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Courage, Shenanigans, & Sports Reporting: Honors Eckman Fund Supports AP Writer’s Remarks at 2024 Murrow Symposium

Courage, Shenanigans, & Sports Reporting: Honors Eckman Fund Supports AP Writer’s Remarks at 2024 Murrow Symposium

By Phyllis Shier, WSU Honors College,

San Francisco Associated Press (AP) sportswriter and honors alumna Janie McCauley (’98) delivered keynote remarks at the April 2024 Murrow Symposium’s closing luncheon. The event was sponsored by the Honors College Art Eckman Fund, which supports honors sports broadcasting majors with enrichment opportunities and was open to the university community.

In her remarks, McCauley addressed reporting on controversial and dangerous topics and the courage it demands of both the journalists and the subjects of these stories. She cited examples that speak to heroic courage, like that of her colleague Anja Niedringhaus, a German photojournalist who was killed in Afghanistan in 2014 covering an election. Janie worked with Niedringhaus at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Her Murrow symposium remarks were delivered on the tenth anniversary of Niedringhaus’s death.

McCauley also covered the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic games, which included the first men’s volleyball team from Iran. Conducting background prior to the games, she became aware of women in Teran who were fighting for the right to attend, since Iranian women were not allowed in stadiums. In telling their stories McCauley couldn’t use their names or else they would be in danger, she said.

“I’m still in touch with some of these courageous women in Iran to this day who risked their lives, in some situations, to fight for what they believe in,” she said. Janie made it her quest to find an Iranian woman in the Rio stands at the volleyball match. With assistance from the crowd, she finally found an Iranian expatriate living in Brazil who told her “I’m here for everybody back home who can’t be.”

“That was one of the more powerful stories I’ve done in my career, telling (the story) through the eyes of that woman…,” McCauley said.

That story encouraged Janie to seek out other tough assignments including an abuse scandal surrounding an Olympic rowing coach she knew and a story about the “forgotten population” of San Quentin inmates who benefited from playing tennis with a group she’s a part of, among others.  Tennis helps San Quentin Prison inmates find community | TenniStory (

For McCauley the “call” to sports journalism came early. As a child growing up in Washington state, she anticipated her family’s annual trek across the mountains from Leavenworth to attend a Sonics game in Seattle. Those early interactions energized her passion for sports and fueled her tenacity. Allowed one hour after the game to explore the Sonics stadium, Janie engaged in what she called “shenanigans.” Like sneaking into the visiting Detroit Piston’s family room by pretending to be the niece of rival player Bill Laimbeer. Or standing on a toilet seat in the arena bathroom to hide until everyone left so she could meet players, coaches, and their family members. Once she snuck under a dumpster to meet players as they prepared to get on the bus. “I think it probably gave me some skills for how to be resourceful,” she joked.

At thirteen, Janie wrote to NBA teams across the country with hopes they’d respond. Many did—replying with letters that included bumper stickers and signed photos of team players like David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs. Those interactions impressed on her the importance of writing, so in high school she got a job with her local newspaper, The Leavenworth Echo. As a WSU student she reported for the AP, writing quotes and short articles for newspapers across Washington and Idaho.

McCauley joined honors in her sophomore year, describing it as “a safe space to try new things out.” Minoring in Spanish, she spent her senior fall semester in Guadalajara, Mexico, conducting honors thesis research on the dangers journalists face in unsafe countries, foreshadowing a career to come.

But it was those early interactions with NBA teams and the treks across the mountains for Sonics shenanigans that instilled the confidence to pursue sports writing. Over her career she’s run into some of her early heroes and when she does, she thanks them.

“It was special—it influenced what I’m doing now,” she said.

This summer McCauley will cover swimming at her sixth Olympics in Paris.

“Thirty years in and I’m still having fun,” she told Murrow Symposium participants. “It’s been the joy of my life.”

The Honors College Art Eckman Fund, established by Cougar football team member and honors business administration alumnus Colin White (’03), was created in memory of renowned sports broadcaster and former Cougar Art Eckman (’64), who passed away in 2023. The Fund was first awarded in 2022, sponsoring a “Women in Sports” guest lectureship. White, who volunteered as a student web developer for Cable 8 Productions, was inspired to give back because of the financial support he received to attend WSU.

