Congratulations to SMB undergraduates Nicole Clark, Jessica Hawkinson, Bryce Henderson, Jack Hyder, Abigail Smith and Alexander Wulf who were presented awards at SUCRA!

April 2, 2014

CONTACT: Shelley Pressley, Director, Undergraduate Research Programs, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-1252,

Mary Sanchez Lanier, Assistant Vice Provost, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-7769,

Beverly Makhani, Director, Communications, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,

WSU Names 45 Undergraduates Top Researchers at SURCA Annual Competition

PULLMAN, Wash—Thirty-nine awards were presented to 45 Washington State University students at the third annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2014 on the afternoon of March 28.

The work of 192 students WSU-wide was detailed in 11 oral and 145 poster presentations open to faculty, staff, students, and guests. More than 100 judges evaluated the presentations. The judges included WSU emeriti faculty and retirees, faculty, staff, and post-doctoral students as well as experts from companies outside of WSU.

While many students from urban campuses traveled to attend SURCA, SURCA was made available to two place-bound students thanks to web conferencing provided by the Global Campus. A Pullman student studying abroad in Mexico and a WSU Vancouver student who was unable to attend SURCA in person talked “live” to their judges who were standing in the senior ballroom of the Compton Union Building.

SURCA awards were made in eight different categories, and the number of awards in each is partially determined by the number of students competing in it. The highest award possible is the crimson award; second highest is the gray award. Fourteen crimson and 14 gray awards were presented. Novice awards are restricted to students who have worked up to two semesters on their project and were judged to show “exceptional promise;” eight novice awards were presented.

“I think everyone who competed, judged, and visited SURCA this year had a great time and learned a lot from our hard-working students,” says Shelley Pressley, director of the undergraduate research program, part of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education. “They represent the future of our state, the nation, and the world.”

“As is usually the case, not every student can win an award, but certainly every student who participated in SURCA 2014 is a winner from our perspective,” says Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost who oversees undergraduate research. “Just working on some pretty fantastic projects with a mentor and then applying and being accepted to share knowledge at SURCA are resume- and vita-building accomplishments on their own.”

Pressley and Sanchez Lanier thank The Boeing Company and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for funding the awards. Awards made in all science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) categories were “Boeing Awards.”

And the awardees are…

SURCA 2014 awardees made poster presentations unless noted.  For project descriptions, use the “abstract number” by each person’s name and look it up in the online abstract book at  By SURCA category in alpha order, the awardees are:

Applied Science

Crimson award: John Kuhn, agricultural biotechnology major, for “Effect of the Gpc-B1 Allele on Grain Protein Concentration in Hard Red Winter Wheat (Tritcum aestivum L.) in the Pacific Northwest of the US;” mentor Arron Carter; abstract #109

Novice award: Nicholas Rivera, food science major, for “Occurrence of Mycotoxins in Light vs. Dark Peanut Kernels;” mentor Dojin Ryu; abstract #60

Arts and Design

Crimson award: Brittany Wouden, Angela Morrelli, Mychael Jones, and Stephen Palermini (member Amalia Vacca did not present), digital technology and culture majors at WSU Vancouver, for “Pop-Up Gallery: Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet,” mentor John Barber; abstract #132

Crimson award: Lucas Vannice, landscape architecture, for “Cultivating a Grass Garden through Texture, Color, and Form;” mentors Rick Knowles and Caroline Pearson-Mims; abstract #134

Gray award: Adam Denny, digital technology and culture major at WSU Vancouver, for “AudioBash;” mentor John Barber; abstract #143

Gray award: Amalia Vacca, digital technology and culture major at WSU Vancouver, for “Interface Design and Usability Testing for iSci: Interactive Technologies for Science Immersion;” mentor Dene Grigar; abstract #72

Gray awardKy Christiansen, interior design major, for “Design Perspectives of Shared vs. Displayed Culture;” mentors Kathleen Ryan and Phil Gruen; abstract #135

Novice award: Anne Borges, interior design major, for “A Library for the Future;” mentor Kathleen Ryan; abstract #141

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences

Crimson award: Joseph Traverso, mechanical engineering major, for “The Effect of External Radiation on DNA-Enzyme Complexes;” mentor Nikolaos Voulgarakis; abstract #128

Engineering and Physical Sciences

Crimson award: Lindsey Elhart and David Finkel, finance major and chemical engineering major respectively, both in the WSU Honors College, for “Improving Aircraft Safety with an Airfoil Airspeed Sensor;” mentor Howard Davis; abstract #119

Crimson award: Molly Wakeling, physics major and in the WSU Honors College, for “Charge States of Th-229m: Path to Finding the Half-Life;” mentors Jason T. Burke, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and WSU’s Steven Tomsovic; abstract #29

Crimson award: Ellis Hughes, Steven Monda, and Victor Small, bioengineering majors, for “Accounting for Subject Size and Posture Affects the Predictions of Biomechanical Models;” mentor Anita Vasavada; abstract #97

Gray award: Gunnar Hoff, chemical engineering major, for “Fabrication of Unmediated, Compressed Bioanodes to Utilize the Oxidation of Glucose Towards the Creation of an Enzymatic Biofuel Cell;” mentor Su Ha; abstract #92

Gray award: Abigail Smith, biochemistry major, for “Mechanical Analysis of Cartilage Tissue Grown with Biochemical and Mechanical Stimuli in a Continuous Centrifugal Bioreactor;” mentor Bernard Vanwie; abstract #20

