students)

Crimson award (1): James Whitbread, mentor Shiv Karunakaran, on “Use of Neurocognitive Measures to Evaluate Cognitive Load During the Mathematical Proving Process.”

Gray award (1): Sydney Robertson, mentor Ashley Boyd, on “Young Adult Historical Fiction and Social Studies Textbooks: An Integrative Approach.”

Novice Researcher award (1): Casey McNicholas, mentor Lydia Gerber, on “Peking, the Boxers, and the Multinational Response.”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology (8 awards to 8 students)

Crimson awards (3): Samantha Beck, mentor Shantel Martinez, on “Identification of a Locus Corresponding to the Enhanced Response to Abscisic Acid, ERA8, Gene of Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.);” Brendon Myers, mentor Daniel Lunn, “Co-Expression of Castor LPCAT with Castor DGAT2 Leads to a Reduction of Hydroxy-Fatty Acid Accumulation in Arabidopsis Seeds;” Shi Min Tan, mentor Rita Fuchs Lokensgard, on “Endocannabinoid Mechanism of Cocaine Memory Reconsolidation.”

Gray awards (3): Sierra Bishop, mentor Cliff Berkman, on “Extracellular Vesicle Biomimetics: A New Means of Tissue Specific Drug Delivery;” Lindsey Morey, mentor Michael Varnum, on “ Disruption of Cone Photoreceptor Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channels in Zebrafish Using CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing;” Collin Warrick, mentor Ryan McLaughlin, on “Role of Endogenous Cannabinoid Signaling in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex in Cognitive Flexibility.”

Novice Researcher award (1): Marie Andresen, mentor Michael Court, on “Pharmacogenomics of Propofol Metabolism by Cytochrome P450 Enzymes in Dogs.”

Early Career award (1): Ryan McLaughlin, mentor Anthony Nicola, on “Effect of Bovine Serum Concentration in Growth Medium on Herpes Simplex Virus Titers.”

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology (10 awards to 11 students)

Crimson awards (4): Chloe Erikson, mentor Brendan Walker, on “Alcohol Dependence Is Associated with Altered Oprk1 Gene Expression in the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis and Kappa-opioid Receptor-mediated Escalation of Alcohol Self-administration;” Kenny Haak and Ryan Meech, mentors Alla Kostyukova and Dmitri Tolkatchev, on “Engineering of a Stable Myosin Neck Fragment for Understanding of the Energy Consumption in Resting Muscle;” Ashley Hunyh, mentor Omar Cornejo, on “Characterizing the Oral Microbiome of East Africans in Association with Their Dental Health Status;” David Navarro, mentor Lisa Shipley, on “Determining Deer Behavior Patterns from Different Accelerometer Settings.”

Gray awards (3): Madison Armstrong, mentor Mark Dybdahl, on “Phenotypic Plasticity as an Explanation of Invasive Success;” Carlie Knox, mentor Rebecca Craft, on “Sex Differences in Opioid-Cannabinoid Interactions on Chronic Inflammatory Pain;” Angela Rocchi, mentor Joseph Harding, on “The Effect of Chronic Dihexa Exposure in a Healthy Rat Model.”

Novice Researcher award (2): Angeliqua Montoya, mentor Stephanie Porter, on “Natural Variation for the Presence or Absence of a Symbiosis Island in a Mesorhizobia Population;” and Connor Osterlund, mentor Ryan Boylan, on “Buffer Impact on Macro-Invertebrates.”

Early Career award (1): Abigail Cate, mentor David Crowder, on “Can Farming Save Wild Bee Species?”

Social Sciences (12 awards to 12 students)

Crimson awards (5): Ana Barnes, mentor Jesse Spohnholz, on “A Marriage of Cultures: The Gradual Process of Cultural Integration in a German Immigrant Community;” Rebecca Podszus, mentor Lee Daffin, on “Nature Relatedness as a Facilitator to Utilizing the Natural World as a Coping Strategy to Reduce Stress;” Mia Ryckman, mentor Carrie Cuttler, on “Don’t Call Me Delusional: The Effect of Noun Labels on Stigmatizing Attitudes and Perceptions of People with Mental Disorders;” Zachery Schramm, mentor Melissa Goodman-Elgar, on “Familial Factors Contributing to the Behavioral Expression of Male Homosexuality;” Sara Van Natta, mentor Janessa Graves, on “Suicide Prevention Education: Policies for Health Care Professionals Across the United States.”

Gray awards (4): Kelsey Dammeyer, mentor Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, on “Aiding Everyday Activities with Prompting Technology: A Qualitative Analysis of Dementia Participants’ Experiences;” Aria Petrucci, mentor Carrie Cuttler, on “Stretch Your Mind: An Examination of the Effects of Yoga on Executive Functioning;” Halle Schulz, mentor Janessa Graves, on “Concepts and Perspectives of Health and Housing Among Homeless and Low Income Adults in Spokane: A Photovoice Project;” Claire Thornton, mentor Lydia Gerber, on “The GI Bill at WSC: An Understanding Through Oral Histories.”

Novice Researcher awards (2): Davin Fladager-McCullough, mentor Lydia Gerber, on “China in Africa: African Perspectives (2015);” Kaelin Hamel-Rieken, mentor Sonia Hall, on “Visualizing the Columbia River Basin: Where’d the Water Go?.”

Early Career award (1): Heather Heidenreich, mentor Lydia Gerber, on “Maternal Models in Early China.”