“Looking back now and being lucky enough to be in the financial position that I am in, I want to be able to provide that same sense of financial relief for other Cougs,” White told the WSU Foundation. Alumni and industry partners across the WSU community are encouraged to support the endowment.

Honors Nurses Present in Salt Lake City

Honors Nurses Present in Salt Lake City

Six Honors College students in the College of Nursing presented their research at the 2024 Western Institute of Nursing Conference in Salt Lake City. The presentations covered a range of healthcare topics:

Carolyn Stone* and Ekatrina Burduli Mental health and Birth Satisfaction of Perinatal Individuals During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Rosie Kirker*, Sheila Hurst, Britanny Bannon, Carolyn Stone, Dena Carr, Sharon Stadelman Sleep Distrubance and Challenges Faced by People Experiencing Houselessness

Destiny Stanek Bolles*, Janessa Graves, Sheila Hurst, Shawna Beese: The Relationship Between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) among All of us Respondents.

Macy Johnston*, Janessa Graves, Sheila Hurst, Shawna Beese: Exploring Access to Outdoor Physical Activity and Stress in NIH All of Us Research Program

Amelia Kohut*, Janessa Graves, Sheila Hurst, Shawna Beese: The Relationship Between Food Insecurity and Perceived Stress

Bianca Gerghe*, Janessa Graves, Sheila Hurst, Shawna Beese: Mental Health Service Utilization Among Pregnant Women in NIH All of US Research Program

Angela Crable, Jenifer Brewer, Molly Parker, Tara Marko, Natasha Barrow, Amelia Kohut, Sheila Hurst, Julie Postma: Assessing Nursing Curriculum Using the Planetary Health Report Card

Sheila Hurst, Brittany Bannon Dena Carr, Sharon Stadelman, Charis Williams, Carolyn Stone, Grace Borchert, Morgan Erickson, Marian Wilson: Sleep Assessment Among Houseless Individuals

Student Highlight – Zoe Logan


Student Highlight: Zoe Logan

By Sophia Flippin, Honors Student Intern,

Meet Honors student Zoe Logan, a graduating senior. Originally from Rocklin, California, Zoe came to WSU to major in animal science with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. She is especially interested in treating exotic animals in a general practice setting or specializing in cardiac or neurosurgery.

Zoe has prioritized pursuing veterinary experiences outside of the classroom while at WSU. She serves as both vice president and facility manager of the WSU Raptor Club. The student-led group cares for 10 non-releasable birds of prey by feeding, watering, and monitoring them for sickness. Zoe often worked with Sprite, an owl who recently passed away. She routinely socialized Sprite by spending time with him at the Stauber Raptor Facility while he stood on a falconry glove. Providing enrichment opportunities for the birds has been the group’s recent focus. In addition to caring for the birds Zoe and other club members participated in donation walks throughout the year to collect funds and items for a silent auction, an event held each April. Auction proceeds go toward caring for the birds.

The Honors College curriculum also provided Zoe with the opportunity to become involved in veterinary research, something she hadn’t initially considered. Working with animal science professor Marcos Marcondes and graduate student Valerie Achziger, she helps study the use of the dietary supplement zeolite to decrease the microbial population’s rate of methane production within a cow’s rumen. The team uses an artificial fermenting rumen in a laboratory setting to feed zeolite to the microbes and to measure resulting methane levels. Zoe earned the Fries Research Grant for her work and presented her overall study and research results at the recent Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities.

Zoe believes that the variety of classes built into the Honors curriculum and the high-caliber professors she’s learned from along the way have broadened her knowledge and skills in ways that helped her get accepted into veterinary school. Dr. Robin Bond’s Honors 380 course on Greek literature and culture stands out to her. Learning how to read and write some classical Greek and class discussions about Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey were especially captivating, she said.

When asked what advice she would give to underclassmen, Zoe attests to the importance of establishing a positive routine and healthy habits that balance schoolwork with other responsibilities.

“Starting college is an adjustment at first, so it’s important to note what study strategies or routines work best for you. Either way, it gets easier, and it is important to not get too overwhelmed,” she said.

After graduating this spring, Zoe will be heading to the island of Grenada in the Caribbean to further her veterinary studies at St. George’s University.

