17 CAS students honored with SURCA awards

Group of SURCA student award winnersFrom the health benefits of the Lucky Iron Fish to advances in detecting hydrogen polysufides to the cultural impact of a Brazilian composer’s work, 17 CAS students received top honors at the 2018 Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) competition in April. Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, SURCA features faculty-mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities by undergraduates from all majors, grades, and campuses.

“Each presentation evidences the new knowledge brought to one’s field and also reflects the personal and professional growth of every student participant,” said Mary F. Wack, vice provost for undergraduate education. “SURCA showcases the considerable contributions that our students make to WSU’s Drive to 25 effort to be among the top research institutions, and to provide a transformative educational experience to hundreds of students each year.”

All 256 presenters were evaluated by at least three judges drawn from faculty, staff, post-doctoral researchers, and guest experts. More than 175 volunteers reviewed posters, listened to presentations, and assigned scores according to a rubric.

In addition to the valuable experience gained, students were eligible for four awards: crimson, gray, early career, and novice. Each award also included prize money. Thanks to support from generous donors, nearly $10,000 was awarded overall to SURCA winners across the University. Donors in 2018 include: Alturas Analytics; The Boeing Company; alumnus Robert H. (’77) and Mary L. Rieck, Cougar parents from Richland; The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program; and, the WSU Office of the Provost.

“We are truly grateful for our donors’ continuing investment in our students,” said Shelley Pressley, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of WSU Undergraduate Education.

The College of Arts and Sciences award recipients are:

Applied Sciences

Gray Award: Rachel Wittenberg
“The Effect of Food Preparation Methods on the Release of Iron from the Lucky Iron Fish® and Subsequent Iron Enrichment of Foods.”
Mentor: Kathy Beerman, School of Biological Sciences

Arts and Design

Gray Award: Katie Bowen, Mariah Gwin, Vanessa Rhodes, and Veronica Whitney, co-presenters (WSU Vancouver)
“Rebooting Electronic Literature: The Challenges of Creating an Open-Source Multimedia Tool for Data Collection and Dissemination”
Mentors: Dene Grigar and Nicholas Schiller, Creative Media and Digital Culture Program

Computer Science, Mathematics, Statistics, and Information Systems

Crimson Award: Robby Boney (WSU Vancouver)
“Is Hair Cell Regeneration Linked to Evolutionarily Changes within Protein Sequences?”
Mentor: Allison Coffin, Neuroscience/WSU Vancouver

Engineering and Physical Sciences

Crimson Award: Michael Anderson
“Effect of Electron Donor Position in Bilayer OSCs”
Mentor: Brian Collins, Department of Physics

Crimson Award: Seth McPherson
“Production Strategies for Tailored Source Material Used in High Efficiency Solar Cells”
Mentor: Kelvin Lynn, Department of Physics & School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Crimson Award: Deshka Neill
“Chemiluminescent 1,2-Dioxetane Probes for the Detection of Hydrogen Polysulfides”
Mentor: Ming Xian, Department of Chemistry


Crimson Award: Jazmine Ike-Lopez
“Digital Archiving of Tribal Histories at Washington State University”
Mentor: Trevor Bond, WSU Libraries

Gray Award: Krista Brutman
“Left-Over Women: Collectivist Feminism in Modern China”
Mentor: Lydia Gerber, Asia Studies Program

Gray Award: Garrett Snedeker
“Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935): Brazilian Composer, Musician, and Catalyst for Social Change”
Mentor: Jeffrey Savage, School of Music

Organismal, Population, Ecological, and Evolutionary Biology

Crimson Award: Madison Armstrong
“The Evolution of Plastic Expression as an Explanation of Invasion Success”
Mentor: Mark Dybdahl, School of Biological Sciences

Social Sciences

Crimson Award: Lysandra Perez
“Latino/a College Student’s Transition Experiences: Collectivism to an Individualistic Culture”
Mentor: Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Department of Sociology

Gray Award: Nhu Huynh and Sewit Kidane, co-presenters
“Night Out Task”
Mentor: Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, Department of Psychology

Early Career Award

William Millick
“Considering Women in the Great Leap Forward”
Mentor: Lydia Gerber, Asia Studies Program

Read more about the event and download the abstract book at SURCA.wsu.edu.