Meet with a Peer Mentor

These peer mentors are currently working on their own research projects, and are available to talk to you 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 a 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 ask you for your name, WSU email, and a few details about your academic and research interests. Once you book an appointment, a reminder about the meeting will be sent to the email you provided.

Please note: Mentors are not available during summer break, WSU breaks, WSU holidays, the week before final examinations, or the week of final exams. 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.)

About Our Peer Mentors

Gianna Bratcher

Honors College Student

Hometown: Reno, Nevada

Major: Biology

Minor: Spanish

Interesting fact: I love working out and going to the gym most days of the week. On top of that I love hiking and being outside whenever I can. I am also going on my second year of being a TA in the Chemistry department at WSU.

Research activities: I am currently working in the Cognitive Motor Neuroscience Lab (CogMo lab) which focuses on how the brain and cognition impacts motor movements. I have also previously worked in the Watts lab which focuses on how animals adjust their behaviors based of social and environmental changes. My project in that lab mostly focused on relationships in pine siskins (a species of finch) and how they communicate. This is then tied to other behaviors such as foraging and hormonal regulation of metabolism. I began working in the Watts lab in the spring of 2022, following my first semester in the Research Scholars program.
Jacob Buursma, undergraduate research peer mentor.

Jacob Buursma

Honors College Student

Hometown: Gig Harbor, Washington

Major: Neuroscience (Pre-medical)

Minor: Psychology

Interesting fact: In my free time, I enjoy early morning runs, going to the gym, reading philosophy, and keeping up with current events.

Research activities: Since August 2021, I have worked in a multidisciplinary Mouse-Cannabis Research Team with Dr. Delevich, Dr. Hayashi, and Dr. McLaughlin. As part of this team, I am involved in assessing the validity of a novel vapor delivery model for use in future preclinical cannabis research in mice. I have presented preliminary data for this project at SURCA (2022), and at the University of Washington Center for Cannabis Research conference. Additionally, under the guidance of Dr. Delevich, I proposed a novel research project aimed at investigating the effects of adolescent cannabis exposure on dendritic spines and microglia in corticostriatal brain circuits in mice. In May 2022, I was awarded an undergraduate fellowship grant from the WSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program (ADARP) to fund my project. In 2023, I received a nationally competitive Goldwater Scholarship to support my studies.

Stevie Fawcett

Honors College Student

Hometown: Bend, Oregon

Major: Microbiology and Spanish

Minor: Jazz studies and German

Interesting fact: I am a big dog person, and I have two dogs, a border collie/chihuahua mix and a whippet!

Research activities: I am a STARS research student at WSU, which means I’ve gone through quite a few research rotations. I’ve studied coronavirus tropism, hantavirus epidemiology, and West Nile virus immunology. Most recently, I also worked in an immunology lab at the University of Toronto designing T cells as a Fulbright Mitacs scholar. This year, I am developing a new cell line for the study and isolation of Sin Nombre virus in the Seifert lab. In 2023, I received a nationally competitive Goldwater Scholarship to support my studies.

HarleyJo Holman

Honors College Student

Hometown: Yelm, Washington

Major: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences

Minor: Geospatial Analysis

Interesting fact: I love anything fantasy! I enjoy wearing garb at renaissance fairs, playing DND with my friends, and RPG video games.

Research activities: Whilst earning an associate degree at South Puget Sound Community College, I took a three-quarter course series in Undergraduate Research fundamentals. As a part of this course, I developed, conducted, and presented my findings on how varying salinity levels impact the growth rate of Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Alongside my courses at SPSCC, I worked as a data management intern for the Olympia Forestry Sciences Laboratory. I worked beneath ecologist Robert Foster, and processed samples associated with the Long-Term Ecological Productivity Study on the Olympic National Forest. I sorted the components of dried leaf litter and calculated how leaf litter composition correlated to soil productivity. During summer 2022, I spent my vacation time volunteering as an undergraduate research assistant with the Joy Winuthayanon reproductive science laboratory. Within this role, I assisted with the mouse-vivarium, protein-assays, and various other lab tasks. In the fall of 2022, I took HONORS 398 and developed a research project based on assessing the long-term ecological suitability of the Southern Selkirk Mountain Region for the locally extinct population of Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). To do this, I will utilize GIS and Rangeshifter 2.0 software to determine the long-term (50+ years) outlook of a caribou population in the region based on varying levels of habitat availability, fragmentation, and connectivity. I was awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship for the 2023-2024 academic year in order to further pursue this project.