Honors College undergraduate researchers land top awards at Showcase

Honors College undergraduate researchers land top awards at Showcase

Fifty-three students participated in the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2024 on March 25th, 2024 as part of a week-long series of events honoring the accomplishments of students, faculty, and staff.

Held since 2012, SURCA is the only WSU-wide venue for students systemwide in every major and year in college to share their mentored research.

Honors College students winning either Crimson or Gray awards are listed below by major, mentor, and project title.

Abstracts and additional information about each SURCA presenter for all the presenters is available online.

Applied Sciences

Jacob Buursma
Mentor: Kristen Delevich

“Long-term Effects of Adolescent Cannabis Vapor Exposure on Corticostriatal Circuits Responsible for Decision Making”

Arts and Design

Jasper Willson
Multimedia Journalism
Mentor: Lisa Waananen Jones

“Forest on Fire: A Documentary About the Changing Relationship of Fire in the Sequoia Ecosystems”

Engineering and Physical Sciences

Dylan Suina
Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Jeffrey Bell

“Modifying 3D Printed Carbon-infused Thermoplastics for Applications in Potentiometry”

Suzanne Gelston
Chemical Engineering
Mentor: Dilara Ozdemir

“In Vitro Activity of HOCl Generating Scaled-up Electrochemical Bandages”

Connor Reschke
Materials Science and Engineering, Spanish
Mentor: Hui Li

“Recycling Wood Waste with Particleboard and Pelleting”


Matthew Bunge
Economic Sciences
Mentor: Shawna Herzog

“Britain’s Financial Revolution and Class Exploitation, 1689 – 1740”

Molecular, Cellular, and Chemical Biology

Ally Richards
Mentor: Sean McGuire

“Investigating the Role of Protein-protein Interaction of GPAT9 in Arabidopsis thaliana

Lauren Benjamin and Hailey Landsparger
Mentor: Emily Qualls-Creekmore

“Identification of Neural Circuits That Participate in Stress Habituation”

Stevie Fawcett
Microbiology, Spanish
Mentor: Stephanie Seifert

“In vitro Tool Development for the Study of Hantaviruses”

Eva Rickard
Data Analytics
Mentor: Sascha Duttke

“Decoding Gene Regulatory Networks Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia”

Jasmin Chu
Mentor: Kristen Delevich

“Microglial Ablation Effects on Adolescent Behavioral Flexibility”

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology

Molly Greiner
Mentor: Hanna Delgado

“Characterizing symbiotic rhizobia isolated from native Trifolium”

HarleyJo Holman
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Sciences
Mentors: Lisa Shipley, Leah Brueggeman

“Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) Habitat in the South Selkirks: Zonal Shifts in Dynamic Landscapes”

Braeden Stiffler
Mentor: Janice Parks

“How Pea-canola Intercropping (Peaola) Changes Soil Inorganic Nitrogen Content”

Social Sciences

Matteya Proctor
Neuroscience, Psychology
Mentor: Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe

“The Moderating Effect of Cognitive Self-Efficacy on the Relation Between Cognition and Technology-Based Health Information Search in Middle-Aged and Older Adults”

Ten Years in the Making: Transgenerational Epigenetic Study Leads to Journal Co-Publications for Honors Undergraduate and Alumna

Ten Years in the Making: Transgenerational Epigenetic Study Leads to Journal Co-Publications for Honors Undergraduate and Alumna

By Phyllis Shier, WSU Honors College,

A ten-year study in WSU’s Skinner Laboratory provided bookend undergraduate research experiences for two Honors College students, one recently, at the study’s culmination, and one at its inception.

Sarah De Santos knew WSU might be right for her when she was invited to join its National Institutes of Health program Motivating Innovation and Research Achievement (MIRA). MIRA offers unparalleled undergraduate research opportunities for Honors College students from underrepresented groups majoring in biomedical science and engineering fields. A Genetics and Cell Biology major in the pre-medicine track, Sarah dreamed of becoming a pediatrician since she was five. But, as college approached, she began to dream even bigger. “I wanted to find a way to be a little more proactive and thought, ‘maybe I’ll involve myself in research,’” she said.

