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Office of Undergraduate Research Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Meet with a Peer Mentor

Our peer mentors, who are currently working on their own research projects, have made themselves available to answer your questions about the research process. They have the experience and training to answer questions such as:

  • “How do I get started with my research?”
  • “Will I get paid to work on research, or am I eligible for a special scholarship?”
  • “How do I find a faculty mentor who will oversee and guide my work and training?”

How to Meet with a Peer Mentor

We use Microsoft Bookings to schedule in-person or virtual meetings between students and our peer mentors. After first selecting whether you want to have a 30-minute in person or virtual meeting (hosted on Microsoft Teams), you can then select a time based on our peer mentors’ availability. You can also optionally select the peer mentor you want to meet with. We then ask you for your name, email, and a few simple details about your academics and research interests. Once you book the appointment, a reminder about the meeting is sent to the email you provided.

Please note: Mentors are not available during Summer BreakWSU breaks, WSU holidays, Dead Weeks or Finals Weeks. Be sure to double check the WSU academic calendar to confirm these dates. (You will see that peer mentors’ availability on Microsoft Bookings should account for these breaks.)

Schedule a mentoring appointment on Microsoft Bookings

Meet Our Peer Mentors

  • Allison Jensen

    Hometown: Santa Clarita, California

    Major: Neuroscience
    Minor: Genetics and Cell Biology

    Interesting fact: I am ambidextrous, so I can do pretty much anything with both my left and right hands.

    Research activities: Before coming to WSU, I contributed to my local community college’s biodiversity initiative where I tracked native plant and animal behavior. Currently, I am involved in undergraduate research at WSU’s IPN department pertaining to how puberty influences the maturation of reward-related circuitry in the brain during adolescence using mice as a model organism. This will be achieved by comparing growth, food intake, and food-seeking behaviors in siblings who undergo puberty versus those in which puberty is surgically blocked. Project research will be presented at 2022 SURCA.

  • Anna McDonald

    Hometown: Lakewood, Washington

    Major: Biology and Data Analytics
    Minor: Computer Science and Mathematics

    Interesting fact: I have over 100 digits of pi memorized!

    Research activities: Here at WSU, I do research with the bears under Dr. Joanna Kelley. We are currently investigating the effects of hibernation on insulin sensitivity and resistance in brown bears to gain a better understanding of how their tissues maintain glucose homeostasis during hibernation. This past summer, I participated in the Bruins-In-Genomics (B.I.G.) Summer undergraduate research program at UCLA where I researched the differences in genetic diversity in the human gut microbiome between hosts with Westernized vs non-Westernized diets. I am also the Committee Chair for the WSU Undergraduate Research Club!

  • Christi Webster

    Hometown: Kalispell, Montana

    Major: Bioengineering

    Interesting fact: I have lived in five different states, all near national parks.

    Research activities: I have worked in Dr. Haluk Beyenal’s biofilm research lab since my freshman year, where I study the bacterium that causes citrus greening disease. I have presented my research in 2021 at WSU SURCA, earning a Crimson Award, and presented at the National Collegiate Honors College Conference in Fall 2021. I completed a DAAD RISE internship in Germany this summer, where I researched Fusarium (a fungus which infects wheat).

  • Megan Johnsen

    Hometown: Redmond, Washington

    Major: Biochemistry
    Minor: Spanish

    Interesting fact: In my free time I enjoy painting, cooking, visiting local coffee shops, and exploring the outdoors.

    Research activities: This past academic year I have enjoyed researching in Dr. Rebecca Craft’s psychopharmacology lab for my Honors Thesis. My project focuses on testing the validity of Ensure® liquid food consumption to measure pain in male and female Sprague-Dawley rats, in comparison to traditional pain-elicited measures, and observing any differences between sexes. I have received several undergraduate research grants to support my project, including an Undergraduate Fellowship from the WSU Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Program. I also attended SURCA in Spring 2021 where I was awarded a Novice Researcher Award.

  • Parker Johnson

    Hometown: West Richland, Washington

    Major: Genetics and Cell Biology
    Minor: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

    Interesting fact: I’m allergic to animal fur, so I keep plants and fish instead! I have 8 ribbon-petal flowers, a couple succulents, cilantro, and strawberries. I also have two snails named Chowder and Alamo, a plecostomus (suckerfish) named Pleccy, a frog named Stonewall, and cardinal tetras named Pathia.

    Research activities: I worked in Dr. Cynthia Haseltine’s lab on a project investigating the presence of R-loops (DNA-RNA hybrids that can form during DNA replication in Okazaki fragments and DNA transcription) in archaea. I developed a dot blot protocol that detected the presence of R-loops in archaeal DNA. I also worked in Dr. Joy Winuthayanon’s lab on a project characterizing the expression of alpha-tubulin, Ki67, OVGP1 (oviductal glycoprotein 1), PGR (progesterone receptor), and ER-alpha (estrogen receptor alpha) in the mouse oviduct (the region between the ovary and the uterus). I also worked on a project investigating the safety and efficacy of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) inhibitors as potential male contraceptives. I assisted with vaginal toxicity experiments for triazole B1 (a PSA inhibitor), which showed triazole B1 was less damaging to the mouse vagina than current contraceptives. I also helped develop a protocol that demonstrated the reversibility (or irreversibility) of various PSA inhibitors.