Novice award: Hanne Raine, mechanical engineering major, for “Determining the Mass Flow Rate of Solid Argon;” mentor Jacob Leachman; abstract #87

Novice award: Joseph Olsen, bioengineering major, for “Increasing the Power Output of the Cdte Solar Cell via a Novel Luminescent Down-Shifting Molecule: Synthesis, Photophysical Studies and Application;” mentor Wen-Ji Dong; abstract #55


Crimson award: Marcela Rodriguez, English major, for oral presentation “The Marked Narrative: A Rhetorical Analysis of Immigrant Narratives and their Sociopolitical Implications;” mentor Victor Villanueva; abstract #202

Gray award: Hilary Sandberg, strategic communications/P.R. major, for “Opium in Protestant Missionary Communications: A Study of Protestant Missionary Communications on the Opium Issue to their Western Audiences, 1817-1907; mentor Lydia Gerber; abstract #90

Novice award: Zoe Freese, general physical sciences major, for oral presentation “The Historical Analysis of Medieval Textiles and Tapestries;” mentor Theresa Jordan; abstract #203

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology

Crimson award: Nicole Clark, biochemistry major, for “Disruption of Non-Classical Progesterone Signaling in the Uterus Leads to Progression Toward Endometrial Cancer;” mentor James Pru; abstract #113

Crimson award: Jessica Hawkinson, genetics and cell biology major and in the WSU Honors College, for “The Potential Role of Deamidation of Asparagine 155 within Neural Tropomodulin2;” mentor Alla Kostyukova; abstract #5

Crimson award: Bryce Henderson, biochemistry major and in the WSU Honors College, for “Elucidating the Fusogenic Efficacy of Nipah Virus Fusion Proteins and Mutant Derivatives;” mentor Hector Aguilar; abstract #15

Crimson award: Thomas Sexton, biology/botany major and in the WSU Honors College, for “The in Vivo Temperature Response of Rubisco Kinetics in Oryza Sativa;” mentor Asaph Cousins; abstract #18

Gray award: Jack Hyder, biochemistry major, for “Exosome Detection Using a Modified Synaptotagmin-1 Derived Peptide;” mentor Jonel Saludes; abstract #86

Novice award: Kelsey Moss, animal science major, for “Polymelia in Holstein Cattle;” mentor Holly Neibergs; abstract #52

Novice award: Alexander Wulf, biochemistry major, for “Exploiting a Yeast Surface Display System for the Identification of Novel Malarial Inhibitors;” mentor Margaret Black; abstract #78

Novice award: Bryan Killinger, chemical engineering major, for “Binding Site and Regulation Mechanism of Bacterial Flagellum Polymerization through the Binding of FlgM and FliS;” mentor Alla Kostyukova; abstract #67

Novice award: Emily Sawyer, psychology major, for “The Effect of CNO on Rat Happiness;” mentor Lane Brown, abstract #9

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology

Crimson award: Janelle Badger, wildlife ecology major, for “The Effect of Previous Herbivory and Virus on Aphid Fitness;” mentor David Crowder; abstract #118

Crimson award: Kelly Hewitt, neuroscience major, for “Sex Does Not Influence the Effectiveness of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs at Reducing Pain;” mentor Rebecca Craft; abstract #24

Gray award: Lindsey Ballsmider, neuroscience major, for “Vertical Gastric Cleeve Surgery in Lean Rats Implicates Plastic Changes in Feeding Centers of the Hindbrain while Effects of Fat Accumulation May Play a Smaller Role;” mentor Krzysztof Czaja; abstract #57

Gray award: Vanessa Rose, environmental science major, for “The Interactive Effects of Phosphorus and Planktonic Grazers on Harmful Algal Blooms in Vancouver Lake, Washington;” mentors Steve Bollens and Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens; abstract #75

Novice award: Josh Gefre, field crop management major, for “Breeding Amaranth;” mentor Kevin Murphy; abstract #65

Social Sciences

Crimson award: Shanee Wimberly, psychology major, for oral presentation “Relationship between Leadership and Resiliency and the Moderating Effect of Proactive Personality: Implications on Disadvantaged Populations;” mentor John Kalu Osiri; abstract #211

Crimson award: Michelle Taylor, anthropology major, for “Multiple Attachments Amongst the Ngandu of the CAR;” mentor Courtney Meehan; abstract #111

Gray award: Amy Holbrook, international business major and in the WSU Honors College, for oral presentation “What Effect Does Wine Closure Type Have on Perceptions of Wine’s Appearance, Bouquet, Taste, and Overall Quality? An Empirical Investigation;” mentor Dennis Reynolds; abstract #204

Gray award: Emily Kassebaum, history major, for oral presentation “Americans Adopting from China: Adoption Experience and the Perception of China;” mentor Lydia Gerber; abstract #205

Gray award: Jasmyn Bolar, entrepreneurship major, for oral presentation “Investigating the Optimal Choice Load for Online Stores;” mentor John Kalu Osiri; abstract #210

Novice award: Amanda Thomson, sociology major, for “The Effect of Perceived Sexual Orientation on Workplace Evaluation;” mentor Julie Kmec; abstract #4

Regional Companies Send Judges to SURCA 2014

SURCA 2014 thanks these companies for their support by sending representatives to serve as judges:

  • Acrosstown Traffic
  • Alturas Analytics
  • Clearwater Paper Corporation
  • Decagon Devices
  • Rocky Mountain Research Station
  • Strata Incorporated
  • SumTech Business Solutions