MIRA offers financial support for up to four years of tuition and an initial summer bridge program. It introduces students to lab rotations and summer research opportunities and provides the opportunity to attend a national scientific meeting. While the two labs she toured initially weren’t in her area of interest (i.e., genetics or epigenetics), De Santos reached out to WSU Eastlick Distinguished Professor of Biological Science, Michael Skinner by e-mail. Skinner is the founding director of the Center for Reproductive Biology.

“He replied very quickly,” she said. She visited the Skinner Laboratory a few days later. “After that meeting, he basically said ‘Just send me your resume and consider yourself a part of our lab.’”

Wrapping up a decade of research

Now a sophomore, Sarah’s undergraduate research in the Skinner Lab led to her first co-authored research publication in the latest issue of

Environmental Epigenetics. The paper, Multiple generation distinct toxicant exposures induce epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of enhanced pathology and obesity, chronicles the ten-year study that culminated a year and a half into her lab experience. The study examined three

Sarah De Santos (left) and Eastlick Distinguished Professor Michael Skinner standing in front of De Santos’s research poster in Abelson Hall. Click/Tap to enlarge the photo. 

successive generations of gestating year-old female rodents, strategically injecting them with environmental pesticides and jet fuel during fetal sex determination, followed by three generations with no exposure. The final “F5” generation determined the transgenerational phenotype for pathology and disease using “Deep Learning” artificial intelligence-based histopathology analysis. Results showed “compounded disease impacts in obesity and metabolic parameters,” while other pathologies increased only minimally, leveling out by the transgenerational F5 generation.

“While there was a slight increase with other diseases, like kidney disease, ovarian disease, different cysts, obesity was the one disease that you could basically track a substantial increase in as the generations progressed,” De Santos said. The study is novel in its transgenerational approach. “We bred them out pretty far and we saw how, not the first or second generation after exposure, but their descendants in subsequent generations showed an increase in obesity and epigenetic markers for that,” she said.

Sarah worked with first co-author, Eric Nilsson on histology and pathology. “Eric really helped me understand not only how to do certain tasks within the lab but also the reasoning behind them,” she said. She took tissue cuts of reproductive organs, preserving them in various rinses so slides could be created, and worked with the Deep Learning AI analysis program checking for abnormalities detected and correcting for variables identified that weren’t necessary for the study. “I was learning while helping it learn as well,” Sarah said. Even with the learning curve she noted great benefit in using the AI. “Using the Deep Learning system, we were able to speed up our analysis process; instead of it taking weeks or months, it only took one or two weeks.” She also helped with slide quality control, looking for cut off specimens or out of focus images, and helped with statistical data generation.

“For a first experience I thought it was pretty incredible that I was able to tag along at the tail end of this project and learn all about what we were doing and assist significantly,” she said. “I was very happy about that.”

De Santos credits Professor Skinner for having an impact on her overall journey as a student. “Coming into college I was very focused on just the MD track…nothing else mattered,” she said. Having previously shadowed doctors, she’d seen the clinical side of medicine. Discussions with Professor Skinner helped her realize how conducting research would allow her to help pediatric patients both in “…identifying problems and potentially designing solutions as well,” she said.

“That helped me get a better understanding of what Dr. Skinner calls preventative medicine… instead of, as a physician, just reacting to a problem, we identify the problem and are already researching solutions for it,” she said.

Outside her interests in science and medicine, Sarah loves learning in general—something that’s supported in her honors education. She took a poetry course with Honors College Professor Colin Criss and discovered an interest in poetry. She joined Palouse Review, the WSU Honors College biannual arts and academics journal and was surprised to find a strong science contingent within the group.

“Honors gives you the opportunity to kind of branch out a bit—maybe do something you’re not really comfortable with or used to, but, once you kind of take a chance, it’s really rewarding,” she said. “With science, you’re focusing on facts and data…it’s still creative but a different sort of creativity from poetry, so I appreciated that,” she said.

An honors English course with Professor Bryan Fry expanded her knowledge on literary and historical research.

