WSU undergraduates land 44 awards at SURCA 2018 on April 2

Wide angle group photo of all award winners at SURCA 2018

Of the 256 Washington State University students accepted to present 213 posters at the seventh annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) event April 2, 54 took home 44 awards for their top presentations across eight categories.

At this WSU-wide venue for students from all majors, there were 20 winners of 17 $300 crimson awards, the highest possible; 27 winners of 20 $200 gray awards, the second-highest; 6 winners of 6 $100 novice awards, for students with up to two semesters of research work and who show exceptional promise; and, 1 recipient of 1 $100 early career award, given to freshmen and sophomores only.

“The mentored research, scholarship, and creative activity presented by the students this year was, notably, of the highest caliber—perhaps the best we’ve ever seen at a SURCA event,” said Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost. “We congratulate every award winner. Every presenter did a great job of creating a descriptive poster and explaining to judges and guests the details of their research.”

“Each presentation evidences the ‘new knowledge’ brought to one’s field and also reflects the personal and professional growth of every student participant,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “SURCA showcases the considerable contributions that our students make to WSU’s ‘Drive to 25’ effort to be among the top research institutions, and to provide a transformative educational experience to hundreds of students.”

Social Sciences has most awards plus winners

The Social Sciences category tied Engineering and Physical Sciences for capturing the most awards, with 9 each; but Social Sciences ultimately led the pack by having 13 winning students, one more than Engineering and Physical Sciences’ 12.

The Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology category had 8 awards and 8 winners. Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology had 7 awards and 7 winners. Applied Sciences as well as the Humanities categories both had 4 awards and 4 winners. Arts and Design had 2 awards and 5 winners. And, Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences had 1 award and 1 winner.

The number of awards possible in each category is determined by the number of presenters in that category each year.
All presenters were evaluated by at least three judges, made up of faculty, staff, post-docs, and guest experts. More than 175 volunteers reviewed posters and listened to presentations, and assigned scores according to a rubric.

Sponsors of SURCA 2018 awards

Thanks to support from generous donors, nearly $10,000 was awarded to SURCA winners. Donors in 2018 include: Alturas Analytics; The Boeing Co.; alumnus Robert H. (’77 Engineering and Honors) and Mary L. Rieck, Cougar parents from Richland; The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) program; and, the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

“We are deeply grateful for their continuing investment in our students,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of WSU Undergraduate Education. “All have sponsored SURCA awards in one or more previous years.”
At least two other programs at WSU will soon present their own awards to SURCA winners and/or presenters: The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and the WSU Emeritus Society.

SURCA 2018 winners

By SURCA category, in alpha order, the 2018 awardees, mentors, and research topics are:

Applied Sciences

Crimson Award (1): Jessica Hartman, mentor Arron Carter, on “Remote Sensing to Predict Wheat Agronomic Characteristics”

Gray Awards (2): Rachel Wittenberg, mentor Kathy Beerman, “The Effect of Food Preparation Methods on the Release of Iron from the Lucky Iron Fish® and Subsequent Iron Enrichment of Foods”; Ashley Wright, mentor Hang Liu, “The Influence of Enzymes on the Dissolution of Recycled Waste Cotton”

Novice Award (1): Lucy Eggleston, mentor Dave Crowder, “Interaction of Bumble Bee Communities on Small Farms”

Arts and Design

Crimson Award (1): Shelby Ruiz, mentor Judy Theodorson, “Giardini Scolpiti”

Gray Award (1): WSU Vancouver co-presenters Katie Bowen, Mariah Gwin, Vanessa Rhodes, and Veronica Whitney, mentors Dene Grigar and Nicholas Schiller, “Rebooting Electronic Literature: The Challenges of Creating an Open-Source Multimedia Tool for Data Collection and Dissemination”

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Systems

Crimson Award (1): WSU Vancouver’s Robby Boney, mentor Allison Coffin, “Is Hair Cell Regeneration Linked to Evolutionarily Changes within Protein Sequences?”

Engineering and Physical Sciences

Crimson Awards (3): Michael Anderson, mentor Brian Collins, “Effect of Electron Donor Position in Bilayer OSCs”; Seth McPherson, mentor Kelvin Lynn, “Production Strategies for Tailored Source Material Used in High Efficiency Solar Cells”; Deshka Neill, mentor Ming Xian, “Chemiluminescent 1,2-Dioxetane Probes for the Detection of Hydrogen Polysulfides”

Gray Awards (4): Stephen Bone, mentor Alla Kostyukova, “Engineering Glucose Oxidase for Efficient Ni-NTA Purification”; Kenny Haak, mentor Jeffrey McMahon, “Ground State Structures of Water-Ammonia Mixtures at High Pressures”; WSU Tri-Cities’ Catie Himes, mentors Elsa Silva-Lopez, Allan Felsot, and Nelmi Devarie, “Development of an Analytical Method to Validate Pesticide Detection Limits in Saliva”; co-presenters Mohammed Alzawad, Kaycee Faber, Raquel Murillo, and Sarah Schroeder, mentor Nehal Abu-Lail, “Biofilm Growth of Multidrug-Resistant Escherichia coli during Exposure to Natural Antibiotics”

