MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost, 509-335-2321, sanchez@wsu.edu.

Beverly Makhani, director of communications and marketing, WSU Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement, 509-432-3430, makhani@wsu.edu.

PULLMAN, Wash.–The Office of Undergraduate Research at Washington State University has named 32 students as recipients of nearly $50,000 in awards in support of their mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities for the 2020-21 academic year, Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost said.

Students received 10 Auvil Scholars Fellowship awards, three Scott and Linda Carson Undergraduate Research awards, four WSU LSAMP Research awards, and 15 general undergraduate research awards. All are students at Pullman with around 20 majors across STEM and non-STEM fields. Awardees include five sophomores, 13 juniors, and 14 seniors; 18 females and 14 males; and, nine first-generation students. Thirteen recipients are members of the WSU Honors College.

“This is the largest number of students receiving awards in many years,” said Mary Sanchez Lanier, WSU assistant vice provost. Her responsibilities include oversight of the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA) in the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

“In addition to money available from long-established Auvil and Carson undergraduate research award accounts and the NSF-funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), we have received additional support this year from an anonymous donor. This made it possible for us to help support the efforts of many additional student researchers.”

Supporting Research During COVID-19 Challenges

Sanchez said that students who applied for awards are especially motivated because they know that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely alter may aspects of their research pursuits.

“I’ve heard from their faculty mentors that even though they can’t meet in person, or do work in labs that they normally would, the students are still enthusiastic and committed to their projects,” said Sanchez. “They stay in touch using online video conferencing tools and talk about data and anticipated results in new ways. Undergraduate researchers are resilient and using their critical thinking to solve problems during this challenging period.”

Awards Support Financial Success

She said that applying for and receiving any of these awards helps to lesson students’ financial burdens and allows them to better focus on their studies and research pursuits.

“Undergraduate research is a win-win for all involved,” said Sanchez. “Research is proven to have a high impact on students’ overall academic education, plus the work they do with their faculty mentors helps to confirm existing, and create new, knowledge in a specific field, something that is fundamental to the process of research. In doing so, these exceptional students also help to advance WSU’s standing as a leading research university.”

Carson Fellows for 2019-20

The Scott and Linda Carson Undergraduate Research Endowed Excellence Fund, established in 2013, helps researchers as they progress in their careers. The Carson’s, WSU alumni, have supported the university with their service and numerous financial gifts over many years. These newest awards bring the total number of Carson Fellows to 14, since the first in 2014-15. The Carson award gives preference to student researchers who are in their junior and senior years. The news awardees are:

  • Jessica Erickson, a junior materials science major in the Honors College mentored by John McCloy;
  • Annie Lu, a senior mathematics major mentored by Nikolaos Voulgarakas
  • Talia Thuet, a junior neuroscience major in the Honors College mentored by David Rossi

Auvil Fellows for 2020-21

The Auvil Scholars Fellowship began in 2006 with a gift from the estates of Grady and Lillie Auvil, Wenatchee tree-fruit entrepreneurs. Auvil awards are available to undergraduate researchers from all majors, in all grades, from any WSU campus. Nearly 250 WSU undergraduates have received this award over the years; they are known as Auvil Fellows. The new recipients are:

  • Lucas Blevins, a sophomore music composition major mentored by Gregory Yasinitsky
  • Christopher Huong, a senior psychology and sports science major mentored by Sarah Ullrich-French
  • Tabitha McCoard, a senior fine arts major mentored by Hallie Meredith
  • Danica Miller, a senior architectural studies major in the Honors College mentored by Julia Day
  • Nicholas Ozanich, a junior bioengineering major mentored by David Lin
  • Amanda Richards, a junior neuroscience major mentored by Ryan McLaughlin
  • Georgie Rosales, a senior English and psychology major in the Honors College mentored by Rebecca Craft
  • Adam Szymanski, a junior business and computer science major mentored by Andrew O’Fallon
  • Muhammad Hanzalah Wan Rosli, a senior chemical engineering major mentored by Chuhua Jia
  • Olivia Willis, a junior neuroscience and psychology major in the Honors College mentored by Cheryl Reed

LSAMP Research Fellow Awards for 2020-21

LSAMP is an NSF-funded program that supports the academic achievements of underrepresented minority students in STEM majors, helps members reach personal and professional goals, and offers programming in the areas of professional development, networking, and community-building. The program also offers awards for top students pursuing mentored research. The new awardees are:

  • Jesús Mendoza, a senior zoology major mentored by Douglas Call
  • Zakora Moore, a junior civil engineering major mentored by Julia Day
  • Marcelo Ruiz, a senior mathematics and mechanical engineering major mentored by Jacob Leachman
  • Kalli Stephens, a sophomore microbiology major mentored by Wipawee Winuthayanon

Undergraduate Research Fellow Awards for 2020-21

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Undergraduate Research Development Fund, the office can make awards to a wide variety of students pursuing research. These general awards from the Office of Undergraduate Research have supported students across the university for a number of years. Recipients of these awards in 2020-21 include:

  • Krista Brutman, a senior mathematics major in the Honors College mentored by Bertrand Tanner
  • Owen Canterbury, a senior biochemistry major in the Honors College mentored by Michael Varnum
  • William Franz, a junior bioengineering major mentored by Anita Vasavada
  • Benjamin Hollenberg, a sophomore microbiology major in the Honors College mentored by Alan Goodman
  • Kyle Hulse, a junior zoology major mentored by Wesley Dowd
  • Brianna Knode, a senior chemistry and genetics and cell biology major in the Honors College mentored by John Wyrick
  • Sophie Mackinnon, a senior microbiology major in the Honors College mentored by Alan Goodman
  • Anna McDonald, a sophomore biology major mentored by Joanna Kelley
  • Max Melville, a sophomore neuroscience major mentored by Ryan McLaughlin
  • Maria Pham, a junior bioengineering major mentored by Haluk Beyenal
  • Kyla Quale, a junior zoology major in the Honors College mentored by Erica Crespi
  • Jasdeep Singh, a senior materials science and mechanical engineering major mentored by Santosh Swain
  • Sean Thompson, a junior genetics and cell biology major in the Honors College mentored by Ryan Driskell
  • Lam Tran, a senior chemical engineering major mentored by Hongfei Lin
  • Christina Webster, a junior bioengineering major in the Honors College mentored by Haluk Beyenal

All of those receiving awards from the Office of Undergraduate Research will be required to present results of their work at the tenth annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) in March 2021. SURCA features nine research categories, and awards go to top presenters in each. Sanchez said that if SURCA has to be online instead of in person because of pandemic restrictions in spring, she is confident the student researchers and their mentors will meet that challenge. Visit the SURCA website for more details.