“That was a very interesting class for me because whenever I hear research, I think scientific paper… and here’s this professor my freshman year saying ‘let’s go into the archives; let’s go to maps; let’s delve into these different first-person and second-person accounts… His class was very much about research but literary research and historical research.” Sarah’s project focused on early discrimination and exclusionary laws towards Asians, specifically Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean immigrants. The project was of specific interest to her as her father and grandmother immigrated to San Francisco in the 1970’s from Manilla. While the Chinese Exclusionary Act was no longer in place, that change only occurred three decades earlier. “So, it was very interesting to see that contrast of my experience and my parent’s experience versus the experience of those who had to deal with such laws before they were finally done away with,” she said.

De Santos is quick to confirm how much she values the access her Honors College and MIRA experiences have provided her.

“Before getting into the Honors College and the MIRA program… I was very much considering just going to a local college, dealing with that, because I knew medical school was going to be extremely expensive,” she said. “Being able to come to WSU, especially since I’m one of the few people in my extended family who’s actually been able to go to college—was very, very rewarding; I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”

 The study from the start: An alumna’s perspective

 “It’s been a minute,” WSU Honors College alumna Margaux McBirney said with a laugh, about her role as Environmental Epigenetics second co-author in the 10-year transgenerational epigenetics study in the Skinner Lab. “I think I started in his lab the first week of college, so right from the beginning!” she said.

Margaux began by exposing test subjects to environmental toxicants, but also learned the research background of the project she’d be participating in. This differed significantly from a traditional lab experience, McBirney said, where students may be inserted into the process without fully understanding the scope of the project.

“I really appreciated that model because it helped you start to develop this understanding of the basis of our experiment… and then you could start to contextualize. It provided this foundation to build upon.”

Skinner (kneeling, in hat) and Margaux McBirney (blue tee) front row, last on right.

So, when Professor Skinner encouraged her to continue during the summer, she stayed, even though it deviated from her summer plans. “For context, during the school year I would be in the lab about 10 hours a week my first year; over the summer I was in the lab basically full time, so I think that’s really where things progressed.”

McBirney started working on histopathology analysis of tissues, helped to dissect animals, and helped to gear up for the paper on one of the biggest studies in the lab to-date. “It was absolutely worth doing it because…your rate of learning was so much higher,” she said.

One drawback of a long study meant significant data wouldn’t be available in time for her honors thesis, so Professor Skinner assigned Margaux to another study on the epigenetic effects of atrazine.

“That’s what was so amazing about Dr. Skinner and the Honors College is that they just worked in tandem so well,” she said. The atrazine study “paired beautifully,” with the timing of her thesis project. “Dr. Skinner and I reworked the plan to have me be more involved in that study and that ended with…another co-author publication and using that for my honors thesis.”

Margaux’s experience also included a summer in France via a connection the Skinner lab had there. She took an intensive French course onsite which helped with her honors language requirement. “That was a really fortunate opportunity as well—to go do that,” she said. An avid cycler, she got to see the Tour de France and do some cycling of her own.

McBirney progressed in the lab’s ten-year study to working with senior lab scientists on molecular techniques. “It was really an incredible experience where you got a whole lifecycle of these experiments; so often undergrads get a summer in a lab or a half a year… it was really amazing to have three and a half years of progressive experience,” she said.

“Ultimately, that’s really what got me my first job out of college, too, because that’s not so common,” she added.

McBirney’s first job at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute in Seattle eventually transitioned into a lab management role. “I applied to a lot of jobs there,” she said of her start at the Hutch. “I think what really stood out to their HR recruiters was the depth of my experience and specifically this niche area, which is working with animals in research settings.”

McBirney is currently Lab Operations Manager at Talus Bio, a cancer therapeutics company in Seattle.

Positioning students for success

The Skinner Lab has mentored honors and traditional students for more than twenty years.

“Mike is a super advisor,” said Honors College Dean M. Grant Norton. “Over the years he has mentored fifteen or more honors students, integrating them into his research projects in ways that often lead to undergraduate research publications and even career opportunities; students are grateful for those opportunities and real-world connections,” Norton added.

Training the next generation of researchers is vital to the research mission of the university and students in the Skinner lab are an essential part of his lab’s workforce. “I’m in the university because I believe that environment facilitates research activity,” Professor Skinner said. “I’m really looking for students who have a career goal that we can help facilitate.”

That trait is something he finds consistently in honors students.

“Honors students are far more serious about their academic futures,” Skinner said, noting that a high percentage of them often “tend to gravitate” to his lab rather than him having to seek them out. Often, he said, they already know they want to go on to grad or medical school. “Those students are committed to go on in their careers and to do further education and so those are the ones that really fit the best in a research environment,” he said.

