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Three CAS grad students earn top AFW awards

Amber Morczek
Amber Morczek
Amanda Vander Woude
Amanda Vander Woude, right, with Sheila Converse, AFW president and music faculty member
Ellen Preece
Ellen Preece

Graduate and doctoral students in the College of Arts and Sciences won three of six annual awards presented last week by the WSU Association for Faculty Women. AFW’s top honors recognize students whose work benefits the community.

Ellen Preece, a doctoral student in the School of the Environment, won a Harriett B. Rigas Award. Elected president of the Washington State Lake Protection Association, at WSU Preece researches food and water safety issues.

Amanda Vander Woude, a graduate student in vocal performance, won an AFW Founders Award. Vander Woude studies the vocal injuries of professional singers, gives voice lessons to WSU undergraduates, and performs in various ensembles.

Amber Morczek, a doctoral candidate in criminal justice and criminology, received the Karen Depaul Leadership Award. Morczek has participated in violence-prevention programs, including the Prisoner Debate Project, which took WSU undergraduates to the Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility to collaborate with inmates during public debates in the facility about topics in criminal justice.

More about the 2014 AFW awards

Dazzling fluorescent rocks on display

Geologist Kurt Wilkie. WSU’s fluorescent rocks are beacons to students and visitors. (Photos by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services)
Geologist Kurt Wilkie. WSU’s fluorescent rocks are beacons to students and visitors. (Photos by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services)

“There’s always lots of oohing and aahing when kids see them and, as you can see, they get as close as they possibly can,” said WSU geologist Kurt Wilkie. He’s one of several scientists who give tours of the S. Elroy McCaw Fluorescent Mineral Display located on campus – and who sometimes must clean the viewing window of so many small hand and nose prints.

On display behind the glass, 150 rocks glow in brilliant yellows, purples, oranges and greens. Set against a dark background, they make up a nocturnal garden that captivates adult visitors as well, said Wilkie.

Read more in All that glitters.

WSU astrobiologist contributes to Smithsonian blog

Dirk Schulze-Makuch
Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a professor in the School of the Environment, explores the mysteries of methane on Mars in his latest post on the Smithsonian Air & Space blog, The Daily Planet.

Read this and other posts by Schulze-Makuch, including “Life Raining Down from Space?” and “The Fermi Paradox Revisited.”

WSU researcher tracks levels of microcystins

Ellen Preece
Ellen Preece prepares a mussel sample for testing in the lab. Photo by Megan Skinner, WSU.

Ellen Preece wants to know if microcystins, liver-damaging toxins produced by algal blooms in freshwater lakes, accumulate in Puget Sound seafood.

She’s not the only one who wants to know. Preece, a doctoral student in the WSU School of the Environment, is helping the Washington Department of Health determine whether seafood accumulates enough microsystins to be a health concern for populations who rely on locally harvested seafood to meet their protein needs.

Read more about research to keep seafood safe