WSU SURCA poster event leads to 16 awards for Honors College undergraduate researchers

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University Honors College students won 16 awards for presentations on their research, scholarship, and creative activities at the sixth annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on March 27.

Honors was well represented among the nearly 225 students who presented posters detailing their faculty-mentored work, said Honors Dean M. Grant Norton.

“Just the preparation required to present at such a large event is beneficial to all participants,” he said. “Winning recognition plus a monetary award adds some to the overall experience.”

A total of 54 awards were given to SURCA’s top presenters across eight categories covering disciplines across the university. The highest SURCA award is the crimson award; 5 of the 21 winners of 20 crimson awards are from Honors. Second highest is the gray award; 7 of 23 winners of 19 gray awards are from Honors. Early career awards are given to freshmen and sophomores only; 2 of the 5 recipients winning 5 early career awards are from Honors. And novice awards are given to students who worked “up to two semesters on their research and showed exceptional promise;” 2 of the 12 recipients of 10 novice awards are from Honors.

SURCA as a WSU-wide, transformational event

Mary Sanchez Lanier, assistant vice provost, described SURCA as the only WSU-wide venue to offer all undergraduates in all majors from all campuses the opportunity to share their mentored research and results.

“Every SURCA student participant learned something new through their research as well as contributed knowledge to their field,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “They also demonstrated considerable effort and had the confidence to deliver a high-quality SURCA presentation to their peers and the public.

“We are inspired by each and every one of those students, and proud that SURCA goes a great distance every year to advance research and help WSU deliver transformational educational experiences to undergraduates in every way.”

Award donors

“Thanks to support from generous supporters, the total amount presented to the award recipients at SURCA 2017 came to $11,300,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, event host and a unit of WSU Undergraduate Education.

Sponsors for the sixth annual event include: Alturas Analytics, Inc., The Boeing Co., Meter Group (of which the former Decagon Devices is now part), Richland alumnus Robert H. (’77 Engineering and Honors) and Mary L. Rieck, the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, and the WSU Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President.

The awards spanned all eight categories of SURCA, which are designed to encompass the type of research, scholarship, and creative activities—collectively referred to as research—that might be conducted in every major in all disciplines at WSU. The number of awards possible in each category is determined by the number of presenters in that category that year.

SURCA 2017 awardees from the WSU Honors College

By SURCA category in alphabetical order, the 2017 awardees, mentors, and winning research topics are:

Applied Sciences

Gray award:
Brennan Hyden, mentor Amit Dhingra, “Effects of Potential Chemical Germination Stimulants on Legume and Grass Cultivars.”

Arts and Design

Novice award:
Philip VanDevanter, mentor Kathleen Ryan, on “Sauk-Suiattle Cultural Center: Co-Designing a Meaningful Place.”

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Sciences

Crimson award:
Ryan Summers, mentor Zhiwu Zhang, on “Parallel Computing for Genome Wide Association Studies.” This is the second year Summers won this award in this category. This year, Summers’ award was the only award in this category.

Engineering and Physical Sciences

Gray awards:
Sinclair Wilson (plus two co-researchers), mentor Nehal Abu-Lail, “Design of an Effective Biochar-sand Water Filtration System for Rural Countries;”
Matthew Waldrip, mentor Brian Collins, on “Time Delayed Collection Field Experiments for Organic Solar Cells.”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology

Crimson award:
Shi Min Tan, mentor Rita Fuchs Lokensgard, on “Endocannabinoid Mechanism of Cocaine Memory Reconsolidation.”

Gray award:
Sierra Bishop, mentor Cliff Berkman, on “Extracellular Vesicle Biomimetics: A New Means of Tissue Specific Drug Delivery.”

Novice Researcher award:
Marie Andresen, mentor Michael Court, on “Pharmacogenomics of Propofol Metabolism by Cytochrome P450 Enzymes in Dogs.”

Early Career award:
Ryan McLaughlin, mentor Anthony Nicola, on “Effect of Bovine Serum Concentration in Growth Medium on Herpes Simplex Virus Titers.”

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology

Crimson award:
Chloe Erikson, mentor Brendan Walker, on “Alcohol Dependence is Associated with Altered Oprk-1 Gene Expression in the Bed Nucleus of the Stria Terminalis and Kappa-opioid Receptor-mediated Escalation of Alcohol Self-administration.”
Ashley Huynh

Gray awards:
Madison Armstrong, mentor Mark Dybdahl, on “Phenotypic Plasticity as an Explanation of Invasive Success;”
Angela Rocchi, mentor Joseph Harding, on “The Effect of Chronic Dihexa Exposure in a Healthy Rat Model.”

Social Sciences

Crimson awards:
Mia Ryckman, mentor Carrie Cuttler, on “Don’t Call Me Delusional: The Effect of Noun Labels on Stigmatizing Attitudes and Perceptions of People with Mental Disorders;”
Sara Van Natta, mentor Janessa Graves, on “Suicide Prevention Education: Policies for Health Care Professionals Across the United States.”
Zachery Schramm

Gray award:
Halle Schulz, mentor Janessa Graves, on “Concepts and Perspectives of Health and Housing Among Homeless and Low Income Adults in Spokane: A Photovoice Project.”
Claire Thornton

Early Career award:
Heather Heidenreich, mentor Lydia Gerber, on “Maternal Models in Early China.”


Visit website to read the full abstracts describing the research of all presenters in the eight categories.

MEDIA: Shelley Pressley, Director, Office of Undergraduate Research in WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-1252,