Honors students recognize the reciprocity the situation provides.

“What’s really special and unique about Dr. Skinner’s approach is that he enables the undergrads and gives you so much room to learn and try things,” McBirney said. “It’s worth noting because when you do give that ownership and guidance—of course, with oversight—it’s really impressive what undergrads, as a general term can do,” she added. “You learn you can start to really contribute, make decisions, and be an asset to the lab.”

“If you’re looking for someone…to work in your lab, if they have aspirations to go on to the more professional degrees and stay in science, that’s how you select the better students,” Skinner said.

Students like Margaux and Sarah, for example. “There’s two of them… one at the beginning and the other at the end with no overlap,” Skinner said.

“Margaux was in on the very beginning several years ago. She basically got this project started with some other senior people in the lab. It took us forever to get all the generations and all the pathology and everything else,” he said. “She was one of my more productive honors students in the sense that she co-authored four publications.”

“Sarah played a significant role in helping us finish up all of the pathology over the last year and a half…summarizing a lot of the data, putting things together,” Skinner said. Once he learned she was an honors student who wanted to do an MD and a potential PhD, he knew she’d be a good fit for his lab. “Finding those people early in their careers is not common.”

Student Highlight: Andrew Davila

Andrew DavilaStudent Highlight: Andrew Davila

By Sophia Flippin, Honors Student Intern,

Meet Honors student Andrew Davila. Andrew is a senior majoring in economics with a specialization in financial markets and accompanied by a business administration minor.

He encourages underclassmen to say “yes” first and then worry later. Referring to his own experience, Andrew said students often let fears get in the way of their potential.

Andrew is deeply immersed within the WSU community and holds several leadership positions on campus. Last semester, Andrew worked as an Honors 198 facilitator. He worked with another Honors student, Matteya Proctor, to lead first-year students in topics pertaining to leadership, professionalism, and personal growth. He represents the Honors College as an Associated Students of Washington State University senator

Through the Honors College, Andrew has been able to strengthen his Spanish and mature academically. Most recently, you can find him researching firm resilience to demand shocks for honors thesis. The thesis process allows Andrew to pursue his interest in econometrics and its real-world applications. Andrew appreciates how diverse the Honors College general curriculum is and his ability to explore various topics. He fondly remembers Dr. Bill Smith’s Honors 370 class about the United Nations. Learning about the dynamics between various nations and their shared history made for an interesting class, Andrew said.

Outside of Honors, Andrew has worked within WSU Housing and Residence Life for three years and is now a senior resident advisor for the Stephenson East residence hall. He oversees 11 resident advisors, advises the building’s hall government group, and executes building-wide programs. Last year, Andrew channeled his love for chess into founding of Chess at WSU, a chartered organization that competes collegiately.

“My advice is to not place a perceived limit on what you believe is possible. Going back to freshman year, if I had told myself I would be involved in such lovely departments and balancing all my current work at once, my old self would not have believed it.”

Andrew is currently in the process of applying to graduate schools to earn his Master of Applied Economics. His ultimate goal is to become an economic consultant.

Faculty Senate Approves New Honors College HABILE Certificate Program


Faculty Senate Approves New Honors College HABILE Certificate Program  

By Phyllis Shier, WSU Honors College,

On November 16, 2023, WSU’s faculty senate approved the Honors and Business Innovation and Leadership Experience (HABILE) certificate, created by HABILE Director and Associate Professor of Accounting Sue Gill. The HABILE program began in 2016 and since then has provided special opportunities for Honors College students in the Carson College of Business (CCB). Students gain knowledge, skills, connections, and real-world exposure preparing them for outstanding careers in business-related fields.

The new certificate will require 15 credits consisting of four core courses and electives from an approved list, along with the co-curricular requirements associated with the Carson Career Amplifier Program. HABILE students earn the new credential by completing selected Honors and CCB courses along with co-curricular business activities in the CCB Amplifier Program (which includes “Meet the Deans” events, research and professional presentations, mentoring programs, and networking events).

The certificate program will allow students to leverage CCB capstone courses to jump-start their honors theses.

