WSU Undergraduates Land 33 Research Awards at SURCA 2021 Presentation Event

More than a quarter of Washington State University students who delivered virtual presentations won monetary awards at the annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on March 29 in Pullman.

SURCA is the unique WSU-wide venue for students from all majors, years in college, and from all WSU campuses. Nearly 150 students from the Pullman, Vancouver, Spokane, and Global campuses delivered presentations detailing their research, scholarship, and creative activities conducted with a mentor.

Faculty, postdoctoral students, and community experts used a common rubric to judge and score all presentations in nine SURCA categories that are designed to cover all disciplines at the university. At the awards ceremony March 30, 52 students were announced as the recipients of 33 awards.

WSU tradition

“All students accepted to present at SURCA are eagerly engaged in high-impact, mentored research with their mentors, and are helping to reinforce WSU’s standing as a top-tier research institution,” said Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost. “The Office of Undergraduate Research is honored to host the SURCA event, a WSU tradition where students share their work with judges and the public.”

Based on scores, top presenters receive monetary awards for their efforts. For 2021, SURCA sponsors included alumnus Robert H. (’77 Engineering and Honors) and Mary L. Rieck, Coug parents from Richland, and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

SURCA 2021 award winners

Awardees are shown by SURCA categories in alphabetical order. The students, their mentors, and research topics are:

Applied Sciences

Crimson Awards (2):

  • Christina Webster, mentor Haluk Beyenal, on “The Cultivation of “Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus;”
  • Taylor Spooner, mentor Patricia Townsend, “Water Quality Monitoring in Snohomish County”

Arts and Design

Crimson Award (1):

  • Claire Babcock and Julie Waggoner, mentor Minyoung Cerruti, “Rooted Wellness: Palouse Health Center”

Gray Award (1):

  • Lucas Blevins, mentor Greg Yasinitsky, “A Moment in Time: Original Composition for Orchestra”

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences

Crimson Award (1):

  • Krista Brutman, mentor Bertrand Tanner, on “Computational Simulations of Drug Effects on Mouse Cardiac Muscle Contraction”

Engineering and Physical Sciences

Crimson Awards (2):

  • William Frantz, mentor Anita Vasavada, “Head and Neck Postures Under Working Conditions;”
  • India Dykes, mentors Arda Gozen and Bernard Van Wie, “3D Bioprinted Cartilage Scaffolds with Controllable Mechanical Properties”

Gray Awards (2):

  • Cheryl Lynn Aarnio, Arianna Marie Claveria, Sara McMorrow, Khrystine Raymond, David Ben Rodriguez, and Lydia Rose Weddle, mentor Lynne Cooper, “Improving Efficiency of an Industrial NOx Scrubber;”
  • David Chandler, Cedar Frost, Sophia Hamilton, Philip Kilian, Alexa Morales, and Elliot Ries, mentor Lynne Cooper, “3D Printing for Flight Exploration on Mars”

Novice Award (1):

  • Ellen Hilbun, mentor Sergey Lapin, “Modeling the Effects of Cardiac Arrhythmias”


Crimson Award (1):

  • Katya Farinsky, Jazz Jackson, Drew Swanson, and Andrew Thompson, mentor Dene Grigar, “Quest for Arete”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology

Crimson Awards (6):

  • Nate Savolainen, mentor Alan Goodman, “Host Genes CG34351, RhoGEF64C, and IP3K2 are Involved in Coxiella burnetii Infection;”
  • Madeleine Harvey, mentor Kanako Hayashi, “Characterization of Endometriosis-associated Pain Using a Mouse Model of Endometriosis:”
  • Sophie Mackinnon, mentor Alan Goodman, “Insulin-mediated Immunity During West Nile Virus Infection in Drosophila melanogaster and Culex quinquefasciatus;”
  • Olivia Hayden, mentors Alan Goodman and R. Marena Guzman, “dmSTING and Dredd Protect Against Coxiella burnetii Infection in Drosophila melanogaster;”
  • Caitlin Fitzpatrick, mentor Holly Neibergs, “Identification of Genes and Gene Networks Associated with Milk Protein in Dairy Cattle;”
  • Sean Thompson, mentor Ryan Driskell, “scATAC‑seq and scRNA‑seq Elucidate the Epigenetic and Transcriptional States of Regenerating Skin in Young Mice”

Gray Awards (1):

  • John Burkland, mentor Raymond Quock, “The Effect of Systemic TLR4 Inhibition on Spontaneous Opiate Withdrawal in the Mouse”

Novice Award (1):

  • Jesus Mendoza, mentor Douglas Call, “Mechanisms of Antibiotic Resistance in Flavobacterium psychrophilum

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology

Crimson Awards (2):

  • Riley Shultz, mentors Nicholas Naeger and Jennifer Han, “Effects of a Fungal Biopesticide on Honey Bees;”
  • Emma Kadyk, mentor Meijun Zhu, “Sanitizer Efficacies to Control Listeria monocytogenes in Simulated Dump Tank Water”

Novice Awards (1):

  • Megan Johnsen, mentor Rebecca Craft, “Ensure® Consumption vs. Noxious Stimulus-Evoked Behaviors as Measures of Pain in Female and Male Rats”

Research Proposal

Crimson Awards (3):

  • Linda Nguyen, mentor Erica Crespi, “Novel Institution Care for the Senior Population to Reduce Chronic Pain and Stress;”
  • Tanya Rivera, mentor Georgina Lynch, “Examining Cultural Differences in Healthcare Practices: Diagnosis in Autism and the Impact On Families;”
  • Max Melville and Abigail Rossi, mentor Ryan McLaughlin, “Does Sex or Quantity Matter? Investigating Sex Differences in the Long‑term Effects of Adolescent Cannabis Use on Cognitive Flexibility”

Gray Awards (3):

  • Justin Knutson, mentor Lee Daffin, “Information About IAT Reliability and Its Effect on Perceived Validity;”
  • Kyla Quale, mentor Erica Crespi, “Effect of Leptin on Wound Healing in Xenopus laevis in the Presence of Aeromonas hydrophil;”
  • Kelsey Dearing, mentor Amanda Boyd, “Helping Washington State University Faculty and Staff Support and Respond to Students in Distress”

Early Career Award (1):

  • April Salmeron-Lauriano, mentor Elizabeth Weybright, “Family Contributors in Adolescent Alcohol Use of LatinX Communities”

Social Sciences

Crimson Awards (2):

  • Olivia Davis, mentor Raven Weaver, “A Scoping Review: Educational Training for Healthcare Professionals About Sexual Health and Behavior in Later Life;”
  • Madison Benjamin, Linnaea Morris, and Portia Simmons, mentors Kathleen Boyce Rodgers and Cristina McAllister, “Love The Way You Talk: Parent-teen Closeness and The Mediation of Music Media”

Gray Awards (2):

  • Caitlin Ottaway, Amaya Pelagio, and Cheyenne Schneider, mentors John Hinson and Paul Whitney, “Sleep Loss and Risky Decision Making: An Integrative Review;”
  • Amina Ahnach, mentor Lee Daffin, “When Women of Color Express Strong Opinions via Email in Workplace Conflict: Perceptions & Attitudes”

Media contact: Mary Sanchez Lanier, WSU Assistant Vice Provost, 509-335-2329,