Novice Awards (2): Alexa Antalan, mentors Jinwen Zhang, Junna Xin, and Ran Li, “Preliminary Investigation of Waste Cooking Oil-Based Bio-asphalt and Reinforcement with Lignin-Based Epoxy”; and Yoni Rodriguez, mentor Von Walden, “Development of an Air Quality Sensor for Use in Teaching Introductory Environmental Engineering”


Crimson Awards (2): Blessing Adaramola, mentor Olusola Adesope, “What are the Impacts of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on Financial Performance of a Corporation Based on Its Size”; Jazmine Ike-Lopez, mentor Trevor Bond, “Digital Archiving of Tribal Histories at Washington State University”

Gray Awards (2): Krista Brutman, mentor Lydia Gerber, “Left-Over Women: Collectivist Feminism in Modern China”; Garrett Snedeker, mentor Jeffrey Savage, “Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935): Brazilian Composer, Musician, and Catalyst for Social Change”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology

Crimson Awards (3): Grace Carrell, mentor Alan Goodman, “Drosophila melanogaster are Used to Identify Novel Components of the Innate Immune Response to West Nile Virus”; Thinh Kieu, mentor Bertrand Tanner, “Omecamtiv Mecarbil: A Potential Therapeutic Agent for Heart Failure”; Lindsey Morey, mentor Michael Varnum, “Disruption of Cone Photoreceptor Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channels in Zebrafish Using CRISPR/Cas9 Genome Editing”

Gray Awards (4): Pierce Claassen, mentors Amanda Brinkworth and Rey Carabeo, “Monitoring Gene-Expression Dynamics of tarP During Chlamydial Development using Fast Fluorescent Timer”; Bailey Frankovich, mentor Joseph Harding, “The Use of a Subcutaneous Injection of NDX-1001 to Reverse Scopolamine-Induced Amnesia in Rats”; Zachary Howard, mentor Anders Omsland, “ Progesterone Inhibits Replication of Coxiella burnetii in Nutrient Broth and During Infection of Cultured Cells”; Ryder Matanane, mentors Dmitri Tolkatchev and Alla Kostyukova, “Comparing Efficiency of Two Methods of Site-Directed Mutagenesis”

Novice Award (1): Jillian Nordness, mentor Meijun Zhu, “Thermal Inactivation and Survival of Listeria monocytogenes in Milk Powder and Surrogate Suitability of Listeria innocua and Lactobacillus plantarum”

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology

Crimson Awards (3): Madison Armstrong, mentor Mark Dybdahl, “The Evolution of Plastic Expression as an Explanation of Invasion Success”; Joseph Hall, mentor David Lin, “Comparison of Bipedal Hopping Strategies of Kangaroo Rats on Solid Versus Granular Terrain”; Collin Warrick, mentor Ryan McLaughlin, “Effects of Prenatal Cannabis Vapor Exposure on Cognitive Flexibility”

Gray Awards (3): Gerardo Herrera Birrueta, mentor Wipawee Winuthayanon, “Estrogen Action in the Epithelial Cell of the Mouse Vagina Regulates Neutrophil Infiltration and Vaginal Tissue Integrity”; Cassidy Peru, mentor Chandra Jack, “The Modification of a Ministat to Measure Ammonia Production in Response to Altered Carbon Concentrations in Azotobacter Populations”; Claire Popke, mentor Raymond Evans, “What’s in the Soil-Invasive Earthworms and Their Effect on Soil Organic Matter Beneath Indigenous and Non-Native Grasses”

Novice Award (1): Kayla Beechinor, mentor Michael Pumphrey, “Development of Fine Mapping Populations for Cloning Yield Contributing Genes in Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)”

Social Sciences

Crimson Awards (3): Emily Fogarty, mentor J. Shannon Neibergs, “The Economic Effectiveness of Livestock Risk Protection”; Lysandra Perez, mentor Monica Johnson, “Latino/a College Student’s Transition Experiences: Collectivism to an Individualistic Culture”; co-presenters Jules Mugisha, Carla Salle, Brittany Srp, and Jamie Adams, mentor Matthew Bumpus and Eleanor Dizon, “Parent-Student Conversations in Response to a Student Conduct Violation”

Gray Awards (4): Justin Frow, mentor Robert Fellows, “The Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on University Students”; Nam Nguyen, mentor Chad Gotch, “Development of a Survey to Investigate Study Abroad Destination Choice”; Christina Strauch, mentor Walter Scott, “Development of a New Self-Schema Measure: Examining Construct Validity and Reliability”; co-presenters Nhu Huynh and Sewit Kidane, mentor Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, “Night Out Task”

Novice Award (1): Veronica Garcia, mentor Anne Cox, “Examining Mindfulness and Body Image in the Context of Yoga”

Early Career Award (1): William Millick, mentor Lydia Gerber, “Considering Women in the Great Leap Forward”

For more information on SURCA 2018, visit  For a list of winners’ names by category, visit

MEDIA: Shelley Pressley, director, WSU Office of Undergraduate Research, part of WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-1252,

Beverly Makhani, director, Communications and Marketing, WSU Undergraduate Education,