“A formal certificate will result in tangible recognition of the HABILE students on their WSU transcripts,” HABILE Director Gill said. “It will also assist in marketing the program and identifying a group of top business students to our external constituents.”

Honors College business majors who are invited to join HABILE benefit from exclusive sections of the Honors First-Year Experience course led by CCB faculty, early access to high demand Honors courses in economics and accounting, special co-curricular activities in CCB, and scholarship support from the Honors College and CCB.

“We are very pleased with the faculty senate’s addition of the HABILE certificate program. This certificate will provide recognition to students for the focused work they’re completing and increase the visibility of the exciting partnership between the Honors College and the Carson College of Business,” Honors College Dean M. Grant Norton said.

Honors College Student Fosters Community Through ASWSU

Honors College Student Fosters Community Through ASWSU

By Sophia Flippin, Honors Student Intern,

Honors College senior Luke Deschenes, a construction management major, hadn’t planned on heading Washington State University’s student government until a pivotal experience lobbying at the state capitol on behalf of WSU students, coupled with a nudge from his boss, led him to reconsider. Deschenes’ passion for serving students and extending his learning beyond the classroom led him to get involved with the Associated Students of Washington State University at the beginning of his junior year.

During Luke’s first semester on ASWSU, business senator Maccabee Werndorf approached him about running together for president and vice president for the 2023-24 school year. Initially he declined. ASWSU presidents begin their term over the summer, and Luke planned to return to the construction company where he previously had interned. He gave the offer more thought over winter break after his boss at the construction company encouraged him to explore the opportunity. That coupled with his experience at “Coug Day at the Capitol,” the annual student lobbying event organized by ASWSU, finalized his decision to run just weeks later.

Experiencing the legislative aspect of ASWSU made Deschenes realize student government extends far beyond planning campus events. “It honestly is changing students’ lives and changing their ability to go to college, to have an experience and grow as a person,” he said.

Deschenes put his name on the ballot shortly after, and he and Werndorf ran unopposed. Now, as president, he leads ASWSU’s executive staff and senate.

His administration’s goals are centered around what students want, Deschenes said. They have dedicated efforts to improving parking and transportation and to increasing drug and alcohol awareness amongst the student body.

Luke sits on two university transportation-related task forces and advisory groups. One focus is offsetting the loss of 90 campus parking spots caused by building construction. He hopes to relax some of the parking permit requirements in the area and to find alternative student parking spaces. Within these groups, he is also advocating for expanding bus routes and operating hours.

Enhancing the vibrancy of green space around campus and sustainability efforts are also primary pillars of Deschenes’ presidency. “Catastrophe of Man,” an honors course discussing ecologically conscious lifestyles and humans’ impact on the environment, ignited his passion for environmental sustainability.

Luke is working with WSU landscape architecture students to make Ruby Street Park more community-oriented. Possible plans include constructing a stage to allow for performances or building a parking area to increase access to food trucks. The goal is to maintain a park in an area that is primarily for student residences.

Deschenes is also collaborating with ASWSU’s director of campus sustainability, Kassandra Vogel, to create a new executive position centered around organizing monthly campus clean-up initiatives, undertaking beautification projects, and working alongside various Pullman organizations to keep campus clean. His experience planning a collaborative Earth Day event last year inspired him to create the new position, he said.

In his role as ASWSU’s Director of Community Affairs during his junior year, Luke served as the liaison between ASWSU, Pullman City Council, and the Pullman Chamber of Commerce. He focused on city issues, especially those impacting WSU students, and increased student engagement within the Pullman community, working to become a familiar face to Pullman city leaders by regularly attending city government meetings. Cultivating relationships with Pullman city officials was the most beneficial part of this experience.

“Being connected with the community greatly eased the transition into my presidential role,” Deschenes said. “Any time somebody reached out regarding something in the community, I already knew that person.”

Luke sees value in thinking critically about issues impacting his community and discussing them with a diverse group of students. The discussion-centered nature of honors classes helped broaden his worldview and created an openness to new opinions.

“When I get to hear students talk through their beliefs on certain things, it helps me change my perspective and put myself in their shoes,” he said.

The best part of his ASWSU position is seeing his team engaged in issues they are passionate about. “Seeing our executive staff and senate pursue things they genuinely care about is something that I cherish and appreciate every day.”