  • Rebecca Hsieh

    Hometown: Olympia, Washington

    Major: Bioengineering
    Minors: Computer Science, Mathematics

    Interesting fact: I have been playing the violin since I was in the 5th grade!

    Research activities: Before university, I was involved in a marine science research lab at The Evergreen State College studying how to link the phylogenetic and genomic diversity of ctenophores (comb jellies) to eco-physiological adaptations in the deep sea. For my first 2 years at WSU, I was a lab assistant within the Institute of Biological Chemistry investigating the physiological function of Arabidopsis enzymes and proteins through the examination of the Red Alder tree species. Last summer, I participated in a completely online Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Georgia (NanoBio REU) using molecular dynamics to study the interactions between proteins and DNA. Finally, this past year, I just completed an online research internship (U-Hack Med Gap Year) developing a tool to measure the spatial correlations of signaling distributions on the surface of cancer cells at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.

  • Scott Stevison

    Hometown: Vancouver, Washington

    Major: Genetics and Cell Biology
    Minor: Music

    Interesting fact: I love to play soccer, basketball, rock climb, and play the tuba!

    Research activities: Beginning in the summer of 2021, my project in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Watts involved further characterizing new modulators of ferroptosis using the DGLA ferroptosis assay, where I screened potential candidates using reverse genetics approaches. I also had the opportunity to be trained in performing gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to quantify the lipidomic profile of these potential ferroptosis modulators.

  • Sean Thompson

    Hometown: Woodinville, Washington

    Major: Genetics and Cell Biology

    Interesting fact: I have an identical twin.

    Research activities: I have studied skin development and regeneration with Dr. Ryan Driskell since freshman year. My research combines bioinformatics techniques, like single-cell sequencing assays, with “wet lab” techniques, such as tissue staining and microscopy, to understand processes involved in skin development and aging. My current work with Dr. Driskell focuses on understanding how epigenetics controls the regenerative potential of different cell types in mouse skin. In winter 2021 I performed bioinformatics research with Dr. Nate Law to study how epigenetics can influence gene expression during spermatogenesis, important in the context of male infertility. My research experiences have culminated in successful applications for undergraduate research scholarships, the nationally competitive Goldwater Scholarship, and a DAAD/RISE internship in Germany to study the improvement of bone grafts. Presenting my research projects is something I enjoy and has led me to present at local, regional, and national conferences over the last several years. In summer 2021, I was a co-author on a paper published in Cell; I am currently in the final stages of writing my first first-author paper.

  • Stella Cao

    Hometown: Redmond, Washington

    Major: Neuroscience, Pre-med

    Interesting fact: I have a one-year-old kitty who knows how to open locked doors!

    Research activities: Before college, I worked in Dr. Wang’s lab where I focused on the different pharmaceutical treatments for cervical cancers. Currently, I am conducting undergraduate research at WSU under Dr. Michael Varnum investigating the potential impact of cone photoreceptor Cyclic Nucleotide Gated (CNG) ion channel degradation on visual functions in both zebrafish and human. My abstract about this research was chosen to presented at SURCA 2021.

  • Stevie Fawcett

    Hometown: Bend, Oregon

    Major: Microbiology

    Interesting fact: I am also interested in foreign language and music! I play drums and piano and am studying Spanish and German.

    Research activities: I work in the Lab of Functional Viromics, and I have studied viral entry of coronaviruses, filoviruses, and hantaviruses. I am also part of the STARS program, which puts students on the fast track to a PhD. I plan to pursue a PhD in microbiology.

  • Tanya Rivera

    Hometown: East Wenatchee, Washington

    Major: Speech and Hearing Sciences

    Interesting fact: I love traveling, even if it is for just the day or a spontaneous 3-day trip you can count me in!

    Research activities: Over the past year I have gotten involved with research. I am a current second year in the McNairs Scholars Program and have started my own research project with Dr. Georgina Lynch at the WSU Spokane Campus. My research is titled “Examining Cultural Differences in Healthcare Practices: Diagnosis in Autism and the Impact On Hispanic Families.” We are currently looking at how providers can take different approaches while working with their clients of different backgrounds.

  • Zakora Moore

    Hometown: Tacoma, Washington

    Major: Bioengineering

    Interesting fact: I love music and have played the clarinet for six years.

    Research activities: Currently assisting in Dr. Bernard Van Wie’s lab on the Pullman campus; I also have past research experience within the civil engineering field as well. I am super excited to be a guiding hand for those interested in undergraduate research! Go Cougs!