Matteya Proctor

Honors College Student

Hometown: Deary, Idaho

Major: Neuroscience and Psychology

Interesting fact: I love exploring new places, drinking coffee, and petting dogs – I also play on WSU’s club volleyball team! It’s a life goal of mine to have a home library with a rolling ladder.

Research activities: I have had the privilege of working on several research projects as a STARS student. I currently work in the Neuropsychology & Aging lab under Dr. Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, examining the potential moderating effect of cognitive beliefs on the relationship between general cognition and applied cognitive skills in older adult populations. This project sits at the intersection of gerontechnology, neuropsychology, and health communication/literacy research, and was developed for my honors thesis and participation in the NIH Training in Gerontology (or GSUR) program. Prior to this lab, I worked with the Affective & Cognitive Impacts on Decision-making lab and the Sleep & Performance Research Center. I examined how sleep deprivation impacts risk-taking and decision-making, and how individual factors like emotional reactivity impact the subjective experience of sleep deprivation.

Isabella Santiago

Hometown: Spokane Valley, Washington

Major: Human Development and Psychology

Interesting fact: I have never been on an airplane before! In my free time I like spending time with my loved ones, taking naps, going to the gym, and going for drives in my VW Beetle.

Research activities: In September 2022, I started working as a research assistant in the Early Learning Lab under Dr. Nicole Scalise in the Human Development department at WSU. Our lab studies variation in young children’s learning with an emphasis on mathematics. We study the processes of numerical development in young children, and how social interactions with peers, parents, and teachers impact math skills at present and at later points in development. We also look at the effects of playful learning interventions (e.g., card games, tablet games) on math interest and math achievement in early childhood as well as later outcomes. As a part of this lab, I have helped conduct a study examining how early memories of learning are related to current math attitudes and math achievement.
Being part of this lab has piqued my interest in the environmental influences on children’s motivation to learn math and, in turn, their math achievement outcomes. Specifically, I am interested in the types of classroom environments teachers establish which foster intrinsic motivation in students. This upcoming fall, I am launching my own study which studies the relationship between high school math classroom environments, student motivation, and mathematics achievement. My goal is to understand types of teaching styles and classrooms that foster motivation and achievement in older students and to adapt this information to encourage the development of motivational constructs and higher achievement in younger children.
Scott Stevison, undergraduate research peer mentor.

Scott Stevison

Honors College Student

Hometown: Vancouver, Washington

Major: Genetics and Cell Biology

Minor: Music

Interesting fact: I love to be active and enjoy playing sports such as soccer, basketball, and rock climbing.

Research activities: I currently work with Dr. Wyrick exploring the relationship between transcription factor binding and UV-induced DNA damage formation in the context of skin cancers such as melanoma. I am proudly connected to both the honors college and the STARS program here at WSU, which have helped me grow as a student and researcher alike since I stepped foot on campus.

Jasper Willson

Honors College Student

Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Majors: Multimedia Journalism

Minors: Political Science

Interesting fact: I live with a cat named Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme and I adore her. In my free time I like to go hiking and spend time with my roommates.

Research activities: At the beginning of 2023 I started working on a project for an honors thesis. I am making a documentary about the Coastal Redwoods and Giant Sequoias and their relationship with fire. I spent a semester researching these trees and how their relationship with fire has developed from pre-colonization to current times. Over the summer I traveled to the Redwood National Park and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks to gather footage. This involved taking lots of b-roll along with interviewing experts. Currently I am working on putting together the video, along with researching how visuals are important for environmental communication.