Much like learning to assemble effective student team leaders and uniting the executive staff, Luke will soon be leading a construction team on job sites. He recently accepted a job with a general contractor in Seattle and looks forward to beginning his career in construction upon graduation.

“I feel like all the things I’ve learned from this year and the skills I’ve developed from being involved in ASWSU, I’ll carry that with me for the rest of my career,” he said. “Even though I’m not going into politics, the things I’ve learned this year will still be very relevant in my life.”

Combining Research and Practice in a Global Society: Stevie Fawcett Draws on WSU Honors College and Microbiology Experiences to Envision an Innovative Future

Combining Research and Practice in a Global Society: Stevie Fawcett Draws on WSU Honors College and Microbiology Experiences to Envision an Innovative Future

By: Phyllis Shier, WSU Honors College,

Stevie Fawcett believes taking a global approach to virology and immunology research makes good academic sense. It’s a path he’s forged as an Honors College student in the WSU STARS program, which provides undergraduate students with three research rotations. Fawcett is a senior microbiology and Spanish major, minoring in German and jazz studies. He presented the West Nile virus research results he completed during his rotation in Dr. Alan Goodman’s lab at the European Virology Conference last May in Gdańsk, Poland. Fawcett’s trip was funded by the Honors College and is just one of the international experiences that has enriched his WSU education.

“The Honors College is a huge motivator for me because they really encourage their students to go abroad and have those experiences,” Fawcett said.

In the Goodman lab, Fawcett studied how the West Nile virus replicates by examining the mechanisms that inhibit the immune response in insects. He compared two West Nile virus strains, Kunjin, a less dangerous version from Australia, and NY-99, the deadliest form found in the United States.

“Stevie has a passion and commitment for research, and science. This is exemplified by his eagerness to rotate among labs with diverse research interests as a STARS student and his enthusiasm to present his work at national and international scientific meetings,” Goodman said.

Fawcett studied genes in the JAK/STAT pathway, which is broadly conserved in most species, to learn if the viruses were stopping flies from mounting an immune response. He saw that the Vago gene and same named molecule, for instance, weren’t upregulated as much when flies were infected with NY-99 as with Kunjin virus, where upregulation inhibits virus replication.

“What I thought was happening was that NY-99 had a way of stopping insects from mounting this immune response and producing Vago,” Fawcett said.

Seeing Europe and North America as the largest powerhouses in immunology, Fawcett searched for and found the virology conference in Gdańsk. “I thought it would be a really good opportunity to go abroad and present work and talk with folks who are doing that research over in Europe.”

Last summer, Fawcett received a Fulbright-Mitacs Program Scholarship to the University of Toronto, where he was introduced to research that directly impacts human health. He helped to optimize the way that T cells upregulate a transcription factor that leads to the formation of immunity “memory cells,” with an end goal of increasing the body’s ability to produce more of these cells.

“These cells are very important for identifying and eliminating pathogens and things that are not supposed to be there, like cancer cells,” Fawcett said. That experience inspired him to switch his focus from zoonotic virology to using oncolytic viruses to specifically kill cancer cells.

“You take the concept of a virus, which is incredibly deadly as we’ve discovered in the last few years and…(create) this new treatment option, which I think is incredibly interesting… for me, going forward, that might be a really nice combination,” he said. Fawcett hopes to become an oncolytic researcher while working simultaneously as a medical clinician.

“I changed my focus because the whole experience was just so incredible that I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.”

In addition to his experience in Dr. Goodman’s lab, Fawcett’s first and final STARS research rotations are with Dr. Michael Letko and Dr. Stephanie Seifert, studying hantaviruses. “The idea of the STARS program is to prepare you to pursue a PhD,” he said.

For Fawcett, that includes building on the international collaboration gained through his WSU experiences. When he graduates in May, he hopes to attend the University of Glasgow’s program in cancer research and precision oncology that looks to breakdown the barrier between medical practice and research.

“If I’m successful in my career path, I’m going to be doing both sides; I’m going to be a physician but I’m also going to be in a lab. Washington State University has been amazing in terms of helping me develop research skills… I have this really nice skillset that is designed to address and study viruses and I can take that and apply it to viral oncolytics.”